Question: Sleep Paralysis — Satan or Psychological?

Anonymous asked (edited for length):

What’s your attitude towards sleep paralysis and the supernatural/spiritual warfare involved with that? … Most nights I’m fine with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is protecting me … but some nights (like tonight) it’s really hard to make myself sleep. … Do you think there’s a reason that it happens, aside from the fact that Satan pretty much likes attacking the children of God? Just thoughts.

It’s a bit crazy you’re asking me this since I’ve suffered from “sleep paralysis” for about twenty years.  It’s the basis for the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies and in the olden days was called the incubus or succubus, which are male and female demons. It’s also called night hag or night terrors, and in Korea it’s called gawi, which was also a Korean horror movie. 

It’s apparently hereditary since family members are more likely to suffer together.  I had a cousin I never met until I was 18, and her whole family has it.  I only found out a few years ago that my brother has had it since he was little.

Recent studies have shown that your body in sleep-mode locks up so you don’t act out your dreams, so that sleep paralysis is your lock-up mechanism occurring early while you’re falling asleep. To get out of it, most people have to fight to move, breathe, or scream to reverse the lock-down.

I understand the psychological reasoning here, but it doesn’t explain the hallucinations, voices, and general feelings of terror.  All which I’m sure some scientist will discover is “neurons firing randomly” or “oxygen intoxication” or something else. 

But as always, I agree there’s a spiritual element here.

I won’t go into detail — you’ll call me crazy — but during sleep paralysis I’ve opened my eyes and have seen multiple times the thing sitting on my chest, or floating above me, or sitting in a chair across the room looking at me. He (or it) shows up in my dreams.  A few times I feel his (its) presence during prayer or while I’m jogging outdoors, day or night. 

When I move houses it doesn’t happen for a while, but eventually it finds me.  I remember once this lady used to pick me up from school in a carpool and I’d take a nap in her guestroom.  I constantly had sleep paralysis there for weeks, pretty much on cue when my head hit the pillow.  Later she told me, “Oh yeah, that bed you’re napping in: my mom died in that bed.” After I showered for three hours, I never slept there again.

It also happens more when you’re extremely tired, spiritually vulnerable, burnt out, or emotional.  I’ve found that turning on soft music (praise!) or leaving on a little light is helpful to ward it off.

Personally I believe this is spiritual warfare, and I hope I’m not freaking you out, or anyone else.  I don’t talk about it much because I don’t want to inception ideas into anyone’s head.  But it’s real, it happens, and we need to be praying the Ephesians 6 Warrior Prayer all over that. 

Also, when it DOES happen, examine yourself, your life, your motives, your heart. That demon comes around when stuff is happening, and you should be encouraged to pray.  I know that sounds like a general blanket statement (since we all sin quite regularly), but it could be a 2 Corinthians 12 thing where God has purposefully allowed a thorn to humble us and rely only on His grace.  I know that’s exactly what it was for me every time.  Pray hard, my friend. Press into Christ.

7 thoughts on “Question: Sleep Paralysis — Satan or Psychological?

  1. There is definitely a demonic thing going on. It may be a familiar spirit that is attached to generational blood lines and will kick up to let you know its there. It may not be directly related to sin where you have opened a door, but a family line of iniquity that opened the door and gave it a legal right to be there to wreak havoc. Ask God to show you where that spirit came into your life or the generations and then through prayer, take authority over it and command it to leave and ask God to cleanse the blood lines back to the 14 th generation and forward for a thousand generations. Be careful then to walk out and not participate with anything that God would have revealed. Many giants in the faith have been visited in such a way. One responded this way, “Oh, its only you!” Then he rolled back over and went to sleep. We are to recongnize our authority over satan and his minions. It is called walking in Sonship! When we begin to really understand the authority that has been given to us, satan will tremble, and when he no longer gets the desired result, he will leave and look for another avenue of entry. I will be praying whoever is being demonized will become free because whom He sets free is free indeed!


  2. It’s interesting you deal with this. I have dealt with this too. I also have had many years of intense and demonic nightmares. Things have really gotten better in recent years. When I first dealt with sleep paralysis I thought it was demonic and I would call out to Jesus in my mind. Then I would have peace & fall back asleep or I’d wake up completely screaming Jesus’ name. Then I met a friend who has it & says it’s physical. I do think it’s physical AND spiritual. I find when I’m focusing on good things and not worry or fear then I don’t have it.

    Once I did see the thing that was choking me in a dream that I couldn’t wake up from…it was a black cat figure. I was literally threatened in my dream by a Satanic figure that told me to stop praying for a homosexual friend. I starting choking. I said Jesus’ name in my mind and as I woke up I saw the black cat shadow jump off my bed. I’m not sure why I see spiritual things. I started seeing demons etc when I was a little girl. I do think part of it was because my parents watched horror movies and also when I was in a certain “Christian” movement there was alot of seeking of angels and things….which turned out to be demons in disguise. I have had a ton of peace since leaving that movement. But that’s a story for another time. It’s still too fresh. My Dad also saw things in the spirit realm….angels & demons alike. He was a minister (Baptist theologically). Personally I’d rather that I never see either again while i”m in the flesh.

    I will NEVER seek angels again and I will NOT watch horror movies. I know God has used dreams to speak to me before but I also know sometimes the enemy will use dreams against me…..other times I’ve eaten bad pizza lol. I’ll pray for you. Have you ever read The Bondage Breaker? It’s helpful with these things. The first time I had sleep paralysis it was after an argument with my Dad. I asked God to tell me he loved me. I didn’t “feel” anything so I asked God to let me die….when the paralysis happened I literally thought I was dying (that my spirit was sitting up & leaving)….I prayed so hard. I vowed to never ask to die again. The next day I sat on a bench praying & crying…I looked down at the bench and “I love you” was carved there. God is so faithful…even when we are not.

    sorry for the long comments….


    1. I love your long comments!

      Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. Spiritual warfare is something we are all either ignorant about or a bit too obsessed. But it’s real, and the name of Christ has power. The spiritual realm is also one of those things that “secular empiricists” have a problem with, since they either have to completely deny it and explain it off with all sorts of bizarre science, or affirm a spiritual element and therefore abandon a materialist philosophy. It’s fun to watch them wriggle through that quandary.

      Amen, by the way: God is indeed faithful.


  3. I agree it is definately spiritual attacks, however this night……. I saw things I need to be delivered from. it was the longest one and most terrifying one I’ve ever had……….praise god, he turned it for good…….


  4. Had it happen to me often in 2010, I put a Blessed Rosary & Holy Water right on the night stand, Rosary facing up next to my bed where I slept, it has NEVER happened since! I also do a house blessing with Holy Water often. Clean out your home of OLD stuff you don’t use anymore, that where they hide!


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