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Author Topic: Sleep paralysis research  (Read 81609 times)

Offline julia2406

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Sleep paralysis research
« on: 06/05/2005 14:44:24 »
Hello,

I'm a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. I'm researching various aspects of a commonly experienced sleep disorder called sleep paralysis. This is the feeling of not being able to move either as you are going to sleep or as you are waking up. It might feel as though you cannot move your arms or legs and cannot speak or cry out.

I am developing a new questionnaire to investigate sleep paralysis experiences and I need to analyse responses to an existing questionnaire before I start. I have this brief questionnaire on my webpages and I need people who have had sleep paralysis once or more to complete it.

It will take just a couple of minutes, it is anonymous and has been given full ethical approval by the departmental ethics committee. So, if you've had sleep paralysis once or more then please visit < newbielink:http://homepages.gold.ac.uk/sleep/nei.php [nonactive] >.

If you fill in the questionnaire you are given the option of opting in to have the results of the study emailed to you (this will be in a few months). If anyone is interested I can post the results on this forum as well.

Thank you very much, Julia
« Last Edit: 24/09/2006 11:57:15 by another_someone »


 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #1 on: 15/05/2005 22:10:02 »
Done. Good luck with your PhD. Mine is also in Psychology
 

Offline OldMan

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #2 on: 17/05/2005 04:23:42 »
From your description I thought I'd had this once but it turned out I was just dreaming. Perhaps this is the case with other people but they just don't realise they are dreaming.

Tim
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #3 on: 17/05/2005 12:05:32 »
OldMan - I've suffered from sleep paralysis & I can assure you it's not a dream. I've filled in Julia's questionnaire & sent her an email relating some of the effects I suffered during those bouts.
I also think the fact that so many people experience exactly the same effects precludes the dream option.

It wasn't me - a big boy did it & ran away
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #4 on: 17/05/2005 12:48:12 »
Well, my answer to the survey was very brief, I answered NO...however, spending my entire life in and out of sleep orientated institutions I am very intersted in Julias conclusions and hope that she does post the results here. If she doesn't would you mind (Tim and Eth)posting the results when you receive them ?

cheers

neil


Men are the same as women.... just inside out !!
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #5 on: 17/05/2005 14:53:19 »
Will do, Neil

It wasn't me - a big boy did it & ran away
 

Offline julia2406

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #6 on: 17/05/2005 14:56:27 »
Hello,

Thanks to all of you who filled in my questionnaire (and for the good luck). I will certainly post the results of my study here (if thatís OK with Chris) and this will be in a few months time.

In response to Timís message, I totally agree with Doctorbeaver. You would know if you had experienced sleep paralysis mainly because of the bodily paralysis and partly because of the commonly experienced accompanying hallucinations which are hallucinatory (!) in nature Ė that is you believe them to be reality. I donít think that dreams have this level of vividness or clarity.

Perhaps if someone did experience very vivid dreams they might be confused as to whether they had experienced SP or not but if they did not experience bodily paralysis then it wasnít SP. It is common for humans to experience hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations (hallucinations experienced at sleep onset and upon waking up) - this is often hearing someone call your name - but again, if there is no bodily paralysis then it is not SP.

I half hope that I will experience sleep paralysis one day so that I can understand it from a subjective perspective but it does sound pretty scary so maybe not.

Thanks again, Julia
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #7 on: 17/05/2005 18:51:16 »
Julia, are you aware of the myth of the Old Hag? It goes back to medieval times. Many people experienced the sensation of pressure on their chest while they were asleep & allegedly awoke to find an old hag sitting astride them. It's a long time since I read about it & I can't remember the whole story. But that may be an indication that SP has been around for a very long while.

It wasn't me - a big boy did it & ran away
 

Offline daveshorts

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #8 on: 17/05/2005 20:53:17 »
I may have once or twice woken up and not been able to move, but I think I was aware that it was sleep paralysis so not paniced, and within a few seconds I could move anyway...
 

Offline OldMan

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #9 on: 18/05/2005 04:51:03 »
I'm certainly not saying it doesn't exist or any such thing, was just voicing something that briefly crossed my mind.

What Julia said about hallucinations as mine was one of those dreams where I was convinced it was real. In it I was in the exact position I was in my bed when I woke, the only difference was there wasn't some weird evil looking guy who had just climbed through my window standing over me. Even when I did wake I found it somewhat difficult to move.

My question now is do you think I just had a dream in which I couldn't speak or move that scared the hell out of me or do you think I experienced SP?
Where does hallucination start and dream end?

