The Old Hag Syndrome Movie: Have You Ever Experienced Sleep Paralysis?

By on June 9, 2014 // Entertainment // 13 Comments


You awake suddenly in the middle of the night, unable to move and terrified to open your eyes. The sound of wretched breathing slowly approaches, and a force begins to push down upon your chest. And just when you think you will die of fright, the terror vanishes and you can move again.

Was it a nightmare, or something more?

There’s no hard estimate of how many people experience sleep paralysis. A study published in 2011 revealed that it affects at least 7.6 percent of the general population, with that number skyrocketing to 31.9 percent for those who suffer psychiatric disorders.

However, I’ve seen figures as high as 60 percent accounting for the number of people who will experience it at least once in their lives.

It’s not considered dangerous, but sleep paralysis has another name that invokes a different perspective: the Old Hag Syndrome.

Are they one and the same? Those who encounter the Old Hag, like those who experience sleep paralysis, awake immobilized to a feeling of powerful dread, and a dark figure looming over them. I ask because not everyone is convinced that the Old Hag Syndrome and sleep paralysis are related.

If only it were just a nightmare…

old-hag-syndrome-movieIn 2012, I posted about a horror movie in the works, aptly titled The Old Hag Syndrome.

Produced by One Eyed Dog Films, the movie is based on a novel written by Tim Dankanich, and tells the story of Annette Chambers, a would-be psychologist who suddenly finds herself in a space between nightmare and reality.

She will face the Old Hag, but is the supernatural entity real or nothing more than a psychological manifestation? I suppose we’ll find out.

The Old Hag Syndrome, starring MyAnna Buring and Sean Maher, is now scheduled for a 2015 release, and will begin shooting in September.

For the time being, you can check out their official website for more information, or visit their Facebook page.

Old Hag Syndrome concept art by Tim Dankanich

Old Hag Syndrome concept art by Tim Dankanich

Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis, or been visited by the Old Hag?

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About the Author

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. He manages Stranger Dimensions in between changing aquarium filters and reading bad novels about mermaids.

  • GirlParanormal

    Loved this article! I have suffered from sleep paralysis for about 3 years actually and it is one of the most terrifying things to experience. I haven’t been visited by the old hag, but I do typically get hallucinations during the paralysis. I have only experienced sleep paralysis 10 times in the last three years but usually the hallucinations are of my deceased mother who passed 3 years ago (coincidence?) but she is unnaturally deformed or demented. A few times I have had auditory hallucinations as well, of someone screaming and breathing into my ear. Defiantly not a fun experience.

    • Rob

      Wow, that sounds terrifying. I wonder what it is that causes some people to experience sleep paralysis many times, while others (like myself) never experience it at all. I’ll count myself lucky!

      Anyway, I’m really glad you liked the post.

    • GirlParanormal

      My experiences have all been brought on my a combination of major stress and lack of sleep, but there are a lot of different causes.

    • Eileen Müller

      i have had hallucinations of my deceased grandmother, i’m with you. this is not funny at all

  • Jyouji

    Hi! First, it’s a great site.. I’ve suffered from this paralysis since I was kid, and I have seen things like shadows moving far from me, or heard people calling my name.. but never something like the art above..

    • Rob

      Yeah, most people who’ve experienced sleep paralysis don’t really seem to talk about an “old hag,” as far as I’ve seen. Maybe hallucinations or other things, but not so much the troll witch sitting on their chest. That might just be a holdover from old folklore, but it’s an interesting one.

      Thanks for visiting the site!

  • Mark Dayton

    Growing up this happened to me a lot… I was convinced my house was haunted.. I’m so glad i found this article..

    HERE is one that i remember so clearly… SO what would happen is IN my dream, I would look at an object, for some reason I remember is a wallpaper with a queen sitting in a chair, all of a sudden my it would zoom in and out, really fast, she smiled at me and then I woke up.

    Upon waking up, i heard a lot of weird noises, i remember hearing someone say “We finally go you” i was facing my door, when i saw a person, with two wooden peg legs, a pumpkin looking head, standing their staring at me… Then i all of a sudden felt peace and said in my mind, JUST get it over with ( i was only 10) thinking i was about to be killed..

    Its crazy, this happened to me so much, and it would always start with my eyes moving in and out… It got to the point where I knew how to break out of it.. Screaming would never work, talking nothing came out… I learned by focusing moving my arm it would break me out of it..

    I’m 24 now and it hasnt happened in years! but TWO years ago i looked into it, and it turns out, that the sleep paralizing is ACTUALLY what people do to induce out of body experiences… Which i now believe is simply youre dreaming while awake…

    Its awesome seeing others had this happen.. And am glad I was not getting possesed by a demon haha..

    (feel free to contact me –

    • Mark Dayton

      its 2am here… sorry for my spelling errors, I am educated i promise haha.

    • Victor Valenzuela

      you were not being possessed but only being paralyzed… I suffered this myself and I know what it is now. what does it make your believe is only dreaming while awake but you are always seeing shadows..? why not other things?

  • @AimlessMovie

    I suffered from sleep paralysis since I was 13. I started to study it more in college while in my screenwriting class and I wondered why so many people hallucinated demons during #SleepParalysis. That led to my film project I am currently working on.. please check out our blog page where we have scientific and spiritual solutions to this phenomenon

  • AdamE

    I was remodeling a cabin in duck creek with a friend when I had “Old Hag Syndrome”. It looked like an old Navajo lady holding me down. I joke that I got raped by an old lady in my sleep… I wish to never experience either in the future. Well….

  • Eileen Müller

    i really find it funny, i’ve suffered from isolated sleep paralysis since i was little. I never heard about the old hag saga since i did research for my bachelor dissertation discussing the nightmare by heinrich füssli. life can be ironic at times.

  • I have been visited once by the old hag. It happened in the summer and I was about 22 yrs old. I was lying in bed with my partner and my baby was asleep in her cot. I could hear someone calling my name from it sounded like the front door so I thought someone was shouting through the letterbox. Then I woke up fully but found I couldn’t move and as it was summer it was getting light outside so it must have been about 4.30am. Then there was this woman looming over me with a wizened face with an almost green couldn’t to it. I felt like she was pressing me down on the bed, I couldn’t talk, I tried to scream and I couldn’t even wake my partner next to me.It was terrifying. I have never seen her since and told no one until I saw a program on TV about the syndrome and then I realised it wasn’t my imagination, it really happened. I hope it never happens again.