At least, I think so. I’d found an article about this a couple years ago and wrote up a post and today I’ve run across another article on this topic suggesting that sleep paralysis may have been behind the Salem Witch trials, and the feeling of aliens in a room (for those who’ve smartly given up believing in demons).
Brian A. Sharpless, clinical assistant professor of psychology and assistant director of the psychological clinic at Penn State, noted that some people who experience these episodes may regularly try to avoid going to sleep because of the unpleasant sensations they experience. But other people enjoy the sensations they feel during sleep paralysis.
“I realized that there were no real sleep paralysis prevalence rates available that were based on large and diverse samples,” Sharpless said. “So I combined data from my previous study with 34 other studies in order to determine how common it was in different groups.”
He looked at a total of 35 published studies from the past 50 years to find lifetime sleep paralysis rates. These studies surveyed a total of 36,533 people. Overall he found that about one-fifth of these people experienced an episode at least once. Frequency of sleep paralysis ranged from once in a lifetime to every night.
I can’t imagine what that would be like. I’m not in the percentage that experiences these episodes. It must be such a weird thing to go through so it’s no wonder people would historically attribute sinister reasons for it happening.
People experience three basic types of hallucinations during sleep paralysis — the presence of an intruder, pressure on the chest sometimes accompanied by physical and/or sexual assault experiences and levitation or out-of-body experiences.
Up to this point there has been little research conducted on how to alleviate sleep paralysis or whether or not people experience episodes throughout their lives.
“I want to better understand how sleep paralysis affects people, as opposed to simply knowing that they experience it,” said Sharpless. “I want to see how it impacts their lives.”
Depending on the prevalence of religious upbringing, it could be major impacts. I hope it occurs to him to check that angle. Growing up in a house where demon belief is commonplace and then having an episode in the night.. what other conclusion would get reached?
Which weirdly reminds me – I’ve seen websites advertising pajamas for children on a Christ’s militia theme, meant to protect their souls while they sleep. Isn’t that ghastly? That’s worse than the “If I die before I wake” prayer kids get taught, if you ask me. Note: the link to the site that sold the pj’s no longer exists. Good thing the pictures still do.