Causes of Sleep Paralysis

Before we get into the causes of sleep paralysis it should first be said that sleep paralysis can happen to anyone at any time for no apparent reason. This is true regardless of your spiritual state. If you have only experienced it a few times in your life, it may be fruitless to go looking for a cause for your sleep paralysis. That being said, for those of you who are experiencing it regularly (once every few months or more) there almost certainly is an underlying reason that you are experiencing it so often. This chapter is going to go over some of the most common reasons for regular occurrences of sleep paralysis.

Although I plan on making a very thorough list of causes, it’s very possible that I will either not mention the cause in your case, or even that, in the end, you may never know the cause of your regular sleep paralysis. The good news is that in our experience, it is not necessary to discover the cause of sleep paralysis in order to stop it for good. I write this chapter mainly for those people who are doing some of the obvious things that cause sleep paralysis, and cause it to get worse, so that they will know to stop doing those things. I also think that having a good understanding of the ways in which we leave ourselves open to demonic attack is useful information if we are to become victorious over sleep paralysis.


Before we get started discussing specific causes of sleep paralysis it is necessary to discuss the basics about how it is that we can open ourselves up to spiritual attacks.

Neither give place to the devil. – Eph 4:27

This verse in the Bible suggests that in some way we can give “place” to the devil. That word there for “place” in the Greek is topos. It means “opportunity, power, occasion for acting,” and there are certain things that we can do to give him and his agents this opportunity.

There are many things in the Bible that God tells us not to do because doing them will harm us. Take for example his warnings against practicing various forms of occult activity.

Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. Lev 19:31

Notice that God says not to practice these things because doing so will “defile” us in some way. Some people look at warnings like this in the Bible as a list of rules that God sort of made up for no reason. But I am suggesting that He gave us these warnings for our protection. He created everything, He knows how everything works, He loves us, and these warnings are for our protection against a spiritual world which is looking for an opportunity to attack us.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. – 1Pe 5:8

People are naturally protected from demonic attacks to a degree, but there are certain things we can do, or that can be done to us, that can wear away this natural protection and cause us to be vulnerable to the spiritual attacks. In most cases this is a slow process. Little by little the protection we have is eroded away as we consistently do the things that we were warned not to do. In this book I will often refer to this idea of our natural protection being worn away as “opening doors.”

There are two motives that demons have for trying to get us to open up doors for them in our life. The first is simple: they really hate us. This should be easy to believe for anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of being attacked by them. The evil and hatred that they have for us is so tangible that you can actually feel it. Any opportunity they can get for attacking us they usually take. The more of our natural protection they can get us to give away, the more access to us they have, and the more they can do to us. This is why those who have bigger doors open in their lives often experience the most intense attacks.

The second motive that they have for getting us to open doors in our life is more of a long-term plan. In the Bible there is a distinct difference between angels and demons in terms of their physicality. Angels often appear as men. They can do a number of physical things. For instance on one occasion they ate a meal with people. They have bodies, or at least they can operate in the physical world with ease. Demons on the other hand are the exact opposite; they do not have bodies and are constantly seeking to hijack a human’s body in order to have influence in the physical world.

In the Bible they seem to be desperate to be in a body, any body, animal or human. In Mark 5:12 they begged Jesus to send them into some pigs when He cast them out of the man, because apparently pigs’ bodies must have been much better for them than none at all. This begs the question: What is the alternative for them?

Jesus seems to answer that question in Matthew 12:43 when he said:

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

Demons are seeking embodiment, but they can’t do this easily. It takes a lot of time; they have to get a person to open up quite a lot of doors to actually possess them.

The interesting thing is that it seems to require human free will in order to begin to destroy this natural barrier we have. In other words they need a kind of invitation from us. But since very few people will actually consent to being possessed by a demon, they need to trick the person into giving them this invitation. This is most obvious when we study occult practices, all of which, in their various forms, are basically trying to do the same thing, which is to trick humans to giving away the natural protection that they have from demonic beings.

