Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon wherein a dreamer awakens temporarily unable to move or speak. The feeling of a maleficent presence accompanies the experience and "hallucinations" of baleful entities pressing their chest or bedside are common. It is believed that the phenomenon occurs with 20% to 60% of people, depending on the population inspected. Sleep paralysis is peculiar from night terrors as the subject is completely conscious during the event.
Despite it's sterile rationalization by the medical community, the mechanisms behind sleep paralysis remain largely unexplained. Folk traditions worldwide acknowledge sleep paralysis as having supernatural origins and refer to it under less clinical terminology:
* In African culture, isolated sleep paralysis is commonly referred to as "the witch riding your back.
* In Hmong culture, sleep paralysis describes an experience called "dab tsog" or "crushing demon.
* In Vietnamese culture, sleep paralysis is referred to as "ma đč", meaning "held down by a ghost" or "bóng đč", meaning "held down by a shadow".
* In Chinese culture, sleep paralysis is widely known as (pinyin: guǐ yā shēn) or (pinyin: guǐ yā chuáng), which literally translate into "ghost pressing on body" or "ghost pressing on bed."
* In Japanese culture, sleep paralysis is referred to as kanashibari literally "bound or fastened in metal," from kane "metal" and shibaru" to bind, to tie, to fasten").
* In Hungarian folk culture 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). The word "boszorkány" itself stems from the Turkish root "bas-", meaning "to press.
* In Iceland folk culture sleep paralysis is generally called having a "Mara". A goblin or a succubus.
Throughout my life I have experienced permutations of sleep paralysis hundreds of times, often multiple times a night.
The bizarre content of these episodes has often lead me to wonder on the nature of our world.