People who experience sleep paralysis demon feel heavy boulder on the chest and would not be able to move or speak. The emotions involved are fear, panic, and numbness. The word ‘mare’ is derived from old English, meaning, mythological term that refers to a spirit who brings bad dreams. The painting below depicts the sleep paralysis demon experienced by people and on contrary, there was folklore belief from the various country that it is the demons and witches who possessed people during the sleep.
Research believes that sleep paralysis is linked to insomnia, changing of sleep schedule, mental stress such as bipolar disorder, narcolepsy, and the use of certain medications. There are five stages of sleep such as awake, light sleep, deep sleep, REM (rapid eye movement), and repeat. You experience frequent awakening during the night. During light sleep, our muscles relax with a slow heart rate, and will easily be disturbed. During deep sleep, it promotes muscle growth, increases blood flow, and repair cells.
During REM sleep, your heart rate increases, blood flow to the genitals, brain activity is high such as learning, problem-solving, and dreams will also occur. Therefore, it is believed that sleep paralysis occurs during REM sleep. In the early stage of sleep, NREM (non-rapid eye movement) occurs more frequently, and then in later stages, REM (rapid eye movement) occurs. During REM sleep, you’re more likely to dream and then see a shadowy figure lurking and become paralyzed because it reduced the muscle tone in the body.