2. A feeling of being “pressed down” by an invisible weight
People who experience sleep paralysis will often describe the experience as feeling like they were being pressed down by a heavy, invisible weight like a heavy person sitting on their chest and restricting their ability to move or breathe.
In reality, there’s nothing there, but the brain interprets the signals it receives from trying to fall asleep as something else, and this leads to a combination of being both awake and asleep at the same time – which can blur the line for anyone who experiences it.
Sleep paralysis often starts with the feeling of tingling or numbness in the limbs, but the feeling of “weight” on top of them is the most common symptom experienced after this (or sometimes at the same time).
There are many classic paintings that depict this invisible weight as demons or other creatures: Even though there’s nothing physically there, these paintings do a good job of describing what this symptom can feel like.