Sleep Paralysis


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                Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to a loud crashing sound. You open your eyes and attempt to sit up to investigate where the sound came from, only to discover that your body won't respond. You remain motionless, lying flat in bed. Paralyzed.

                According to Brian Sharpless, a Penn State clinical assistant professor of psychology, events similar to those I have just described are experienced by more than 28% of all college students. The condition is simply referred to as "sleep paralysis". When sleep paralysis occurs a person is awake, but they feel like they are still in a dream. Many people who suffer from sleep paralysis have the added bonus of hallucinations occurring at the same time. According to the article I read, the hallucinations may include a bedroom intruder or the feeling that one's body is levitating. After reviewing the reader comments at the bottom of the article, some people who said they experienced sleep paralysis claimed to have seen UFO's or were in the presence of some unwelcome being.

Sharpless used data from 35 separate psychologist studies, documenting the sleep patterns of more than 36,500 people, to extract his statistics. On top of the 28% of college students who have experienced sleep paralysis, 32% of psychiatric patients in the study suffered the same disorder at least once.  The really odd part of the study is that only 8% of people who are labeled as part of the general population (not a student or a patient) encountered the symptoms of sleep paralysis. The conductors of the study, including Sharpless, believe that college students have a higher rate of sleep paralysis because they are more prone to having their sleep disrupted. The researchers also believe that folks who work in the airline industry and workers who have strange sleep patterns due to inconsistent shifts are also more susceptible to sleep paralysis.

Personally, I can say that I have never experienced an episode of sleep paralysis. According to the statistics presented by our own PSU faculty Brian Sharpless, a few people in the SC 200 class definitely should have. It seems like it would be an extremely uncomfortable event, so if you would be so kind as to enlighten me by commenting about it I'd be thrilled.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21571556

2 Comments

Wow Matthew, this is quite interesting and a little despairing to know a condition like sleep paralysis is out there. I personally never knew of its existence until now. Gratefully, I have never been a victim of sleep paralysis.

I believe the correlation of having an abnormal sleep schedule, such as many college students and pilots of airplanes have due to their constantly changing schedules, strongly affects the likelihood of sleep paralysis. However, as we learned from Professor Andrew's class, correlation doesn't equal causation.

On the subject of sleep disorders I researched the topic of sleep apnea, another sleep agitation that I was unfamiliar with. Sleep apnea is a chronic medical condition where the affected person repeatedly stops breathing during sleep. These episodes last 10 seconds or more and cause oxygen levels in the blood to drop. It can be caused by obstruction of the upper airway, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea, or by a failure of the brain to initiate a breath, called central sleep apnea. A study done by the John Hopkins University researched that sleep apnea raises the risk of death for middle-aged and elderly people by as much as 46 percent in the most severe cases, and 17 percent in moderate cases. “Researchers reviewed the records of 112 sleep study participants who had subsequently died suddenly from cardiac causes. The researchers compared the rates of sudden death during various times of day from cardiac causes among people with sleep apnea with rates of sudden death among people without sleep apnea, rates in the general population, and expectations according to chance.”

The conclusion to the study resulted in a higher increase in death of those that experienced sleep apnea compared to the other group of patients with no sign of sleep apnea.

Below is an article from The New England Journal of Medicine discussing the procedure and the results of the experiment!
Sleep Apnea

Matthew, you are already doing much better with blogging so far in this final marking period. A few things to remember and a few improvements if you are looking to receive a higher mark in this last blog period:
1) Make sure you include media in all of your posts. You had a nice video in your soccer post but failed to add videos and/or pictures in your last two posts. These will attract individuals to read your posts and will add depth.
2) You shared a little personal experience in this post. Keep doing this. This too will add depth to your post and will help it not be so superficial.
3) Keep challenging the articles or source if you do not agree (like you did in the Halloween one).
4) Do more than summarize- challenge it (#3), share personal experience relating to the matter (#2), pose questions to start a discussion. Try to point it in the direction of starting a discussion!
5) Frequency- Post MORE THAN 1 blog post a week and more than 3 comments a week. (At least, if you want to work towards an A).

Keep up the good work!

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