Sleep Paralysis in Adolescents

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Arcega,Cate A. Asst. Prof. Carinez P. dela Cruz PS1A- Psychology Psych 101- General Psychology Reflection Paper on the Sleep paralysis in adolescents: The ‘a dead body climbed on top of me’ phenomenon in Mexico The authors for this scholarly article, “Sleep paralysis in adolescents: The ‘a dead body climbed on top of me’ phenomenon in Mexico.” are Alejandro Jimenez-Genchi, Victor M. Avila-Rodriguez, Frida Sanchez, Blanca E. Vargas Terrez, and Alejandro Nenclares-Portocarrero. The article is from the Journal of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, volume 63, pages 546-549 and was available online last 2009. Sleep paralysis (SP) is characterized by the incapability to move for a short period of time at the early stages of sleep. Some cultures use colloquial expressions to describe the SP experience. In Mexico, Mexicans uses the expression ‘a dead body climbed on top of me’ to depict a phenomenon that seems to be equivalent to SP. The aim of this study is to identify the rate and characteristics of SP in adolescents using a folk expression. Since the phenomenon is most often seen in adolescence, the researchers invited 322 adolescents from different high schools in Mexico City to participate. They completed an Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and an SP questionnaire which asks if they already heard about the phenomenon and have experienced it. With all the gathered data, the researchers were shocked to find out that 92.5% of the participants heard about the phenomenon while 27.6% of them had experienced it. 61% had experienced 2 or more episodes during their lifetime. The difference and similarities of this colloquial expression and sleep paralysis is emphasized in the discussion part. Folk descriptions are said to capture motor and hallucinatory nature of SP while clinical descriptions capture only the motor features. If only essential features of SP which is the inability to move or speak were considered, researchers would obtain a lower prevalence rate in the whole sample. Surprisingly, rates in this study are consistent to the rate of other studies which involves SP expressed using a colloquial expression like in China and Japan. There are certain factors that limit the credibility of this study. 1

First, data were obtained from erratic sample of adolescents which belongs to a population that uses a colloquial expression in referring to SP. Second, data were based from self-reported questionnaires completed by the adolescents which are consisting of questions that sometimes are misinterpreted. Discrepancies in this study are unavoidable because of the method used by the researchers. It leads to a conclusion that the SP is frequently experienced by adolescents which is sometimes accompanied by hallucinations. Of all the sleep disorders known to man, sleep paralysis is the least understood (Hurd, 2010). Sleep Paralysis is a normal, natural bodily function that causes our physical bodies to be paralyzed during sleep (Peterson, 2005). It is misinterpreted as an abnormal or scary experience because of the presence of its essential feature characterized by the inability to move or speak. Sleep paralysis (SP) is a phenomenon where the muscles are paralyzed which causes the body unable to move. It occurs during the early stages of REM sleep or even upon awakening. The phenomenon only lasts for a minute or two but even though it’s only lasting for a short period of time and is said to be normal, experiencing SP might be really frightening. The main reason why we experience sleep paralysis is that it prevents us to act out our dreams or hurt ourselves while dreaming by paralyzing the muscles. It is when our minds are fully-awake and conscious to the surroundings but your body is paralyzed. SP usually happens when our brains responds faster than our body. What makes SP more terrifying...
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