High prevalence of isolated sleep paralysis: kanashibari phenomenon in Japan

Sleep. 1987 Jun;10(3):279-86. doi: 10.1093/sleep/10.3.279.


In Japan, a set of experiences called kanashibari is considered identical with isolated sleep paralysis. We investigated this phenomenon by means of a questionnaire administered to 635 college students (390 men and 245 women). Of all subjects, about 40% had experienced at least one episode of kanashibari [subjects of K(+)]. Therefore, isolated sleep paralysis is apparently a more common phenomenon than is usually appreciated. About half of the subjects of K(+) reported that they had been under "physical or psychological stress" or in a "disturbed sleep and wakefulness cycle" immediately before the episode. Many subjects of K(+) experienced the first episode in adolescence. In the distribution of age of first attack, the peak occurred at an earlier age in women subjects than in men subjects. These findings suggest that two factors influence the occurrence of the phenomenon. One is exogenous physical or psychological load and the other is endogenous biological development.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Paralysis / complications
  • Paralysis / epidemiology
  • Paralysis / psychology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology*