ASP vs SUNDS and SIDS
SP = Sleep Paralysis, the paralysis normal for REM sleep
ASP = Awareness during Sleep Paralysis
SUNDS = Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome
SIDS = Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
What is the basis for all this confusion?
Many people, including some doctors, scientists and medical researchers, use the phrase "sleep paralysis" to mean both SP and ASP as defined above. The persistence of this ambiguity is most unfortunate because of the confusion it generates.
When a researchers hypothesize that "sleep paralysis" causes SUNDS, are they suggesting that the mechanism that normally paralyzes the body during REM sleep somehow goes haywire, perhaps by paralyzing the heart or lungs, and causes death?
Or, are the researchers suggesting that the extreme terror often reported by those who have experienced Awareness during Sleep Paralysis has literally scared someone to death?
Why Does this Matter?
For one thing, the population at risk would be different. If the former explanation is true everyone is at risk, since everyone has Sleep Paralysis. If the latter explanation is true only the 15% of the general population that experiences Awareness during Sleep Paralysis would be at risk.
Moreover, it is quite possible that researchers are looking for the former type of explanation while popular beliefs and superstitions are based on the latter type of explanation.
What is the evidence that either SP or ASP are related to either SUNDS or SIDS?
What little evidence is available suggests that there is no connection. Consider these points:
ASP occurs all over the world, among all racial/ethnic groups. In contrast, SUNDS appears to be ethnically linked to certain Asian ethnic groups: Cambodian, Thai and Japanese, for example.
ASP occurs in both sexes and with about the same frequency in both sexes. In contrast, SUNDS is almost exclusively a male phenomenon.
The median age of first Awareness during Sleep Paralysis is about 14 and ASP can occur at any age thereafter. SUNDS tends to occur to young males in their late 20's thru their early 40's.
While ASP may occur with the body in any posture, it is much more likely to occur while the sleeping body is on its back. Doctors recommend that babies sleep on their backs ... to prevent SIDS.