Scientists now believe that sleep paralysis is an explanation for the elusive phenomenon of alien abductions. How is this possible? Once again, it’s our brain that’s playing tricks.
Strangers in the night
You’re in your bed. It’s dark, comfortable and quiet, and you feel safe – after all, it’s your bedroom. You drift off into slumber.
Suddenly, you wake up. You can’t move, feel pressure on your chest, and although you’re not even able to look around, you’re convinced there’s someone in your room.
The sense of horror overwhelms you. You want to scream, but you can’t. Maybe you see some light, maybe some silhouettes.
After some time, the feeling passes. You can move again and start breathing normally. But what was that horrifying experience? No, the aliens had nothing to do with it – you’ve just experienced sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis – what is it?
Sleep paralysis is one of over a hundred sleep disorders. It mostly happens when an individual wakes up from REM sleep, but their body still remains in REM. In other words, our mind and body are out of sync for a brief period of time. You are literally locked inside your body, but not in the driver seat.
Each night during sleep, you enter different sleep stages. REM is the weirdest – the brain works at its full capacity, but the body is paralyzed. The motor cortex lights up, but you can’t move. That’s a neat evolutionary solution for keeping you safe – the brain paralyzes the body, so you can’t act on your dreams and go flying out of a tenth story window.
When you enter the next sleep stage or wake up, the brain should release you from the paralysis, but on rare occasions, this message gets delayed, and you get stuck in this paralytic limbo.
Sleep paralysis is a relatively common experience – Professor Matthew Walker, the author of “Why we sleep,” states that sleep paralysis is as common as hiccups.
So, where do alien abductions fit in this scenario?
Physical evidence of alien abduction is extremely rare. But think about the symptoms of sleep paralysis for a minute. It happens at night, you’re unable to move, and have a strong sense of a foreign presence in the room.
The brain always looks for the most plausible explanation. A few centuries ago, such an event might have been explained by witchcraft or sorcery. But we live in a technology-centered society, so it makes more sense to seek an explanation in an extraterrestrial influence.
In 2005, a study was done which compared the incidence of sleep paralysis (accompanied by the feeling of “alien abduction”) between two groups – a control group and a group with individuals suffering from repressed, recovered, or continuous memories of childhood sexual abuse. It turned out that the group with the traumatic experiences more often reported sleep paralysis than the control group, leading the researchers to believe that the “alien phenomenon” is just a manifestation of our repressed feelings prompted by the disconnect between our body and mind.
The evidence of aliens is very scarce (and only a handful of people think it’s valid). With that in mind, the only explanation for the feelings of a foreign presence associated with “alien abductions” are the symptoms of sleep paralysis – a sleep disorder as common as hiccups.