Why watching The Traitors before bed could help you to fall asleep FASTER

by Sophie Freeman for MailOnline 

Thoughts of things that go ‘bump in the night’ can often cause problems for children at bedtime. 

Now researchers have found that adults, too, can have sleep issues linked to a belief in the paranormal. 

Psychologists studied nearly 9,000 people and found those who believed in any type of paranormal phenomena, such as ghosts or mediumship, reported taking longer to fall asleep, and sleeping for less time. 

As well as poorer overall sleep, those who specifically thought that near-death experiences were evidence for life after death were also more likely to have experienced sleep paralysis, the team from Goldsmiths University of London found. 

Sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move that typically occurs when waking up, and some people who experience it may perceive it as evidence for the paranormal, the researchers said. 

Professor Chris French, one of the authors of the study, which was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Sleep Research, said: ‘The correlation between the belief that near-death experiences provide evidence in support of life after death and the experience of sleep paralysis rests upon the belief that consciousness or, if you prefer, “the soul” can become separated from the physical body. 

‘Sleep paralysis, in common with near-death experiences, sometimes involves out-of-body experiences. 

‘Anyone who has had an out-of-body experience may therefore be more inclined to believe in a soul that perhaps may survive bodily. 

‘Also, if an individual hallucinates what they perceive to be spiritual beings, such as ghosts or demons, during an episode of sleep paralysis, this may increase their level of belief in spirits in general, including their belief in a personal immortal soul.’ 

Study participants who believed that aliens had visited Earth or interacted with humans were also more likely to have experienced sleep paralysis, as well as a sleep disorder called exploding head syndrome (EHS). 

EHS is characterized by loud noises or a perception of a large bang in one’s head when transitioning into or out of sleep, but is not dangerous. 

Lead author of the study, Betul Rauf, said people may perceive EHS as ‘proof’ of aliens. ‘EHS typically involves a bang or perception of an explosion in the transitions to or from sleep, but also includes visual elements e.g. flashes of light in around a third of cases. 

‘These can be quite dramatic for sufferers. 

‘Our findings suggest that the belief in aliens may be associated with sleep disturbances that produce sounds or images i.e. sleep paralysis and EHS. 

‘It is possible that these strange hallucinations associated with sleep could be interpreted as evidence for the existence of aliens or other supernatural beings. 

‘They may even be perceived as “proof” of direct contact with these beings.’ 

For the research, which was conducted with the help of BBC Science Focus magazine, participants were asked six questions about what they believed about the paranormal. 

They had to rate, on a scale, their beliefs, ranging from ‘definitely not’ to ‘definitely yes’. 

The questions were: ‘Do you believe that you have a soul that will live on after you die?’, ’Do you believe in the existence of ghosts?’, ’Do you believe that some people can communicate with the dead?’, ’Do you believe that near death experiences are evidence for life after death?’, ‘Do you believe in the existence of demons?’ and ‘Do you believe that aliens have visited earth or have interacted with humans?’ 

They were also asked a series of questions about their sleep, e.g. whether they had had difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early in the past two weeks. 

The researchers found that generally, across all of the paranormal beliefs, the greater the belief, the worse their sleep was. 

However, while a greater belief that the soul lives on after death was linked to an increased likelihood of experiencing insomnia, those who reported the absolute strongest beliefs here reported fewer insomnia symptoms. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk