What is It?
Old Hag Syndrome is another term used for sleep paralysis. The hag is a creature from folklore who causes people to feel her presence, cause them to become immobilized and experience a great sense of terror. This sleep terror is experienced by people from all around the world. People report that she will sit on their chest causing pressure and difficulty in breathing. Some people state that they have felt strangled. Sleep paralysis is also common in people with Bipolar disorder or those that are suffering with extreme anxiety. There are many explanations out there however, experts agree that they are still not 100% sure what the root cause is. What we do know is that something is messing with our ZZZ’s. Some of the theories include:
- History of depression
- Sleeping on one’s back contributes to sleep paralysis (although it really can occur in any sleeping position)
- Not getting enough quality sleep
- Too much stress in one’s life
- Always overtired/overworked
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet
A quote from the Household Cyclopedia of 1818 offers up this bit of advice in regards to a proper diet in order to avoid a nightmare:
“Great attention is to be paid to regularity and choice of diet. Intemperance of every kind is hurtful, but nothing is more productive of this disease than drinking bad wine. Of eatables those which are most prejudicial are all fat and greasy meats and pastry… Moderate exercise contributes in a superior degree to promote the digestion of food and prevent flatulence; those, however, who are necessarily confined to a sedentary occupation, should particularly avoid applying themselves to study or bodily labor immediately after eating. Going to bed before the usual hour is a frequent cause of night-mare, as it either occasions the patient to sleep too long or to lie long awake in the night. Passing a whole night or part of a night without rest likewise gives birth to the disease, as it occasions the patient, on the succeeding night, to sleep too soundly. Indulging in sleep too late in the morning, is an almost certain method to bring on the paroxysm, and the more frequently it returns, the greater strength it acquires; the propensity to sleep at this time is almost irresistible.
What People Experience
Approximately 6% of people in the general population experience sleep paralysis and the common age range is 25 to 44 years of age. Also, men and women experience sleep paralysis equally. The sleep paralysis occurs when a person is falling asleep or upon awakening. Other symptoms may include:
- Not being able to move
- Not being able to speak
- Hearing voices
- Seeing ghosts
- Seeing Shadow People
- Seeing alien beings
- Experiencing total panic
- Observing an intruder (various descriptions in addition to those in this listing)
- Visit from an incubus
- Overall feeling of a menacing presence
- Feeling of helplessness
What’s Your Opinion?
The ability to move just one finger appears to break the sleep paralysis spell and I agree with this since I experienced sleep paralysis when I was in my twenties. I never saw any type of entity but did experience whispering up above my face and the inability to move while on my back. I remember feeling panicked and my goal was to move any part of my body to break the terror I was feeling at the time. My younger son has told me that he has had a few episodes of sleep paralysis. It is thought to be a common thread in some families. There is a great deal leaning towards a genetic link.
The general consensus is that you do not need to fear the hag sitting on your chest because it’s your brain that is the cause. I have not formed a conclusive opinion on this one after researching this subject. Scientists certainly do not know everything and some of the stories told by individuals lead me to believe that there just might be a paranormal relation to the terrifying experiences. If the cause is our brain, why not make it a happy experience then?
A 2015 documentary was produced entitled The Nightmare and it discusses the causes of sleep paralysis. It was released in theatres on June 5th of this year. Many interviews were conducted and are seen through the interviews with documentary participants who are played by actors.
A Very Interesting Documentary
Have you had an experience with sleep paralysis? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subjects. You can share your story here or leave a comment or question below.
Thanks for stopping by!