Monday, February 25, 2008

Aliens, Spirits, or Sleep Paralysis?

Aliens, Spirits, or Sleep Paralysis?

Some people claim they’ve been abducted by aliens while sleeping, where they’re transported through walls and onto alien ships, then probed, prodded, and poked. This has led people to devise various techniques to prevent these night time abductions: You can build your own Stop Alien Abduction Helmut, you could buy a book called How to Defend Yourself Against Alien Abduction, or you could fall back on the old practice of prayer (if it works against demons it’s got to work against aliens).

People who claim to be abducted in their sleep typically report being conscious yet are unable to move their limbs or talk, and they hear odd sounds and see lights, and have a feeling that they’re being watched. The most reasonable explanation for these experiences is Sleep Paralysis. This is where “a person wakes up paralyzed, senses a presence in the room, feels fear or even terror, and may hear buzzing and humming noises or see strange lights. A visible or invisible entity may even sit on their chest, shaking, strangling, or prodding them.”[1]

Sleep paralysis offers a good explanation for strange “encounters” of sleeping people from various cultures throughout the world. These include Hag Riding in Europe and parts of North America, where a witch attacks a sleeping victim; and Kanashibari in Japan, sometimes described as a devil stepping on a sleeping person’s chest; and Kokma in St. Lucia, which is described as the spirit of a dead baby that jumps on a sleeper’s chest and chokes him; and Popobawa in Zanzibar, which is a ghost-like creature with bat wings that sodomizes men in their sleep. Frankly, that last one seems quite frightful to me.

The fear that accompanies sleep paralysis can be very real for those who believe it involves aliens or malevolent spirits. But rest assured, this is a medically documented phenomenon. Here’s a website that offers good advice on how to cope with sleep paralysis. There are also certain medications that can help if you talk to a physician (not a homeopath, please). Sweat dreams.


[1]. Blackmore, Susan. (May/June 1998) “Abduction by Aliens or Sleep Paralysis?”
Skeptical Inquirer, p.25. Link to article here.

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