Tim
 

Offline sp1982

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #10 on: 18/05/2005 09:14:06 »
I'm glad I found this thread. All my life I thought only I suffered from this "thing" which is the most frightening experience ever

I had sleep paralisys very often as child - maybe weekly. in time the episodes have diminished in number but I was still experiencing it once every 6 months as a teenager

I'm 26 now and haven't had one for a long time - maybe 2 or 3 years

In all these occurences an evil presence was around me - and it was always a woman though I can't describe her figure. The feeling can be described as being burried alive and there was nothing I could do. couldn't move, couldn't speak and the most interesting thing was that I was awake - could see the room and the evil presence around me. I believe there is nothing more frightening in this world than sleep paralysis

as a teenager, even though I realized there are no ghosts, UFOs, poltergeist, etc I was still frightened while paralised as that presence was so real in the room and it wasn't a dream although it feels like one

in time I developed an escape method and become experienced in doing this: maybe someone who still suffers from sleep paralisys can apply it as well:

while paralysed try to contract and expand your butt muscles very fast - you will then be able to move other muscles untill you will be in control of your whole body and be able to "wake up"

I guess we all tried hard to escape these episodes but lately I wanted just to stay there in that state and see what happens without trying to escape........ it never happened again though...still waiting :)

Arun
 

Offline DrN

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #11 on: 18/05/2005 11:19:02 »
I've heard of astral projection, which sounds all very supernatural, but is supposed to be projection of your mind outside your body. I guess that would mean you wouldn't be able to move your real body if your mind was kind of outside of it? i can see it wouldn't be a good thing if your body could move independently of your mind in this case, as it might not be there when you decided to go back 'home'!!
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #12 on: 18/05/2005 12:31:13 »
Arun - I think you clenching your butt muscles worked the same way as me touching my leg. Once I'd managed to do it, all my other muscles began working too.
I also tried to stay in a couple of times to see what would happen but the buzzing in my head was so painful I had to free myself from it.
On the subject of dreams, I woke up 1 morning, got washed dressed, had breakfast & left for work only to... wake up! I'd dreamed that I'd woken up & done all those things. That was really freaky
 

Offline julia2406

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #13 on: 18/05/2005 16:24:44 »
Tim, that is a question that has perplexed me and is the focus of a few experiments in my PhD. Although I term the accompanying hallucinations 'hallucinations' I wonder whether they are truly that or more related to dream-like mentation or some other sort of mental imagery. I am conducted an experiment that tests the cognitive skill of reality  monitoring (this is the process by which we differentiate memories of events that happened in reality and memories of events that happened in our internal mind such as imaginings, dreams, etc.) and I am comparing the performance on this task between people who have experienced SP and people who haven't.

People who experience hallucinations (such as those with psychotic illnesses) typically perform less well on these tasks than people who do not hallucinate. If this is the case for people who experience SP then I think it will suggest that these are hallucinations rather than dreams.

There certainly doesn't have to be a 'presence' element to SP so I reckon what you experienced Tim sounds like SP - now go and fill in my questionnaire :)

This also ties in with what I wanted to reply to what Fishytails wrote. A researcher in Canada (Al Cheyne) suggests that there are 3 typical types of hallucinatory experience that accompany SP and one of these certainly is the sense of a presence, fear, etc., the other is pressure on the chest, breathing difficulites, etc. (Old Hag phenomenon - thanks Doctorbeaver) and finally unusual body experiences such as floating, turning, flying, etc. All of these can be accompanied by visual and auditory hallucinations and I think that OBEs are often this latter type of SP experience (I'm sure lots of people who believe in the paranormal would disagree with me though).

The questionnaire that is on my website is an extension of some work that my supervisor had already done - he thinks there might be a fourth type of hallucinatory experience that often accompanies SP but he didn't gather enough data to be confident in his factor analysis. I'm doing this now and hope to confirm his fourth factor and will then build a new SP questionnaire because I don't like his!

This post is a really long post - sorry.
 

Offline OldMan

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #14 on: 19/05/2005 03:55:04 »
Done! All filled out and hope it helps. Finding this all rather interesting.

Tim
 

Offline Corey Walker

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #15 on: 01/06/2005 07:34:36 »
I'm 35, and I still experience SP, although not like I did around age 9- recurring weekly and even nightly, very intense, identical experiences including paralysis, abstract imagery, pain, fear, multiple malevolent, non-human presences, and spinning so fast I could hardly take it.

Due to the intensity, collection and commonality of experiences, I theorize that SP explains the alien abduction experience.

Dig deep,
CW
 

Offline chimera

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #16 on: 01/06/2005 09:39:53 »
I remember reading somewhere that it's a natural phenomenon that prevents you from hurting yourself (and possibly others) in your sleep, a self-induced temporary paralysis to prevent you from really 'acting it out' during very vivid dreaming. If you suddenly wake up, you'll find it takes some time for this to pass, and feelings of anxiety can result,  far worse than the original problem, since people think they are REALLY paralysed etc. etc. which can be like a claustrophobic attack, I take it.

