Apr 14 2016 Posted: 09:13 IST

Online study at NUI Galway seeks participants throughout Ireland, to understand how and why people experience sleep difficulties like sleep paralysis

The School of Psychology at NUI Galway is starting a study on the number of people affected by sleep paralysis and unusual sleep experiences. The researchers are seeking over 1,000 participants throughout Ireland to take part in the online study.

This study is interested in looking at how people’s emotions and lifestyles relate to their sleep. It is also interested in understanding how and why people experience sleep difficulties like sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis can happen when we are falling asleep or waking up and is often viewed as a distressing experience.

Previous studies at NUI Galway have found that about a quarter of its students have reported experiences of sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis involves a person experiencing the inability to move when they are just falling asleep or when waking up from sleep.

People who experience sleep paralysis often report seeing a shadow of a man or an old woman, or a sense of someone being present in their room. Sometimes the figure sits on their chest, or just simply moves towards them. Other people report their bed clothes being moved or their body being touched. 

In some cases, the person reports that they feel as if they are looking down on themselves whilst being unable to scream or move. Most reported the experience as very frightening, but some will have pleasant recollections, such as a dead relative coming to caress their face or tuck-them-in. One student reported that she recalled the Easter Bunny jumping up on her bed!

The study is being carried out by Michelle Tomas, a Doctoral student on the clinical psychology training programme at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway and her supervisor Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the clinical programme.

Dr Jonathan Egan from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “We are interested in how general well-being, sleep quality, stress and mood are related to episodes of sleep paralysis. No study has addressed a large non-student population in Ireland before and we hope to get over a thousand people to participate in the research.”

To participate in the study visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/sleepstudynuigalway

ENDS

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