Sleep Paralysis: Demon vs Medical | Sleep Apnoea

Have you ever wake up to find you cannot move or speak but you can feel everything and hear everything near you? Have you ever felt that a ghost or something is trying to stop you from getting up? The phenomenon you just suffered is called Sleep Paralysis or Sleep Apnoea. This guide will explain the medical causes as well as uncover what are the mythological creatures supposed for Sleep Apnoea in different countries and culture.

Then certainly you are reading the right blog. We will be explaining what just happened with you. Read throughout what just caught you!

Two way approach

The two-way approach says either you will take it as medical condition or stick to the old theory-“A ghost struck me!” So, we are gonna explain everything according to the two-way approach for sleep apnoea or the sleep paralysis.

Where the medical approach defines parameters for sleep apnoea, the spiritual theory says you will call demons to this world if you recite the prayers backwards!

Sleep Paralysis: A Medical Approach

Sleep paralysis or Sleep Apnoea is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes.

Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking. Sleep paralysis may accompany other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is an overpowering need to sleep caused by a problem with the brain’s ability to regulate sleep.

When it occurs?

Sleep paralysis can occur either when you are asleep or when you are awake.

When asleep: If it occurs while you are falling asleep, it’s called hypnagogic or predormital sleep apnoea.

Mechanism: As you fall asleep, your body slowly relaxes. Usually you become less aware, so you do not notice the change. However, if you remain or become aware while falling asleep, you may notice that you cannot move or speak.

When awake: If it happens as you are waking up, it’s called hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis.

Mechanism: During sleep, your body alternates between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. One cycle of REM and NREM sleep lasts about 90 minutes. NREM sleep occurs first and takes up to 75% of your overall sleep time. During NREM sleep, your body relaxes and restores itself. At the end of NREM, your sleep shifts to REM. Your eyes move quickly and dreams occur, but the rest of your body remains very relaxed. Your muscles are “turned off” during REM sleep. If you become aware before the REM cycle has finished, you may notice that you cannot move or speak.


Many theories have been put up for the causes like hormones or neurological, but the more casual approach just defines the simple causes:

  1. Teenage
  2. Lack of sleep
  3. Changing sleep schedule
  4. Sleeping on the back
  5. Other sleep problems like narcolepsy or nighttime leg cramps
  6. Use of meds like for ADHD
  7. Substance abuse


If you find yourself unable to move or speak for a few seconds or minutes when falling asleep or waking up, then it is likely you have isolated recurrent sleep paralysis. Often, there is no need to treat this condition.

More symptoms include:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Tiredness
  3. Insomnia or sleepless at nights


Most people need no treatment for sleep apnoea. Treating any underlying conditions such as narcolepsy may help if you are anxious or unable to sleep well. These treatments may include the following:

  • Improving sleep habits — such as making sure you get six to eight hours of sleep each night
  • Using antidepressant medication if it is prescribed to help regulate sleep cycles
  • Treating any mental health problems that may contribute to sleep paralysis
  • Treating any other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or leg cramps

The Demon- Paranormal Theories

Some people deny the fact of medical thing, because the feeling of demon is so strong, that they can actually feel like a ghost is sitting on the chest! They may also report like someone or something was preventing them from moving while they were trying to move from the bed.

In such a case, we have got a collection of cultural beliefs of different countries which define sleep paralysis with supernatural powers in their own languages. These are Cultural beliefs of sleep apnoea.

Scandinavian folklore

Mare, a supernatural creature which is related to incubi and succubi, is a cursed woman and her body is carried mysteriously during sleep and without her noticing. In this state, she visits villagers to sit on their rib cages while they are asleep, causing them to experience nightmares. Watch the movie Marianne for epic fun.


Pinyin: guǐ yā shēn is translated as “ghost pressing on body” or “ghost pressing on bed.”


Kanashibari, meaning Bound in metal (Kana: Metal, Shibari: To bind)


The term sleep paralysis is called gawi nulim, literally meaning “being pressed down by something scary in a dream.” It is often associated with a belief that a ghost or spirit is lying on top of or pressing down on the sufferer.