I'll see if I can dig up that paper.
« Last Edit: 01/06/2005 09:41:28 by chimera »
 

Offline IAmAI

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #17 on: 01/06/2005 14:18:26 »
I think I've possibly had SP on a very few occasions (2-3 times, possibly). I recall one dream where, completely unexpected and sudden, it felt like I had been hit very hard on the back of the head - as if someone had hit me with a baseball bat. At that point I couldn't see and it felt like I was floating or flying, as if from the impact (I think that was the thought in my mind). However, the flying feeling was exagerated, as if I was flying in slow motion, but I couldn't tell what was actually happening as I couldn't see. After which I recall being in my bed, but couldn't move for a period. How long for, I can't remember. It's possible that I dreamt being paralyses, considering I don't recall being fully awake at that point.

On another occasion, a strange dream, relating to what you have said, although I cannot remember if it was followed by SP. I remember becoming angry with a good friend, for a reason I can't recall. I started walking backwards and stumbled against something and fell backwards. Suddenly it felt like I was being attacked by a very fast and swift creature, as if I had fallen on it and angered it. I think I awoke at that point, but I cannot recall what followed.
 

Offline muhammet caner

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #18 on: 03/06/2005 06:42:31 »
i have these experiences since i was 7 or eight. Now i am 31.yesterday i had the worst one. I felt that somebody got my shoulder and shook it to wake me up. I woke up into what you call SP. it was terrible. the worst part of this thing is going back to sleep. If you go back to sleep you find yourself in the right middle of it.
   Once I tried to stay in it and see what happens. It gets worse and worse. No one can stand it. It was so horrible that I never tried it again.
  I hope somebody find a cure for it
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #19 on: 03/06/2005 13:14:13 »
quote:
It gets worse and worse. No one can stand it

Muhammet - that point has been raised by a couple of us previously & it seems to be quite common. It's not like a dream where once you've woken you don't go back into the same dream when you resume sleeping (or, at least, rarely do you). I always found that I had to get out of bed & do something - maybe have a cup of tea - before going back to sleep. Whatever it is that causes it doesn't go away quickly when you wake. If it's a chemical it's certainly a much longer-acting 1 than most that our brain produces.
 

Offline memasa

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #20 on: 05/06/2005 22:04:04 »
quote:
"[...]floating, turning, flying, etc."


If I'm on the borderline of sleep and being awake, and something causes me to become fully awake, I always experience a fall back into my body.

The sense of falling is very REAL yet supernatural!
« Last Edit: 10/06/2005 17:26:44 by memasa »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #21 on: 05/06/2005 22:08:19 »
memasa - that's not the same thing
 

Offline memasa

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #22 on: 05/06/2005 22:45:00 »
I would have wanted to fill in the form, but I haven't had SP ever. :( On the other hand I guess I'm lucky, I've heard from my friends how horrifying it can be.

But I have had numerous "paranormal" experiences while in a dream state.

My scariest dream:

I was in a burning house. The house belonged to my mother's friend who was also the main character of my dream. I wasn't physically present in the dream but inside her mind and body, looking through her eyes. There was no escape, the house was already in full blaze! I heard her voice as she thought: "This is the end. I can't go anywhere." She died. End of dream.

Back in reality: and now the scary part starts...

Months went by and Christmas came. My mother's friend was alone in her big big house. It was Boxing Day. She lit a candle or candles and fell asleep. A fire started. It is not known if she tried to escape or not, but sadly she died -- for real.

The dream had come true! [:0]

----
Addendum: you must think I'm crazy. [?]
« Last Edit: 10/06/2005 17:38:38 by memasa »
 

Offline memasa

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #23 on: 05/06/2005 22:56:26 »
DoctorBeaver: No, it's not the same. My comment was more related to the astral projection brought up by fishytails.

And the my scariest dream is related to the questions in Julia's form.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2005 17:39:49 by memasa »
 

Offline judyt

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #24 on: 07/06/2005 00:30:55 »
Glad I found this site.  I have suffered from SP as long as I can remember and didn't really talk about it because it was too crazy to explain.  I was at a party this weekend and ran into someone who has SP and told me to google sleep paralysis.  It has been great to see I am not alone.  I have had two episodes this week and even though I now see that there is a scientific reason for it, it still does not take away the intense fear!!!  I get so fearful when I wake up from it, that I cannot even get up to go to the bathroom. I am now 35 and with SP comes such irrational fears like someone is in the closet or bathroom.  I hope to learn more from others experiences.

 

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Re: Sleep paralysis research
« Reply #24 on: 07/06/2005 00:30:55 »

 

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