Ever felt suffocated while asleep, like someone was sitting on you?
It’s difficult to explain to people who haven’t experienced sleep paralysis. For some, sleep paralysis are really terrifying experiences, for others they’re just shrugged off as minor sleep disturbances.
Carla MacKinnon experienced severe, crippling episodes of sleep paralysis, and made this short docu-horror ‘Devil In The Room’ to unmask the devils in the room and in her head.
The scientific explanation? Simplistically: the brain induces muscular paralysis while one drifts into a REM sleep with very vivid dreaming.
Between 20 – 40% of the population has experienced it: in a state of half-sleep and not being able to move. About 5% of these people sense a presence in the room, have difficulty breathing, and are in intense fear.
But these episodes can be very disturbing, and very confusingly real, as the horror is revisited and animated in this documentary.
She shares: “I hope that people who are subject to sleep paralysis will be able to recognise some of their experience in this film, but will also be able to use it as a way into finding out more about the scientific background of the phenomenon.
“The research I have done on the project has greatly altered my relationship to sleep paralysis. I still occasionally experience attacks, but am now able to stay calm and examine them from an informed, analytical perspective.
“I have found that by focusing on details of the experience and cross-referencing them against my research I can distract my mind from the sense of fear and threat, robbing the experience of the overwhelmingly dark power it used to possess.”
Carla made this as part of her MA degree in Animation at Royal College of Art.
Visit The Sleep Paralysis Project for more information about her work.