Indian Journal of Sleep Medicine

Register      Login

VOLUME 18 , ISSUE 1 ( January-March, 2023 ) > List of Articles


Sleep Paralysis: Prevalence in Indian College Students, Locus of Control and Susceptibility to Stress

Aliza Reshi

Keywords : Indian college students, Locus of control, Sleep paralysis, Stress proneness, Stress susceptibility

Citation Information : Reshi A. Sleep Paralysis: Prevalence in Indian College Students, Locus of Control and Susceptibility to Stress. Indian Sleep Med 2023; 18 (1):7-10.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10069-0111

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 15-07-2023

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2023; The Author(s).


Sleep paralysis (SP) is a sleep disorder characterized by a waking state and an inability to move (paralysis) occurring suddenly during sleep. Although the prevalence rate in the general population is usually around 7.6%, it is elevated in the college student population to around 28.3%. Furthermore, research has linked the experience of SP episodes to the cultural background and paranormal beliefs of an individual. Aims: The present study hence aims to determine: (1) the prevalence of SP in the Indian college population, (2) the relationship between the locus of control (LOC) of an individual with the frequency and intensity of SP episodes based on a hypothesized pathway of an individual experiencing less fear with an increased sense of control, and (3) the relationship between proneness to stress of an individual and the experience of SP episodes. The study also incorporates an exploratory analysis to investigate relationships between the proneness of stress, LOC and the experience of SP including intensity and frequency of the first episode, and of the latest episode. Materials and methods: An online survey method is used with voluntary response sampling. A total of 150 participants responded to the survey, measuring SP experience, intensity and frequency, LOC, and proneness to stress. Results: No significant differences were found in the intensity and frequency of SP episodes among the three LOCs (external chance, external powerful others, and internal), or in people with high proneness to stress and in people with low proneness to stress. A significant relationship was found between the external LOC and the presence of the intruder hallucination, and between the fear intensity of the first episode and the number of lifetime episodes. Conclusion: The experience of SP is not related to LOCs, but the frequency of episodes is related to the fear felt during the first episode. Clinical significance: Sleep paralysis interventions can target fear associated with SP to bring down the frequency of episodes.

  1. Sateia MJ. International classification of sleep disorders – third edition: highlights and modifications. Chest 2014;146(5):1387–1394. DOI: 10.1378/chest.14-0970.
  2. Cheyne JA, Rueffer SD, Newby-Clark IR. Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations during sleep paralysis: neurological and cultural construction of the night-mare. Consciousness and Cognition 1999;8(3):319–337. DOI: 10.1006/ccog.1999.0404.
  3. Cheyne JA. Sleep paralysis and the structure of waking-nightmare hallucinations. Dreaming 2006;16(1):1–10. DOI: 10.1023/A: 1025373412722.
  4. Sharpless BA, Barber JP. Lifetime prevalence rates of sleep paralysis: a systematic review. Sleep Med Rev. 2011;15(5):311–315. DOI: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.01.007.
  5. O’Hanlon J, Murphy M, Di Blasi Z. Experiences of sleep paralysis in a sample of Irish university students. Irish J Medi Sci 2011;180(4):917–919. DOI: 10.1007/s11845-011-0732-2.
  6. Sharpless BA, Doghramji K. Sleep paralysis: historical, psychological, and medical perspectives. Oxford University Press. New York, 2015. DOI: 10.1093/med/9780199313808.001.0001.
  7. Rotter JB. Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological monographs: Gen Appl 1966;80(1):1–28. DOI: 10.1037/h0092976.
  8. Jalal B, Hinton DE. Rates and characteristics of sleep paralysis in the general population of Denmark and Egypt. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 2013;37(3):534–548. DOI: 10.1007/s11013-013-9327-x.
  9. Spanos NP, McNulty SA, duBreuil SC. The frequency and correlates of sleep paralysis in a university sample. J Res Personality. 1995;29(3):285–305. DOI:10.1006/jrpe.1995.1017.
  10. Denis D, Poerio GL. Terror and bliss? Commonalities and dissociations between sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming, and their associations with waking life experiences. J Sleep Res 2016;25(2):222–230. DOI: 10.1111/jsr.12441.
  11. Figueredo AJ, Vásquez G, Brumbach BH, et al. Consilience and life history theory: from genes to brain to reproductive strategy. Dev Rev 2006;26(2):243–275. DOI: 10.1016/j.dr.2006.02.002.
  12. Rucas SL, Miller BD. The relationship between sleep and locus of control: A meta-analytic review. Personality and Individual Differences. 2013;55(8):917–922. DOI: 10.1016/j.smrv.2021.101514.
  13. Rauf B, Rotem Perach, Sánchez-Romera JF, et al. “The associations between paranormal beliefs and sleep variables.” Personality and Individual Differences. 2023;55(8):917–922. DOI: 10.1111/jsr.13810.
  14. Denis D, Poerio GL, Wangyal T, et al. The neuroscience of lucid dreaming. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2018;100:305–323. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.03.008.
PDF Share
PDF Share

© Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers (P) LTD.