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Metaphysics & Psychology

New study associates lack of sleep with stronger paranormal beliefs

By T.K. Randall
January 21, 2023 · Comment icon 16 comments

An 18th-Century depiction of sleep paralysis. Image Credit: Henry Fuseli
Scientists have conducted a new study into the link between lack of sleep and a belief in aliens, ghosts and demons.
The time we spend each night in our beds has long been associated with the paranormal - from sleep paralysis and 'things that go bump in the night' to alien abductions - many of the phenomena we associate with the paranormal tend to be reported after hours.

Now researchers have taken this connection one step further by conducting a new study to determine whether or not a lack of sleep might actually be associated with a greater overall belief in paranormal phenomena.

The study involved surveying 8,853 people about their sleeping habits and personal beliefs.

What the researchers found was that participants were a lot more likely to believe in ghosts, demons and aliens if they got fewer hours of sleep or experienced difficulty drifting off to sleep at night.
Around two-thirds of those who experienced sleep paralysis or the related 'exploding head syndrome' believed that aliens were already visiting Earth (compared to a mere 3.4% of the total sample).

This same cohort also tended to have a stronger belief in life after death.

"As [sleep paralysis] involves different types of hallucinations, including auditory and visual, and [exploding head syndrome] typically involves a bang, our findings suggest that the belief in aliens may be associated with sleep disturbances that produce sounds or images," the study authors wrote.

"One explanation for these associations is therefore that someone experiencing sounds or images associated with sleep could interpret this as evidence that aliens or other supernatural beings exist."

Source: IFL Science | Comments (16)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Bed of chaos 10 months ago
I think many sleep disorders go unreported. I'd bet sleep paralysis does. Someone may try otc medication instead of going to MD. Also some medications could make matters worse. I was prescribed one (brand name begins with A) that felt like LSD.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Occupational Hubris 10 months ago
I have always had endless trouble sleeping. Getting to sleep. Staying asleep. I suffer from rampant insomnia a handful of times a year. I regularly get no more that 5 hours of sleep a night, if i'm lucky. I have zero belief in the paranormal. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by openozy 10 months ago
I've driven long distances out bush and when very tired I've hallucinated, seeing green kangaroos and emus. This has nothing in common with paranormal experiences which are not hallucinations.
Comment icon #10 Posted by trevor borocz johnson 10 months ago
Staying up late is a trigger that a schizoid must be careful to avoid. here are 12 triggers to avoid: 1.Fan or spaceheater, 2.ongoing story, 3.rejuvination with schizoid art and music, window, 5.believing telepathy and all eyes are on your thoughts, 6.staying up late, 7.defending yourself against cruelty, 8.invention fear, 9.fear in the paint on the wall (pareidolia), 10.wanting to be center of attention, 11.being bullied 12.people in the other room talking/TV.
Comment icon #11 Posted by MissJatti 9 months ago
At one point in my life I was lacking sleep, at the same time I had a interest in Aliens, Paranormals, and Demons. But that was it.. an interest, nothing ever happened and I dont believe in them.
Comment icon #12 Posted by XenoFish 9 months ago
The lack of sleep thing probably has more to do with the in-between states of consciousness. Hypnagogic and hypnopomopic, except you can't fall asleep. 
Comment icon #13 Posted by Alchopwn 9 months ago
This is the part when the Prophet Rael descends and says "You may not believe in Aliens, Paranormals and Demons Miss Jatti, but they never stopped believing in you,"  Then the music goes soppy and the audience sighs at how sweet the sentimentality is.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Crabby Kitten 9 months ago
It isn't lack of sleep, but yes that causes some. It's also alcohol and drugs. Not to mention mental illness, stress, anxiety, even pain. I'm not saying all paranormal activity is that. While watching the same live ghost hunting show on tv (Most Haunted) people sent in messages saying they could see headless horsemen, shadow figures, monks, ect but I couldn't see it. I thought something was wrong with me for not seeing all these eerie figures that everyone else was seeing. 
Comment icon #15 Posted by trevor borocz johnson 9 months ago
Your circadian clock, most likely the vibrations of your balance system, is thrown off staying up late. The balance system can get dizzy and more sensitive to vibrations from a medium like a fan. This could increase the chances of schizophrenic attacks for those staying up late. If your up late because time has flown by having fun, or if your up because you can't fall asleep too often both can trip you down a rabbit hole.
Comment icon #16 Posted by DanL 8 months ago
I think that some people are just naturally night people. Unfortunately they are forced to live in a world full of day time bigots. My Dad was that way. I worked at night for decades. I worked until midnight and then got off. He thought that I should go to bed as soon as I got home and then get up with the roosters. When I moved out I just went into a night time lifestyle. Basically I live the same no matter what shift I was on. When I got off work I ate and then went out and did things. I go to bed about 7 hours before I have to get up and go to work. My best shift was the evening shift. I li... [More]

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