“I can’t breathe! Who’s that? I want to scream out loud, but all that comes out is a gurgle. Someone is strangling my throat, sitting on my chest, heatedly breathing down my neck. I try to raise my hands, but cannot move an inch. The pressure on my chest is unbearable, my throat hurts, ugh, I can’t breathe……………….”
Dramatic much? I’m pretty sure that all of us have been there at least once. Body paralyzed chest heavy, all those things which seem like a horrific scene from a horror movie. In many cases, people often become paranoid about these attacks that they refuse to sleep. But what causes this? Or rather who does?
Well, no one knew the answer for years, but everyone was scared of it. Duh! Who wants to be attacked at night like that? So, for a long time in history, we humans did what we’ve always done when we run short of reasonable, plausible explanations; blame it on the supernatural. And thus, the Incubus (male) and the Succubus (female) took birth, demonic monsters who attacked at night, often having sexual contact with the victim. Amazing imagination we got there! And so, this phenomenon was called the Incubus phenomenon.
But later on, science gave us the answer to this mysterious monster. The Incubus phenomenon happens when the victims are experiencing a waking dream or sleep paralysis. In simple words, it just means that we are partially awake, and partially dreaming, creating an experience that seems exceptionally and frightfully real.
The condition occurs when we are either falling asleep or waking up, during the REM (rapid-eye movement) stage of the sleep, the stage when the person is conscious and when dreams generally occur. The body’s muscles are very relaxed at this point, to the level of paralysis. So when sleep paralysis occurs, the mind wakes up, but since the person is still dreaming, the body is paralyzed. And so, our ever-protective and vigilant brain kick into action, activated by the potential threat, creating a frightful hallucination of a creature sitting on the chest. It’s a mixture of a nightmare and reality, so to the person, it all seems so damn real.
However, recent studies suggest that these nightmares may be a bit more serious than what has been previously thought. Therefore, it should be taken more seriously by people who are affected by mental disorders, like depression, schizophrenia, etc.
However, not all people consider it a frightening experience. In an account given by a 15-year-old, she woke up to find a few mini-penguins having a dinner party on her chest and that she was very thrilled to meet them!
Well, I certainly wouldn’t mind the Incubus, if he comes in the form of Jared Leto!
Read next – When My Body is Someone Else’s