Home / News / Have you been abducted by aliens? Levitated off your bed or encountered a demon? Sleep paralysis explains your experience.
Have you been abducted by aliens?  Levitated off your bed or encountered a demon?  Sleep paralysis explains your experience.

Have you been abducted by aliens? Levitated off your bed or encountered a demon? Sleep paralysis explains your experience.

A brain phenomena called "sleep paralysis" helps to explain why some people report having memories of being abducted by aliens.

When we dream, our brain shuts off our ability to move so that we don't injure ourselves, acting out those dreams, National Geographic reports.  When we wake up, it switches our ability to move back on again.  Sometimes the switch is out of sync and we wake up, paralyzed.

Brian Sharpless, a clinical psychologist at Penn State, specializes in studying sleep paralysis.  He says that sleep paralysis can be a terrifying experience, not only for the paralysis but for the hallucinations that often accompany it.  The hallucinations vary, but come in three general types:  the intruder, the incubus — something pressing on your chest, and levitation.  Put them together and you might have something strikingly similar to a UFO abduction story.  "I think all three categories are consistent with what people who report being abducted by aliens experience — having a presence in the room, the feeling that someone's on top of you, sexually assaulting you, or potentially levitating you," Sharpless says.

Sleep paralysis has happened to people throughout the ages, and hallucinations are reflective of the culture .  "Where one time or place might find witches, demons, ghosts and spirits as an explanation for sleep paralysis, it's possible that 21st century Americans might find technologically advanced aliens as an explanation."


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About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

    I think one of the worst is dreaming about violence and not being able to stop it during nightmare, but you can wake up from it, once you realize it's just a dream, that is. I had one where I was being sexually assaulted and it seemed so real, but when I actually woke up, there was no on in the house except my sleeping children. Such things are rather haunting though, long after you wake up from the dream. The hardest part, sometimes, is convincing yourself it was just a nightmare and quite possibly a flashback to a real event in one's past, but not UFOs and aliens. It also can relate to something weighing quite heavily one your mind- fear of a possible future event, due to current events or alike, but what you fear is not going to turn out exactly how you dream it. Sometimes events in nightmares could be merely symbolic of what you fear and events triggering one's fear could lead up to what you are fearing, but not like the nightmare. Such as ongoing religious and/or political violence and hatred leading to fear of worse violence. Worse things sometimes do happen and due to history, we know such things could happen again, which gives us feelings that something worse could happen if things don't change and we end up having nightmares about it. We know history repeats itself, thus we have nightmares about it and sometimes the serious of events do lead to worse things, but not as we dream them.

    The problem is deciphering if it was just a nightmare, a flashback, or a sense/fear that something worse could happen if things don't change or just a nightmare. Don't get me wrong- this sense/fear of something worse happening in relationship to nightmares is not a prediction/omen/prophesy, but rather understanding and knowing history and human behaviour.

    MLK Jr knew history and he also knew humans, thus his dreams/nightmares. It's not that he purposefully put himself in such circumstances, but the fact he was fighting to change things and people's reactions to his desire to make social change that gave him that sense that he was not going to see the change he fought for. He knew if he stopped fighting for social change he might have lived longer, but he could not stop fighting for change out of fear. Because he could not stop, understood human behaviour, and knew history, he knew the potential end result, but it wasn't prophesy though and I can pretty much bet his death did not happen exactly the way he dreamed it. It was probably symbolic, but most definitely not the reality of things to come.

    People know, from experience (historical or personal) that if they do A, B might happen. Also, past events can haunt people in their dreams and have nothing to do with what a person fears could happen in the future. Sometimes they are just nightmares of what we fear most, like snakes, and mean nothing more than a phobia, or fears something bad will happen to a child or whatever, but have nothing to do with reality.

    Other times, dreams and nightmares are as Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." In other words, sometimes a dream/nightmare is just that.

    • Ricardo Barrios

      So true! You are a big and professional woman! God bless you and Grettings form Venezuela!

      • Ricardo Barrios

        from*

        • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

          Muchos gracias and don't worry about the typos, because my Spanish is muy malo. If I wrote this whole post in Spanish, without my Spanish-English dictionary, I might have butchered the spelling of some words and said something totally different from what I actually meant too. :)

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