A study shows sleep paralysis is linked to feeling depressed in young athletic adults, but it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Lying in bed unable to move is the hallmark of sleep paralysis, and it scares the daylights out of many people.
The study found that among student athletes who reported sleep paralysis, even occasional occurrences, their depression score was higher than in those who reported no paralysis.
Amount of sleep and quality of sleep were factored into the analysis to rule out the effect of these variables.
How the Study Was Done
• 189 NCAA Division-I athletes were recruited and asked how often they experienced sleep paralysis and associated hallucinations.
• They were asked about sleep duration and quality.
• Also adjusted for was gender and age.
• Partipants were also assessed for self-reported depression and given a depression score.
“These sleep symptoms are usually harmless on their own, but they can be a sign of more serious sleep problems,” notes the lead author Serena Liu, a student research assistant in the Sleep and Health Research Program, in the report.
“The fact that they are so common among student athletes suggests that this is a group with some significant sleep problems that should be evaluated and dealt with.”
When I was living in a college dormitory for four years, I had sleep paralysis on a frequent basis.
Though I did not play on any college sports teams, I was very active in weightlifting and the volleyball club.
Though the results of the study may seem bleak to any young adult reading this, I’d like to point out that nothing ever came of all my episodes of sleep paralysis.
In fact, I relished every episode, having always known (intuitively) that they were related to the dream state (rapid eye movement or REM) of slumber.
If you approach sleep paralysis as the really cool, rad and dynamic phenomenon that it is, you’ll find it easier to embrace it rather than be afraid of it.
Whenever it happened, I knew it would run its course. The second I was able to move, I’d willfully pop back into another episode. I’d do this on and off several times for kicks.
I am unable to describe how to pop back into it, but it must be done immediately after you discover you can move.
If you wait a second too long, you will not be able to pop back into the sleep paralysis.
The window of opportunity for willfully triggering a recurrence of the paralysis is only a few seconds.
The study was also conducted by senior author Michael Grandner, PhD, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.