Monday, November 26, 2007

"Ghost Press Bed" Syndrome

Have you ever been crushed by a "ghost" when you are asleep? Is 鬼压床 a familiar experience for you?

I thought I was the only person who has this sort of experience, so I was surprised when I read about someone else being possessed by a ghost.

I actually have a similar experience sometimes. What happens is, sometimes when I am half-asleep or half-awake, I would have a feeling of the whole body being pressed by a heavy object, and I can’t move my muscle, and hard as I wish, I can’t wake myself up. I think this is what the Chinese traditionally refer to as “ghost press bed”, and probably refers to the sleep paralysis in medical terms.

The event is usually followed by a sensation of the whole bed tilting backwards like the tilt table test. Again, I can’t resist it with my conscious will. Sometimes I would chant “Amitabha” in my mind (even though I am not a devout Buddhist) and the sensation would fade away. But I guess it would go away even if I don’t do anything anyway.

Just sharing my personal experience here. Make of it as you would.

Note: This is adapted from my comment in Malaysian Medical Resource.
Image Credit: Good dreams from


Anonymous said...

And what is the rationalist's take on this?

youngyew said...

It should be all in my mind. Of course I can't make 100% guarantee of that. Read more about sleep paralysis in Wikipedia. The doctors at the Malaysian Medical Resource says it might well be the case.

ajl577 said...

ok Anonymous so how would you explain my experience at a friends house, when I was pressed. I had slept there many times but one night while I was in his bed I had this dream where I was being pressed. At first it didn't scare me, for some strange reason, it did not scare or alarm me, I just kind of felt like it was a game....Until I got to the point where I was starting to suffocate, then I started to struggle and in the dream I woke up to this thing in my face, with teeth like an angler fish and red eyes, just gaudy kind of exaggerated evil.
It kept on choking me so I thought the Lords prayer and it instantly let up, whereupon I sat bolt upright in bed waking my friend. I was nervous and laughed it off and went back to bed but it was an uneasy sort of sleep. I woke up in the morning and something was just bugging the crap outta me, just nagging at me to the point where I had to tell him.
He is a no-nonsense, scientific, analytical type. He sort of chuckled and told me that it happened to him twice and that two other people described the same 'thing' that I had described. Too close to be coincidence in what it looked like.
I don't believe in that type nonsense but that SEVERELY creeped me the F out. To the point where I would not sleep there anymore. So I don't know how much proof you need but that was not some mass hallucination. I had never met the other 2 people so how in the HELL would they know what the F*CK that thing looked like. HOW, dammit, HOW!?!?

changyang1230 said...

Just saw your comment ajl577.

I think there are two parts to these experience, the sensation of being pressed or moved, and the state of being paralysed. There is a well-understood rationale to the latter state - about one quarter of your sleep consist of the "rapid eye movement sleep", or REM sleep, where the brainwaves is almost similar to being awake. This is when the most vivid dream usually happens. In order to prevent ourselves from acting out their dreams and hurting themselves, our muscles are usually semi-paralysed automatically. These phenomena are well studied and understood.

So what I think is happening during these "ghost pressing" experience, is that we are at a state of having a vivid dream, but are also aware of our inability to move our body (which we aren't normally aware of).

The wikipedia has a very nice page on this too:

It also provides the theory behind the sensation of being compressed or suffocated.