Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What predicts distress after episodes of sleep paralysis?

Date:
March 4, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Ever find yourself briefly paralyzed as you're falling asleep or just waking up? It's a phenomenon called sleep paralysis, and it's often accompanied by vivid sensory or perceptual experiences, including complex and disturbing hallucinations and intense fear. For some, sleep paralysis is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; for others, it can be a nightly phenomenon.

Ever find yourself briefly paralyzed as you're falling asleep or just waking up? It's a phenomenon is called sleep paralysis, and it's often accompanied by vivid sensory or perceptual experiences, which can include complex and disturbing hallucinations and intense fear.
Credit: Tom Wang / Fotolia

Ever find yourself briefly paralyzed as you're falling asleep or just waking up? It's a phenomenon is called sleep paralysis, and it's often accompanied by vivid sensory or perceptual experiences, which can include complex and disturbing hallucinations and intense fear.

For some people, sleep paralysis is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; for others, it can be a frequent, even nightly, phenomenon.

Researchers James Allan Cheyne and Gordon Pennycook of the University of Waterloo in Canada explore the factors associated with distress after sleep paralysis episodes in a new article published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The researchers used an online survey and follow-up emails to survey 293 people. They measured post-episode distress using a range of items, from post-episode rumination to interference with next-day functioning.

The level of distress following sleep paralysis episodes was associated with features of the sleep paralysis episode itself. For example, the results showed that the more fear people felt during sleep paralysis episodes, the more distress they felt afterward.

The researchers also found that sensory experiences during episodes of sleep paralysis predicted later distress. Feelings of threat and assault -- such as sensing a presence in the room, feeling pressure on the chest, having difficulty breathing, or having a feeling of imminent death -- were all associated with distress following sleep paralysis episodes. So, too, were vestibular-motor experiences, including feelings of floating or falling and out-of-body experiences.

Cheyne and Pennycook speculate that the sensory experiences that come with episodes of sleep paralysis could exacerbate people's fear, creating a feedback loop that enhances memories of experiences later on.

Post-episode distress was also associated with a number of individual-level factors, including cognitive style, distress sensitivity, and supernatural beliefs about sleep paralysis.

People who held supernatural beliefs about sleep paralysis experiences also experienced greater post-episode distress. Those who had more analytic cognitive styles, on the other hand, experienced comparatively less distress after sleep paralysis episodes.

Taken together, these findings show that both situational factors and individual factors contribute to these common, and often stressful, personal experiences.

These findings are important, the researchers say, because they provide insight into a common experience of distress that is not well understood. Some participants lamented that their experiences of terror following episodes of sleep paralysis were often dismissed by clinicians.

Given that a large percentage of people report some carryover effects on their functioning the next day, sleep paralysis could "make a significant contribution to the billions of dollars, worldwide, in costs associated with accidents, illnesses, and lost productivity associated with sleep disturbances," the researchers note.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. A. Cheyne, G. Pennycook. Sleep Paralysis Postepisode Distress: Modeling Potential Effects of Episode Characteristics, General Psychological Distress, Beliefs, and Cognitive Style. Clinical Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/2167702612466656

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "What predicts distress after episodes of sleep paralysis?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130304123536.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, March 4). What predicts distress after episodes of sleep paralysis?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130304123536.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "What predicts distress after episodes of sleep paralysis?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130304123536.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins