Oct 23 2015

10 Creatures Associated With Sleep Paralysis


Chances are you’ve experienced the traumatizing event known as sleep paralysis. Imagine this: you’ve just had a nightmare, and you woke up in a cold sweat with an immense dread overwhelming you but something invisible and heavy is crushing your chest, and to top it all off, you’re paralyzed. Many cultures have come up with their own explanations as to what or who causes this—and many are malevolent creatures.



  1. Ghosts In Greece

In Greece it is believed this ghost-like creature causes sleep paralysis. It tries to steal the victim’s speech, or sits on their chest, causing asphyxiation. Many Greeks describe their encounters as being strangled and experiencing a feeling of dread overwhelming their senses. If they’re not blinded by darkness, victims often report a transparent being watching them and inducing great fear.

sleep paralysis ghost

  1. Iceland: Goblins and Succubi

In Icelandic folklore culture, sleep paralysis is generally called having a “Mara.” A goblin or Succubus, normally a female, is believed to ride on people’s chests while they sleep, bringing on nightmares. The origin of the word “nightmare” is derived from her name. Other European cultures have variants of the same folklore calling her under different names. To ward off these intruders it is believed that one should sing old native songs all night long, in hopes that  will scare away these creatures.

succubus sleep paralysis

  1. The Alp In Germany

An alp is a nightmare creature originating in German folklore. An alp is typically male. Its victims are often females, whom it attacks during the night, controlling their dreams and creating horrible nightmares. An alp sits astride a sleeper’s chest and becomes heavier, until the crushing weight awakens the terrified and breathless dreamer. The victim awakes unable to move under the alp’s weight.

The alp is best known for its shape shifting abilities, similar to the creatures from werewolf lore. It may change into a cat, a pig, a dog, a snake or a small white butterfly. The people of Germany have developed ways to ward off this nightmare creature. Protections against an alp include: laying a broomstick under a pillow, iron horseshoes hung from the bedpost, placing shoes against the bed with the toes pointing toward the door, or placing a mirror on the chest. Steel and crosses are also used. If awoken by the alp and finding him still there, one can address him by asking him to return in the morning to borrow something or have coffee. It is believed an alp sometimes is a spirit summoned by a witch or an evil person wishing harm on another, and sent to torment them. Tricking an alp may lead a person to its master.

sleep paralysis alp


  1. The Oily Man In Malaysian Culture

Originating from the Malaysian folklore since the 1960’s, the Hantu Orang Minyak, (or ghost of the oily man) is described as looking like a human man with a dark complexion. He appears to his victims completely nude with oiled-down skin, which according to reports, was to make his physical apprehension that much more difficult.

According to the folklore, this creature was created when a human demonic operative was able to rape twenty-one virgins in a seven-day period so that Satan would grant his worldly desires.

Numerous versions of this story exist; and a wide array of abilities have been given to the assailant, such as his assault causing muteness in his victim during the encounter, being invisible to non-virgins, and causing sleep paralysis.

oily man paralysis

  1. Southwest Nigeria & The Ogun Oru

The “Ogun Oru” is a traditional explanation for nocturnal disturbances among the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria. It involves an acute nighttime disruption once the victim is asleep. This is culturally attributed to demonic infiltration of the body and psyche during daydreaming. Ogun Oru is characterized by its occurrence as either, a female prevalence, the perception of an underlying feud between the sufferer’s earthly spouse and a “spiritual” spouse, or 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.

ogun oru sleep paralysis

  1. Muslim Culture: Demons & Evil Djinns

In Muslim culture, sleep paralysis is considered an encounter with demons and evil djinns, which are intelligent spirits with the ability to possess human vessels. It is also assumed that these monsters are brought about by by the black magic performed by enemies and jealous persons. The demonic entity appears in your dream before waking you up, as it torments your mind with hisses, and sits on your chest.

Spells and curses could also result in a ghoul haunting a person. This happens when the sleep paralysis happens on a nightly basis— sometimes for years! Some homes and locations are also alleged to be haunted by these satanic beings and are left alone shrouded in mystery.

demon sleep paralysis

  1. Ghost Oppression In China

The earliest written account of sleep paralysis can be found in a Chinese book on dreaming, dating back to 400 B.C.    It records a tale of a creature which combines the characters for oppression and ghosts. It is said the sufferer will have a nightmare and become awaken by a ghost-like apparition. In China alone, 37% had experienced at least one attack of ghost oppression. The peak age of onset was at the range of 17-19 years old for both sexes. Many live their lives with ongoing sleep paralysis in constant fear that one night might end up being their last.

sleep paralysis ghost oppression

  1. The Kanashibari In Japan

These nocturnal attackers are known as Kanashibari in Japan. The name literally translates to mean “to tie with an iron rope.” The idea of being tied up comes from the belief that ancient Buddhist monks could use magic to paralyze others, as if they were bound in a metal rope. Even today, many Japanese believe Kanashibari to be conjured by evil spirits. In a 1987 study of Japanese respondents, it was found the symptoms of Kanashibari attacks to be identical to those of sleep paralysis. Symptoms include, difficulty breathing, pain, gibbering voices, and morbid thoughts of impending death.

kinashibari sleep paralysis

  1. Alien Abduction

There is strong evidence that some claims of alien abduction may actually describe episodes of sleep paralysis. In a 1993 study and a 2002 paper, it is shown that 60% of intense UFO experiences are associated with sleep. In a 2008 study, people who claim to have been abducted by aliens report more incidences of sleep paralysis than a control group. Descriptions of alien abduction often bear strong resemblance to accounts of sleep paralysis.

One story says a female abductee was lying on her back when she woke up from a sound sleep. Her body was completely paralyzed and she experienced the sensation of levitating above her bed. Her heart was pounding, her breathing was shallow, and she felt tense all over. She was terrified. She was able to open her eyes, and when she did so, she saw three beings standing at the foot of her bed in the glowing light.

Whilst sleep paralysis is very likely linked with some alien abduction experiences, many alleged abductees have no initial memory of the full abduction, and accounts often materialize after memories are ‘recovered’ by therapists and hypnotists.
sleep paralysis alien abduction

  1. What Science Says

Despite the fact that the medical profession has long known about sleep paralysis and known it to be a natural phenomenon, throughout history, sleep paralysis has often been interpreted as a supernatural connotation by some Polysomnographers who study sleep.

When you sleep, there are four stages you go through. One of these is called the REM stage. At this stage, your dreams are more vivid, your heartbeat increases, and muscles twitch occasionally. Two chemicals in the brain are responsible for turning on and off the neurons that allow the muscles to be active.

Sleep paralysis is a form of intrusion into REM sleep. If you wake up before a cycle of REM sleep is complete, your body might not regain regular function in sync with your mind. This mistimed disconnection between the brain and body can result in temporary paralysis while the person is mentally aware. The combination of dream and consciousness when awake can cause terrifying hallucinations. However, what science cannot explain is how different cultures on different sides of the globe can attribute similar characteristics of evil creatures mentally and physically tormenting our sleep.

rem sleep paralysis