Take for example the Ouija board. It’s supposed to allow you to communicate with the spirit world right? Well, it does, in a sense.

Here’s the secret about a Ouija board: It’s just cardboard and paint. It has no power of its own. It is simply a way to get a human to ask for contact with spirits in their hearts, even if they don’t actually say it with their mouths. When you sit down and play with a Ouija board or go get a tarot card reading, what you are saying in your heart is: “Spirits, I want you to be here. I want to contact you.” You are giving them the only thing they need. There seems to be a kind of rule that they need your permission, and things like this are ways to trick you into giving it to them, to trick you into asking for them to be there. In exchange, they use the open invitation you have given them to so something supernatural which is intended to validate the experience and make you want to do more, which of course benefits them in the long run because it means you will be opening the door wider for them.

It should be noted at this point that I am not suggesting that doing the things I will mention in this chapter will cause you to be possessed, necessarily. It takes a lot of erosion of your natural protection in order to actually be possessed, and it’s pretty rare that it gets to that point. But doing the things that I will mention in this chapter will inch by inch get you closer to them being able to do this. In the meantime they use the little doors that they have to trick you into opening bigger ones.

I will now begin to go through the main causes of regular sleep paralysis and explain a little about each one and why they are dangerous to your spiritual health.

Occult practices

We have already spoken a little about occult practices and how they can lead to open doors, but there needs to be a more in-depth look on this topic. By far the worst cases of sleep paralysis that we have seen are from those that have been extremely involved in the occult. This would include Satanists, witches (male and female) and others who have devoted a considerable amount of time and energy into occult practices. They usually experience the worst that sleep paralysis has to offer, when attacks are very physical. Those are the extreme cases. But pretty much anyone who has spent much time dabbling in the occult will have opened up some doors in their life and are therefore more at risk for sleep paralysis.

Remembering that the Bible says that these things will “defile” us, it might be helpful to review a few other prohibitions of occult practices in the Bible.

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead…You must be blameless before the LORD your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. – Deuteronomy 18:10-14

Clearly God does not want us to do these things, and I hope you are beginning to see that He has a very good reason for this too. There are a number of other verses in the Bible that speak of occult practices and why they are bad. I will list a few of them here if you are interested in further study on this point.

Acts 19:18-19, Acts 16:16-19, Acts 7:42, Romans 1:25, Zephaniah 1:4-6, Ezekiel 8:16-18, Jeremiah 8:2, Isaiah 8:19-20, Job 31:26-28, 2 Chronicles 33:1-6, 2 Kings 17:16-17, 1 Samuel 28:7, Leviticus 20:6.

Sometimes I find that people are not exactly sure what occult practices are, so for clarity I will list a number of things that might fall into that category:

Tarot cards, Ouija board, casting spells, visiting psychics (mediums), attending séances, Satanic rituals, black/white magic, astral projection, remote viewing, channeling (allowing spirits to speak through you), crystal or “Orgone” use, Reiki, meditation, hypnosis or past-life regression, summoning spirits, ESP, PK ( ), telepathy, runes, metaphysical healing, palm-reading, automatic writing, divining, dowsing. This is by no means a complete list, but you will now be able to get the general idea of what I mean when I say “occult practices.”

The main reason that these are dangerous is because even though people really believe that the reason they work (if they actually work) is because of magical or mystical powers, the real reason is that behind the scenes it is simply the result of demons using their various abilities to make you think something magical is happening. They do this for the purpose of making you think you are getting something out of it, and they are hoping that you will become interested and keep going into deeper waters, seeking more power, so that they can have even more control over you as you open bigger doors. So all these occult practices are dangerous because at their heart, they are just calling upon demons to use their power, even though very few people who practice them actually know that is what they are doing.

