Lately, while watching several programs on television about the paranormal, including a couple on alleged ghost activity and one on possession, I was interested to hear several people describing incidences which were obviously sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis is a frightening phenomenon in which a person wakes from sleep to find that he or she is frozen; eyes open and aware of everything that is happening but unable to move a single muscle or even blink. It can last for a few minutes or several days. It is accepted as a condition having nothing to do with the paranormal by the medical community.

In an article for Associated Content written in 2007,”Paranormal Activity or Sleep Paralysis,” Nannette Richford recounts a two-year period of time while living in a college dorm when she experienced sleep paralysis frequently. On one occasion, she awoke to see a very bright light in the room, for which she had no later explanation. She was frozen at that time just like in the other incidences, and the only difference was the light. She dismissed all paranormal connections at the time, but when she wrote the article in 2007, she was wondering why sleep paralysis only occurred to her in that room, at that time, and her dorm mate down the hall was experiencing very similar phenomena!

Psychologists explain that some people who believe they have been abducted by aliens actually have suffered from sleep paralysis, and when you understand the symptoms, this makes sense.

What causes sleep paralysis to occur? According to MedicineNet, it is a temporary disconnect between the brain and the body. During REM sleep, when most of our dreaming occurs, our body is usually mostly disconnected from our brain, so that we don’t sleepwalk or act out our dreams. On rare occasions, when one awakens from REM sleep, that disconnect lingers for a period of time, usually short. During that time, the body is still frozen, but the mind is still caught between waking and sleeping. The brain is receiving information as though the body was awake, but it is warping it the way information is warped in a dream.