n South African Journal of Psychiatry - Sleep paralysis and psychopathology

Volume 15, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1608-9685
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6786



Sleep paralysis in the absence of narcolepsy is common. Individuals experience episodes of profound muscular paralysis on waking from sleep in the morning or during the night. These episodes are disturbing, especially because they often involve feeling unable to breathe deeply or voluntarily. Previous studies have suggested an association between isolated sleep paralysis (ISP) and adverse psychosocial situations. This study examines an association between ISP and anxiety in orthopaedic patients suffering from physical injuries, patients with multiple somatic complaints (suffering from psychological disorders), and healthy controls.

Healthy individuals, orthopaedic patients and patients with multiple somatic complaints were asked to fill out a survey that determined the 3-month prevalence of ISP. Anxiety was scored on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS).
ISP was reported by 28% of the healthy subjects, 44% of the orthopaedic patients and 56% of the patients with multiple somatic complaints. The degree of anxiety among the orthopaedic patients was significantly higher than that in the healthy subjects and significantly lower than that reported by the patients with multiple somatic complaints.
This study suggests that although ISP occurs in healthy individuals, it is more common in association with

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