Have you ever went to sleep, then woke up later on with eyes wide open, but find you can’t control your body? Sleep Paralysis is the medical term for what people some times refer to as “the devil is on my back”, “the devil is riding my back”, or “the devil is on my shoulder.”
In any case, most of us have experienced this at some point in our lives. Some of use more than others. Some of us are lucky enough not to know what this even refers to. I will start with a brief explanation of what the medical community and others say about Sleep Paralysis. I will conclude with my theory on what this experience actually is.
Sleep Paralysis gets it devilish nickname because the individual who experiences this are often times frightened. Why are people frightened? Because when you experience Sleep Paralysis, you have zero control over moving your body at any level, combined with a sense that someone or something is in the room with you as you lie in bed. Hence it feels like “the devil is on your back” because you can’t move despite the fact that your mind is telling you to act because there is danger near by.
I have researched medical explanations for why this happens, and not surprising no one gives an answer to why this happens. Instead, they type a bunch of medical jargon, which when read deeply, one quickly figures out they simply have no idea why this happens. Most studies do tend to agree it happens during REM stage of sleep. REM, rapid eye movement usually occurs during the morning hours of sleep right before you wake. This does not explain why myself and others usually experience this within a short time after falling asleep not during the morning hours.
The following is my theory on why this happens.
You and I are composed of three parts. The soul (you and I), the body, and the mind. The body and mind are just tools for our use. We are the soul. So when we go to bed, our mind and body enter a state of shut down. A period of rest. While our soul detaches itself from this earthly realm (body and mind) and takes a journey through the spirit world. We are for the most part not able to tap into this journey consciously, because well our mind is no longer being used, it is in rest. But what does happen is, we remember fragments of these journeys and we call them dreams.
REM sleep, consist of the final phase of sleeping. This is the phase where most if not all dreams occur. REM gets it name because literally our eyes are moving rapidly during this phase. Why is this so? Because what actually is happening during this phase is our soul is attaching itself back to the mind and body, thus flooding our mind with all the experiences our soul encountered during its journey. We call this dreaming.
Think about it like this, it would be like watching a combination of several movies and tv shows in a row on 500x fast forward. We try to observe and remember what we are seeing, but it is going by so quick we can only catch certain fragments (dreams). Some of us have the ability to retain this flood of information better than others, hence they can remember dreams very well. While some of use can’t remember a single second. But that topic is for another discussion.
Ok, finally after all that, what is Sleep Paralysis? Sleep Paralysis happens because our mind and body awaken from their rest state moments after our soul starts the detach process. So our mind is fully aware and the body ready for action lacks a missing piece with gives it the fuel to move and react in the physical world (soul, us). So what happens is, mentally we start freaking out. Our soul (us) only recently detached, recognizes that a flaw in the process has occurred, and re-attaches itself. Thus we are able to move again, and we breathe a sigh of relief.
So the next time the devil decides to ride on your back, just remember it is just your soul going out for its nightly jog.