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Sleep Paralysis or Sleep Possession

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hi I’m 17 years old I just have a question about something thats been occurring to me for a while now…lately I’ve been having dreams where I find myself completely paralyzed, and in some of those dreams I feel a presence of some sort. A couple of months ago I had dream, I was watching TV in my living room when the TV started buzzing, then some breeze happened a few seconds after that it felt as if somebody was touching me from behind, after a few minutes of trying to yell, scream kick or move i woke up… now today I had a similar one, this time the presence I felt before was controlling my body, it was something completely scary I’m positive it has something to do with sleep… I just need help understanding what this is. (age 17, from Canada)

Sleep Paralysis or Sleep Possession

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A: Dreams are very strange things that can be hard to understand in our awake, rational state. Some people put a lot of weight on them and what they might mean and others don’t, like it’s just our brain spitting out random data while we sleep. The dreams you mention here are not uncommon. Many people have dreams in which they feel paralyzed, can’t scream, can’t move, and are frightened into waking up. Most dream interpretations look for the themes and underlying feelings, rather than interpreting the dream literally. So you might think about what is going on in your life right now that makes you feel helpless or as if you are being controlled in some manner. If you can identify what you are struggling with during your waking hours and take steps to deal with it, the issues may not be so bothersome in your sleep.

Our sleep, and our dreams, is also affected by many things such as drug and alcohol use, stress, fatigue, diet, and exercise levels. Doing an overall system check up may lead to better sleep. It is also advisable not to watch violent or stressful TV or play video games before bed, and to eliminate them altogether during particularly stressful times of life. Many people find it helpful to pray, meditate or journal before bed so that it quiets the mind and leads to more restful sleep.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

Sleep Paralysis or Sleep Possession

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). Sleep Paralysis or Sleep Possession. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 20 Oct 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.