Old Hag Syndrome – Sleep Paralysis
Old Hag syndrome is one of the most terrifying experiences a person can have. If you’ve never experienced this strange phenomenon you should count yourself lucky. For those of us who have been unfortunate enough to have encountered this strange occurrence, it is something the majority of us will never forget.
Old Hag syndrome is better known to some as sleep paralysis. If you’ve ever woken up and couldn’t move or make any noise, at least not for a few moments, you have experienced sleep paralysis. That part is terrifying in and of itself, but add to that the fact that many, if not most, people who experience this also tend to see a dark, shadowy figure, and sometimes multiple dark, shadowy figures, whilst going through this very scary ordeal. Often times, people will say they can feel the weight of something on their chest making it hard for them to breathe and holding them down. In folklore, the “old hag” is a witch or demon that sits on the chest of its victims, pinning them down as they struggle to breathe.
Experts in sleep disorders have explained that this phenomenon is likely caused when the subject is in between deep, dreaming sleep, or REM (rapid eye movement), and waking up. The brain shuts down the majority of the body’s muscle functions while we sleep as a natural safety measure to keep us from acting out our dreams.
Sometimes, however, we may wake up too suddenly while we are still dreaming and before our muscle functions have been reactivated, which experts believe is why we experience this temporary paralysis and hallucinations. Nevertheless, sleep experts still do not have a definite answer as to what causes the brain to do this or why some people experience it more than others.
What is most mysterious about Old Hag syndrome is the fact that so many people of all ages from around the world, with cultural and religious differences, and of all different levels of education, have had such strikingly similar experiences, which is why this spooky phenomenon still remains unexplained to this day.
What are your thoughts on the Old Hag? Have you ever experienced this for yourself? Leave your comments below.
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