Being awake and fully conscious without being able to move, aka sleep paralysis, is a deeply frightening experience for anyone who suffers it. It makes complete sense that anyone who's experienced it could think they're having an X-Files moment — though, as terrifying as it is, sleep paralysis is a well-documented medical phenomenon. The fear of visited by something otherworldly while sleeping is one of the creepy myths about sleep paralysis that's persisted for millennia. "Before modern medical science figured out what causes sleep paralysis, many cultures around the world created extraordinary explanations to explain this ordinary phenomenon. Because many people experience visual or auditory hallucinations during sleep paralysis, this phenomenon has long been explained by paranormal or demonic activity," Jennifer Wilber explained on Exemplore.
In 2018, sleep paralysis is described by Medical News Today as "a common, generally benign, parasomnia characterized by brief episodes of inability to move or speak combined with waking consciousness." However, if you've ever had your own experience with sleep paralysis, then you know that words like "common" and "benign" do little to quell the fear that comes with being helplessly trapped in your body. During sleep paralysis, some people experience terrifying hallucinations that make it seem like they're residing inside the movie A Nightmare On Elm Street IRL. I mean, who would ever want to go to sleep again after seeing an evil apparition that they're unable to escape because they can't move? This is where some of the creepiest myths about sleep paralysis come from. Because, even if the demon isn't real, the fear most definitely is.