Sleep paralysis (SP) is an interculturally occurring phenomenon which has a psychophysiological and neurophysiological basis, including various and many culture-dependent interpretations. Despite its relatively high prevalence—the prevalence rate is generally estimated at about 8% but varies considerably depending on nationality and subgroup (sample type), and remains uncertain therefore—this phenomenon which is usually assigned to sleep disturbances (parasomnias) receives little attention in sleep medicine. Typical characteristics of SP are: temporary muscle atonia in conjunction with conscious awareness, the feeling of pressure on the chest, and the experience of visual or auditory hallucinations which are often accompanied by feelings of suffocation and extreme fear. Typically, SP is experienced during sleep onset (hypnogogic) or sleep offset (hypnopompic). It can be an accompanying symptom of pathological disorders like narcolepsy but also occur in an isolated form. Especially the latter, the isolated SP, deserves the particular interest of anomalistics because its experience has been reflected in many myths but also in cultural products (visual art, literature).The recently published book Sleep Paralysis by clinical psychologist Brian A. Sharpless and physician Karl Doghramji gives a concise overview of the current state of research from a (neuro) psychological and medical perspective which leaves little to be desired. It is remarkable that humanistic and cultural aspects also are considered so that we are encountering a “magnificant integration of humanistic and scientific medicine,” as Charles F. Reynolds aptly put it in his Foreword (p. xi).
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