Nightmares in general as well as sleep apnoea is referred to by the verb-phrase khar darakh meaning “to be pressed by the Black” or “when the Dark presses.”


Sleep paralysis is often known as dip-non or dip-phok which translates roughly as “oppressed/struck by dip”; dip, literally meaning shadow, refers to a kind of spiritual pollution.


Sleep paralysis is called phǐǐ am and khmout sukkhot. It is described as an event in which the person is sleeping and dreams that one or more ghostly figures are nearby or even holding him or her down. The sufferer is unable to move or make any noises. This is not to be confused with pee khao and khmout jool, ghost possession.


Sleep paralysis is called phǐǐ am and khmout sukkhot. It is described as an event in which the person is sleeping and dreams that one or more ghostly figures are nearby or even holding him or her down. The sufferer is unable to move or make any noises.


Sleep paralysis is called ma đè, meaning “held down by a ghost,” or bóng đè, meaning “held down by a shadow.”


Bangungut has traditionally been attributed to nightmares.

New Guinea

People refer to this phenomenon as Suk Ninmyo, believed to originate from sacred trees that use human essence to sustain its life. The trees are said to feed on human essence during night as to not disturb the human’s daily life, but sometimes people wake unnaturally during the feeding, resulting in the paralysis.

Malay Peninsula

Sleep paralysis is known as kena tindih (or ketindihan in Indonesia), which means “being pressed.” Incidents are commonly considered the work of a malign agency; occurring in what are explained as blind spots in the field of vision, they are reported as demonic figures.

India Kashmir

In Kashmiri mythology, sleep apnoea is caused by an invisible creature called a pasikdhar or a saayaa. Some people believe that a pasikdhar lives in every house and attacks somebody if the house has not been cleaned or if god is not being worshiped in the house. One also experiences this if one has been doing something evil or derives pleasure from the misfortunes of others.

India Tamil Nadu

The sleep paralysis phenomenon is referred to as Amuku Be or Amuku Pei meaning “the ghost that forces one down.”


Sleep paralysis is considered an encounter with Shaitan (Satan), evil jinns or demons who have taken over one’s body. Like Iran, this ghoul is known as bakhtak or ‘ifrit’. It is also assumed that it is caused by the black magic performed by enemies and jealous persons. People, especially children and young girls, wear Ta’wiz (Amulet) to ward off evil eye. Spells, incantations and curses could also result in ghouls haunting a person. Some homes and places are also believed to be haunted by evil ghosts, satanic or other supernatural beings and they could haunt people living there especially during the night. Muslim holy persons (Imams, Maulvis, Sufis, Mullahs, Faqirs) perform exorcism on individuals who are believed to be possessed. The homes, houses, buildings and grounds are blessed and consecrated by Mullahs or Imams by reciting Qur’an and Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, recited by the muezzin.


The phenomenon of sleep apnoea is referred to as boba (“speechless”).

Sri Lanka

This particular phenomenon is referred to as Amuku Be or Amuku Pei meaning “the ghost that forces one down.”


Especially Newari culture,it is also known as Khyaak, after a ghost-like figure believed to reside in the darkness under the staircases of a house.


Sleep paralysis is often referred to as Ja-thoom, literally “What sits heavily on something”. In folklore across Arab countries, the Ja-thoom is believed to be a shayṭān or a ‘ifrīt sitting on top of the person or is also choking him. It is said that it can be prevented by sleeping on your right side and reading the Throne Verse of the Quran.


Sleep apnoea is often referred to as karabasan (“the dark presser/assailer”). It is believed to be a creature that attacks people in their sleep, pressing on their chest and stealing their breath. However, folk legends do not provide a reason why the devil or ifrit does that.


It is known as bakhtak, which is a ghost-like creature that sits on the dreamer’s chest, making breathing hard for him/her.


Ogun Oru is a traditional explanation for nocturnal disturbances among the Yoruba of Southwest Nigeria; ogun oru (“nocturnal warfare”) involves an acute night-time disturbance that is culturally attributed to demonic infiltration of the body and psyche during dreaming.