Most people who have sleep paralysis will look at this list and say, “Oh no! I went to a fortune teller once or twice. That must be the reason I am having sleep paralysis.” While it is possible that such minimal occult practices could be the reason you are having sleep paralysis, it is not very likely. This section is really meant for those people that have been very active in the above practices. It is very rare that a person by simply playing with the Ouija board or going to a psychic once or twice has opened up the kind of doors in their life to explain regular sleep paralysis. That being said, there are certain things on this list that just doing them once would be enough to cause all kinds of problems. For example, “channeling,” the practice of asking for a spirit to speak through you, is a much more dangerous practice than, say, going to a hypnotist, and it could very well be the only thing that would be needed to cause severe sleep paralysis. In other words, not all occult practices are equal, and there are some that even doing them once can be enough to cause the biggest of open doors.

Let me give you a few examples as to how demons can empower things like fortune telling. We find in Acts 16: 16-19 that a girl was able to tell fortunes because of the demon that had control over her.

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation. And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.

So here we find a few interesting things: First, as I said, it was a demon that was giving this woman the power to tell fortunes. And when Paul cast out the demon, she was no longer able to do this. I will suggest that all forms of occult power in one way or another are empowered by demonic forces.

It’s not really even that complicated how demons can tell us about things that no one else knows. It is not because they can read your mind or can tell the future. Daniel 2: 27-28 shows us that they cannot. It’s all basically possible because they watch us. I’m not sure if we have certain demons assigned to watch us like C.S. Lewis envisioned in his book, The Screwtape Letters, or if they alternate shifts or what, the Bible doesn’t say. But they do observe us, and they know things about you that no one else knows because of this. They know what you ate for breakfast, they listened to you tell your friend a secret that no one else knows, they know where your great-grandmother hid the will. So when you talk to a psychic who has massively open doors in her life, they can communicate to her things about you that seem very impossible for them to know.

Another aspect of this is that demons communicate with one another. So for instance if you asked a psychic about something only your great-grandmother could know, the demon that was observing your great-grandmother when she was alive can be found to tell you things that only she would have known. This also explains séances, where people go to contact what they think are dead relatives but are really just demons impersonating them using the information and deceptive powers that they have at their disposal.

Once you understand what is really going on behind the scenes with occult practices it really stops being interesting at all, and in my opinion it’s all pretty lame when you get down to it. It’s all designed to get us to do one thing: become more interested, go further in, and give them more access to you through your free will.

In the Book of Acts in the Bible there is an interesting occasion when many people in Ephesus became Christians. They willingly brought together in one place all their occult books to destroy them.

Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.  – Act 19:19

To give you an idea of the value of these books, David Guzik in his commentary on Acts 19 estimates the value of fifty thousand pieces of silver to be about 1 million dollars by today’s standards. I think this helps to show that once you see the true nature of the occult, it becomes worthless.

I hope that anyone reading this is beginning to understand that exact point: That occult practices are worthless, if for no other reason than because of the toll that your relationship with demons is taking on you. It is eroding your natural protection from them, and it can lead to very bad places, even suicide.

Once the demons have a strong hold on you, they very often start to try to get you to kill yourself. I know that sounds harsh, but it seems that killing you off is one of their ultimate goals. Once they have the ability to plant thoughts in your head, they start whispering lies to you that are intended for you to despair about your life and kill yourself. You must begin to fight back if this is starting to happen to you.

The good news is that no matter how far you have gone into the world of the occult, there is hope for you. You have not gone too far. It can all be turned around, and you can be completely back to normal.

There is a wonderful story in the Bible of a man that had more open doors than I believe anyone could ever have. When Jesus asked the demon who possessed this man its name, it said, “We are Legion for we are many.” However, by the time Jesus was done with him he was as good as new. Jesus told him the following before He left him:

“Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” – Mark 5:19

Again, most cases of sleep paralysis caused by occult practices are not a result of possession, but merely open doors which can be easily closed again. However, if you continue down the road of the occult, it can end up in full demonic possession. But no matter where you are right now, know that the Lord will also do great things for you and have compassion on you, just like the man in Mark Chapter 5.


