The Skeptic’s Lead Editor, Chris French, has co-authored a paper on sleep paralysis with Julia Santomauro, published in Issue 22 (August 2009) of The Psychologist. The article has also gained attention internationally from Wired, Mind Hacks, Medindia and ekschi.
If you’ve never heard of sleep paralysis you’re lucky, though “it appears that up to 50 per cent of the population will experience sleep paralysis in one form or another at least once in their lifetime, and some people experience it far more often than that”.
It’s easy to understand why reports of alien abductions are often associated with the phenomenon as “Attacks often involve feelings of intense fear, terror, bliss, joy, anger, and feelings of dying or imminent death. False awakenings are also commonly reported. The individual believes that they have awoken and that the episode is over, only to discover that they are still in fact asleep.”
“In addition, the individual might experience hallucinations. In a sample of 254 college students who had experienced sleep paralysis at least once (Cheyne et al., 1999), 75 per cent had concurrently experienced body paralysis and hallucinations.”
The full article and an interesting list of references are available from The Psychologist through the link above but if you have suffered from sleep paralysis or similar symptoms yourself, the research team would very much like to hear your experiences.