Ogun oru is characterized by its occurrence, a female preponderance, the perception of an underlying feud between the sufferer’s earthly spouse and a “spiritual” spouse, and the event of bewitchment through eating while dreaming. The condition is believed to be treatable through Christian prayers or elaborate traditional rituals designed to exorcise the imbibed demonic elements.


The word Madzikirira is used to refer something strongly pressing one down. This mostly refers to the spiritual world in which some spirit—especially an evil one—tries to use its victim for some evil purpose. The people believe that witches can only be people of close relations to be effective, and hence a witches often try to use one’s spirit to bewitch one’s relatives.


The word dukak (“depression”) is used, which is believed to be an evil spirit that possesses people during their sleep. Some people believe this experience is a symptom of withdrawal from the stimulant khat. The evil spirit dukak is an anthropomorphic personification of the depression that often results from the act of quitting chewing khat. ‘Dukak’ often appears in hallucinations of the quitters and metes out punishments to its victims for offending him by quitting. The punishments are often in the form of implausible physical punishments (e.g., the dukak puts the victim in a bottle and shakes the bottle vigorously) or outrageous tasks the victim must perform (e.g., swallow a bag of gravel).


Sleep paralysis is called unihalvaus (dream paralysis), but the Finnish word for nightmare, painajainen, is believed to originally have meant sleep apnoea, as it’s formed from the word painaja, which translates to pusher or presser, and the diminutive suffix -nen.


Sleep paralysis is called lidércnyomás (lidérc pressing) and can be attributed to a number of supernatural entities like lidérc (wraith), boszorkány (witch), tündér (fairy) or ördögszerető (demon lover).[17] The word boszorkány itself stems from the Turkish root bas-, meaning “to press.”


Sleep apnoea is generally called having a Mara. A goblin or a succubus (since it is generally female) believed to cause nightmares (the origin of the word ‘Nightmare’ itself is derived from an English cognate of her name). Other European cultures share variants of the same folklore, calling her under different names; Proto-Germanic: marōn; Old English: mære; German: Mahr; Dutch: nachtmerrie; Icelandic, Old Norse, Faroese, and Swedish: mara; Danish: mare; Norwegian: mare; Old Irish: morrigain; Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Slovene: môra; Bulgarian, Polish: mara; French: cauchemar; Romanian: moroi; Czech: můra; Slovak: mora. The origin of the belief itself is much older, back to the reconstructed Proto Indo-European root mora-, an incubus, from the root mer- “to rub away” or “to harm.”


Sleep apnoea attributes a sleep paralysis incident to an attack by the Haddiela, who is the wife of the Hares, an entity in Maltese folk culture that haunts the individual in ways similar to a poltergeist. As believed in folk culture, to get rid of the Haddiela, one must place a piece of silverware or a knife under the pillow prior to sleep.


It is believed that sleep paralysis occurs when a ghost-like creature or Demon named Mora, Vrahnas or Varypnas (Greek: Μόρα, Βραχνάς, Βαρυπνάς) tries to steal the victim’s speech or sits on the victim’s chest causing asphyxiation.


Salem witch trials

During the Salem witch trials several people reported night-time attacks by various alleged witches, including Bridget Bishop, that may have been caused by sleep paralysis.


It is believed that this is caused by the spirit of a dead person. This ghost lies down upon the body of the sleeper, rendering him unable to move. People refer to this as “subirse el muerto” (dead person on you).


Sleep apnoea is known as the ‘Old Hag’. In island folklore, the Hag can be summoned to attack a third party, like a curse.


There is a legend about a mythological being called the pisadeira (“she who steps”). She is described as a tall, skinny old woman, with long dirty nails in dried toes, white tangled hair, a long nose, staring red eyes, and greenish teeth on her evil laugh. She lives over the roofs, waiting to step on the chest of those who sleep with a full stomach.

Alien abduction

Some people also report that alien took them away and did experiments on them and returned them back.

This was all about Sleep Apnoea- The way you think is the one which will decide what it does to you. The best solution to get rid of it is SLEEP!

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  1. Please note that these are myths and not facts, we follow medical approach over these.
    Nevertheless,Saayaa refers to a visible spirit which is a haunted soul and it is believed in Indian culture but the word is more prevalent in Kashmir.


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