Terror and bliss? Commonalities and distinctions between sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming, and their associations with waking life experiences

Article English OPEN
Denis, D.L. ; Poerio, G.L. (2016)
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Journal: Journal of Sleep Research, volume 26, issue 1, pages 38-47 (issn: 0962-1105, eissn: 1365-2869)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1111/jsr.12441, pmc: PMC5245115
  • Subject: REM dissociation | anomalous sleep experiences | parasomnia | Sleep Paralysis, Lucid Dreaming and Waking Life | wake–sleep continuum
    mesheuropmc: humanities | psychological phenomena and processes

Summary Sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming are both dissociated experiences related to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Anecdotal evidence suggests that episodes of sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming are related but different experiences. In this study we test this claim systematically for the first time in an online survey with 1928 participants (age range: 18–82 years; 53% female). Confirming anecdotal evidence, sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming frequency were related positively and this association was most apparent between lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis episodes featuring vestibular‐motor hallucinations. Dissociative experiences were the only common (positive) predictor of both sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming. Both experiences showed different associations with other key variables of interest: sleep paralysis was predicted by sleep quality, anxiety and life stress, whereas lucid dreaming was predicted by a positive constructive daydreaming style and vividness of sensory imagery. Overall, results suggest that dissociative experiences during wakefulness are reflected in dissociative experiences during REM sleep; while sleep paralysis is related primarily to issues of sleep quality and wellbeing, lucid dreaming may reflect a continuation of greater imaginative capacity and positive imagery in waking states.
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