Sleep Paralysis is More Common Than You Think

In a 2011 study entitled “Lifetime Prevalence Rates of Sleep Paralysis: A Systematic Review,” Brian A. Sharpless and Jacques P. Barber reviewed 35 studies that reported lifetime sleep paralysis rates and described both the assessment procedures and sample utilized. These studies were selected by utilizing keyword term searches for “sleep paralysis”, “isolated sleep paralysis”, or “parasomnia not otherwise specified” gleaned from MEDLINE (1950-present) and PsychINFO (1872-present), and comprised an aggregated total of 36,533 individuals.

One fifth reported at least one episode of sleep paralysis. On average 7.6% of the general population experiences sleep paralysis, compared to 28.3% of students and 31.9% of psychiatric patients. Of the psychiatric patients with panic disorder, 34.6% reported lifetime sleep paralysis.

This has implications for people with alleged alien abduction experiences that were recalled through psychiatric hypnosis. It seems quite probable that the hypnosis is not only creating false memories but also psychosomatic conditions like sleep paralysis to reinforce the fantasy.

Point in fact, the deeply flawed 1992 Roper poll that cites nearly 4 million Americans as being abductees was based on 2% of the population. A 2002 followup to that poll cited a decrease in potential abductees to 1.4% or 2.5 million Americans. So even if the Roper poll numbers were correct, the fact that 7.6% of the population experiences sleep paralysis could easily account for the inflated number of alleged abductees.

On a side note, I would love to see the numbers on how many of these psychiatric patients experiencing sleep paralysis were also claiming to experience alien abductions.

For those who suppose that alleged alien abduction experiences are some sort of generational curse, we humbly submit that, according to a New York Times article, “Sleep paralysis sometimes runs in families and appears to have a genetic component.”

Biblical creationists have long held that while God originally made the heavens and the earth “very good,” the effects of the Fall and the Flood have since reshaped it. Regarding biology, modern creationism notes that genetic entropy began at the Fall. Genetic flaws were exacerbated by the bottleneck effect of the Flood, which cut off much potential genetic variations. Today, we see an increase in genetic disorders, which will likely continue to compound unless God or science intervenes (and science can only do so much).

If we take the data all together, it It appears that in some cases, corrupted genes may cause families to experience sleep paralysis, leading so-called deliverance ministry experts left over from the Satanic Panic to conclude a more spiritual sort of generational curse.

Of course, we once blamed all illnesses on demons instead of microbes, genetics and allergens. Maybe it’s time we stopped giving the Devil and little green men more than their due.



src: Sleep Med Rev. 2011 Oct; 15(5): 311–315. Published online 2011 May 14. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.01.007

PMCID: PMC3156892

NIHMSID: NIHMS271539

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