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Sleep paralysis is not a Jinn attack

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Question:

Our daughter is having strange experiences during sleep. She complains of feeling something pressing down on her chest which paralyzes her entire body. She cannot even speak. This stops and starts throughout the night. It happens so frequently that she has become depressed and angry. We feel that this is an attack from the Jinn and we want to know what she can do about it.

Answer:

The Scientific Research Committee - IslamToday.net
 

These symptoms should not be construed as an attack from the Jinn. This is a very common problem. It is a condition known as sleep paralysis (SP).

Sleep paralysis is defined as a condition in which someone, usually lying in a supine position, about to drop off to sleep, or just upon waking from sleep, realizes that he is unable to move, speak, or cry out. Many complain that they try to recite Ayah al-Kursî but are unable to do so. People in this condition are often beset by feelings of fear or dread and frequently try, unsuccessfully, to cry out. After seconds or minutes, they feel suddenly released from the paralysis, but may be left with a lingering sense of anxiety.

Many people experience this sensation while falling asleep or as they are waking up and it can cause them discomfort. Some people describe it to be as if they feel as if someone is sitting on their chest.

Common secondary symptoms of this condition are as follows:

  • A feeling of being choked or suffocated
  • A feeling of being pinned down or sat upon (particularly in the chest area)
  • Auditory hallucinations, typically the sounds of footsteps and voices nearby or knocking or banging on the walls
  • Visual hallucinations, typically beings or dark shadows surrounding or standing near the bed
  • A frightening feeling of descending or encompassing evil or dread
  • Shaking of the body or a rumbling sensation (ringing) in the ears
  • A feeling of intense, suffocating evil
  • A feeling of being in a dream-like state while at the same time sensing being awake

The source of this phenomenon is a natural bodily function. When you sleep, your brain shuts off the signals coming from your muscles so you do not get up and act out your dreams. This is to prevent you from injuring yourself in your sleep. For some reason, people with sleep paralysis come into consciousness before the brain returns voluntary control back to the muscles, creating a sense of feeling paralyzed. This sensation is quite uncomfortable and understandably frightening, which can lead the not wholly conscious person to experience some of the secondary symptoms of this disorder that can often be very frightening and realistic.

None of what you describe is strange, peculiar, or in the least bit exceptional. It is a benign condition. Several recent surveys suggest that between 25-30% of people have experienced at least a mild form of sleep paralysis at least once and about 20-30% of these people have experienced it on several occasions.

However, if it is a frequent problem for you that is impairing your sleep or causing you discomfort, then you should seek medical attention for it. There are actually many treatments and prescriptions for this condition.

Doctors suggest that getting on a regular sleep schedule and avoiding sleep deprivation are helpful in alleviating this condition.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

  • Category: Fatawa
  • Publication Date: 8 Rabi' al-awwal 1435