Sleep Paralysis: Different Names Of ‘Demon’ From Around The World

What is sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is what happens to your body when consciousness overlaps with the muscle atonia phase of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

For a simpler explanation, it means that the brain is wide awake and lucid while the body is fast asleep. What causes sleep paralysis? There is no clear explanation for why this happens but expert believes that this is caused by a disturbed REM. It is also believed that this condition might be hereditary.

Sometimes, this is attributed to stress and disrupted sleep schedules. There were also studies that linked social anxiety or panic disorder and sleep paralysis.

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Based on the article in Mental Floss, this sleep disorder is considered a “demon” in different parts of the world and it has a distinct name in other countries.

This word is from the Proto-Indo-European root mer meaning “to harm”. The term refers to a (typically female) demon who paralyzes sleepers and suffocates them.

In German, this word literally means “witch’s pressing” and because witches are blamed for misfortune, the sufferings of sleepers are also blamed on them.

Ogun Oru
Ogun oru in Yoruba of southwest Nigeria means “nocturnal warfare” and is seen as a type of demonic invasion of the body and mind.

This is the Japanese term for sleep paralysis which means “bound in metal.”

Se me subió el muerto
The term means “a dead body climbed on top of me” and this came from Mexico.

Old Hag
This phrase is popular in Canada’s Newfoundland province as a term for this sleep disorder.

This is the term for a creature of Turkish folklore whose name means “the dark assailer” or “the dark presser.

Pan Ephialtes
The word ephialtes (“jumping on you”) was first used by Greek physician Galen. Then Byzantine physician Paulus Aegineta called it “pan ephialtes” in the 7th century CE.

This term is the one being used to call the evil spirit from the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar.

Gawi nulim 
This Korean term is from gawi, meaning “nightmare, incubus,” and nulida, meaning “to be pressed down.”

This refers to an attack by shamans or malevolent spirits while a person is sleeping and this is from the Inuit term from Canada’s Baffin Islan.

The Brazilian term means “she who steps” and this describes the creature who is a ragged, long-fingernailed crone originating in southwestern Brazil.

This term is used for a big demon dog from Catalan folklore that might occasionally appear as a cat, just to mix things up.

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