Drug use has long been a way to open up doors for demons, going back to the earliest civilizations. If you remember from a previous chapter we talked about shamans and how they used various drugs in order to contact the spiritual world. In the Bible the word that is often translated “sorcery,” which Webster’s dictionary defines as “the use of magical powers that are obtained through evil spirits,” actually comes from the Greek word pharmakeia which is where we get our English word “pharmacy.” In other words, the Bible considers drug use a type of sorcery. This seems obvious when you think about it. If the main way that people contacted evil spirits in the past was through drug use, then it’s clear that drug use is a type of sorcery.

Even in the medical world drug use has been linked to sleep paralysis. A study in 1999 showed that “Users of anxiolytic medication were nearly five times as likely to report SP”[1] Anxiolytic drugs include Benzodiazepines (like Xanax and Valium), Serotonergic antidepressants (SSRI’s), Adaptol, Afobazole, Selank, Bromantane, Tenoten, Mexidol, Azapirones, Barbiturates, Hydroxyzine, Pregabalin, Validol, and others.

Amazingly some doctors actually prescribe these drugs (especially SSRI’s and antidepressants) to treat sleep paralysis. This is a travesty because studies have shown that these drugs are almost completely ineffective for treating sleep paralysis, and they admit that there is no drug that has been found to completely interrupt episodes of SP.[2]  Even worse is that these drugs will actually make SP much worse in the long run for a person, which should be obvious because, as I said, these are the very drugs that are known to cause sleep paralysis. That being said, I am not a doctor, and I personally know several people for whom certain drugs are very helpful for their mental health, even if it doesn’t help with SP. If you have concerns about drugs you are taking, talk about them with your doctor, and if you do decide to go off any medications, it is imperative to do this with your doctor’s supervision.

Anxiolytics and antidepressants are not the only drug that we believe can cause or worsen sleep paralysis. It should be noted that there hasn’t been a comprehensive study done on which drugs can cause sleep paralysis, but in our personal experience we have noted a link between severe sleep paralysis and the consistent abuse of drugs like opiates, hallucinogens and amphetamines.

Just like in the occult section, this section is mostly intended for those people who are consistently using these drugs. It is very unlikely that only taking these drugs a few times in your life is the cause of your regular sleep paralysis. That being said, there are certain drugs like DMT or Ayahuasca, which even if taken once or twice seem to do great damage to the natural protective barrier that I have been speaking about. This is probably because such drugs, which are commonly used by shamans, open you up in a very direct way to demons. It is a common experience with these drugs to find yourself in the presence of an evil being[3], which is obviously not good for your spiritual health, considering all that we have been explaining so far.


In the two previous causes (occult practices and drugs) they were both things that the person experiencing sleep paralysis caused themselves; in other words, they opened the doors by their own choices. In this section we will be talking about doors that have been opened for the person by someone else, usually by parents or grandparents without them having a say in the matter.

In our research we have found that whenever a person says that they have been experiencing sleep paralysis for “as long as they can remember” or “since I was a child” there is a high probability that they will answer yes to the following question: “Have your parents or grandparent ever been heavily involved in the occult or a fraternal organization such as Freemasonry?” The reason we have such a high success rate with this question is indicative that we are on the right track with our conclusion about the causes of sleep paralysis. When a person is too young to do any of the other things that cause regular sleep paralysis, it can almost always be shown that someone else did these things on their behalf.

Generational sleep paralysis is usually only if the parents or grandparents were extremely involved in the occult, or, in the case of Freemasonry, if the person was particularly high up in the organization. In other words, I am not saying that your sleep paralysis is a result of your parent going to a psychic once or twice, nor is it a result of your grandparent being a first-degree Freemason. I think you will understand why this is limited only to extreme involvement in the occult when I explain why and how we think generational sleep paralysis occurs.

