Sleep paralysis is a natural phenomenon. While we sleep our body paralyzes our limbs so we don’t react violently to our dreams.
But sometimes the mind can awake before the body does. In these states, we seem to be seeing as though we were awake, but we just can’t move our body. This is a fringe state between sleep and awake.
In this state, many have reported seeing shadowy figures around them. I recall this once happening to me, with the lights on in the hall and figures passing by in the hall, but I couldn’t identify them.
“The shadow figures, as I called them, usually congregated around the bottom or at the side of my bed. I was terrified of them as I hadn’t a clue what they were and why I would be getting them. I presumed, rightly or wrongly, that they were dreamlike figures manifested from a partially sleeping brain. There is no other way to describe it. My mind was awake, my body was sleeping, and another part of my mind was partially asleep.
"What I couldn’t figure out was why the figures only appeared during sleep paralysis episodes.”
What I found especially interesting are the many comments from others who have experienced sleep paralysis. Some have visions; some just have auditory hallucination; some dream about creatures moving their bodies around. Some see monsters, some see “the old hag,” some a devil, one saw spiders, or others are held paralyzed by an unknown creature or force.
Here’s what I like about this explanation. When people have studied manifestations of night visions over the centuries, the nature of these shadowy figures reflects the culture of the day. Back in the middle ages, this phenomenon was characterized by figures identified as devils. Today, they may be monsters, devils, the old hag, or space aliens. But in each case, what they see is very reflective of what they know about - their times, their culture, images in the popular media. For example, there were no cases of seeing space aliens in the middle ages.
But, while I find this a fascinating topic, I also know that it can be intensely frightening for those afflicted by hallucinations during sleep paralysis. This is evident by reading comments on the blog post. But, also interesting, are a few writers who enjoy the visions during sleep paralysis. And some who are able to take control of the dream, what is called lucid dreaming.
Now, this rational explanation of alien abductions has not convinced many who still claim an encounter of the forth kind. But it makes sense to me. With all our instruments and satellites, how could all these alien ships approach earth and hang around long enough to carry out these abductions, probing, and then return their captives?
Still, thinking about this does unnerve me a bit, especially now that it’s bed time!