It seems that before a child has their own authority to give away, the authority over that child is held by the parents and even the grandparents. So it seems that the parent or grandparent of a child can actually give away that authority; that is, act on the child’s behalf. Only rarely is this done knowingly as in the case of a Satanist who actually has a ceremony where the child is given to Satan. In the vast majority of cases, however, this occurs unknowingly.  Much like in all the other forms of the occult, the person is being tricked into giving away this natural protection through occult practices. In this case, however, they are tricked into giving away the authority that they have over their children. In Freemasonry there are a number of oaths that are taken at the higher levels that seem to do just that. Because many of those oaths are secret, it is difficult to know what exactly is said or done. But based on the high instance of severe sleep paralysis among those who are children of high level Freemasons, it seems clear that this is occurring.

The exact mechanics of how or why generational sleep paralysis occurs and what specific things are said and done by the parents or grandparents to cause this is difficult to say for certain. But we have seen enough of this to know that there certainly is a connection between serious occultism with the parents and sleep paralysis in children.

One of the problems that we see with this issue is that when a person has had supernatural experiences since they were a child, they begin to believe that they have natural magical powers. This idea is so dangerous because it causes the person to seek out occult things as they grow older, which then of course leads to even bigger doors being opened in their life. So in the end, not only do they have open doors that their parents are responsible for, they have open doors that they are responsible for as well.

It should also be said that generational doors can cause some of the worst possible cases of sleep paralysis. It is not uncommon for someone who has had these doors opened for them at an early age to experience severe sleep paralysis.

In the end, closing generational doors is no more difficult than closing doors that were opened yourself. I want to leave this subject by saying that just like all the others, these doors can be closed for good.

Misc. Obsessions, or sin

There are a number of other things that have been reported by people as being the cause of their sleep paralysis. These are things like obsessive research into ghosts or aliens, obsessive sexual misconduct and intense anger or blasphemy against God. There are a number of other things that might be put into this category, but it might suffice to say that if there is something that is controlling your life, something that might be labeled as obsessive sin, it could very well be the thing that is causing or at least contributing to your regular sleep paralysis.

Plain Unlucky

Sometimes sleep paralysis can be a result of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. There are certain places that for various reasons can be “hot spots” for demonic activity. Usually the reason for this is that rituals have been done there for instance, certain hotel rooms, or particular rooms in old houses that have been used for séances or other rituals that involve the summoning of demons.

I sometimes don’t like mentioning this one because it’s very rare, but people very often kind of “choose” this one as their cause because they don’t want to be at fault for causing the sleep paralysis, and this one is kind of the easy way out. I can’t tell you how many people have written me saying things like, “It’s weird, every house I move to is haunted.” No one is that unlucky. Your house is not a former ritual site, you simply have open doors in your life for some reason or another.

Sent Spirits

One of the most basic rituals in all branches of serious occultism is the sending of spirits on people. Some branches of occultists interpret what they are doing in these rituals as simply putting a “curse” on someone. In reality, whether they understand what they are doing or not, they are essentially summoning a demon and sending it on someone to cause various types of problems. We have seen this happen occasionally, even with Christian missionaries who visit a place which local “witch doctors” consider their territory. The witch doctors then do certain rituals which can send demonic attack on the missionaries which can cause sleep paralysis.

It’s not necessary to know the cause

If you have read this chapter and didn’t find anything that applies to you, don’t worry. It’s not necessary to know exactly why your sleep paralysis is occurring in order to stop it. This chapter is mostly for people who are consistently doing the things that are major causes of sleep paralysis, and to point out to them that they will need to stop doing things like occult practices if they hope to have complete victory over sleep paralysis.

[1] Ohayon MM, Zulley J, Guilleminault C, Smirne S. Prevalence and pathologic associations of sleep paralysis in the general population. Neurology. 1999;52(6):1194-200.

[2] Stores, G. (2003). “Medication for sleep-wake disorders”. Archives of disease in childhood 88 (10): 899–903. doi:10.1136/adc.88.10.899. PMC 1719336. PMID 14500311.

[3] Erowid DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) Vault”. Retrieved 2012-09-20.