Have You Ever Experienced Sleep Paralysis?

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.

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

Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.


  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. It is definitely a demon. I have had the same experiences and they have continued . In fact, the older I get they are increasing. One has spoken the same sentence to me several times in both my right ear and dirctly in front of me about 8 ft away. The first time with in my ear and it was right next to me.

  2. 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..

    1. 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!

  3. 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 –

      1. 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?

  4. 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

  5. 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….

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. I’ve had sleep paralysis 3 times and don’t remember seeing anything but a few months ago I had the old hag syndrome and seen the old hag the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had and also 3 other people in my family have had sleep paralysis and said they seen dark figures in the room aswell, the sister now sleeps with the blanket over her head in it happens again

  8. One memorable paralysis incident was coupled with lucidity.
    The six silver-purplish statuesque vaguely giger-esque feminine entities had concluded the rape and left me lying on a wet floor in a dark vast expanse of decay. Sprawled in cold paralysis among the damp black, my dream eyes looked up to find a lumbering figure approaching through shadowy chiaroscuro: porcine, alabaster, otherworldly; uttering guttural grunts and moist snorts with every heavy step forward splashing in the wet stench.
    I attempted to cry out, but no words came; the effort too exhausting, sound that escaped throat naught but a strangled anguished whisper; it was enough to roust my spouse from her slumber and wake me out of that netherworld with her loving concern. I thanked her, and kissed her, and held her for a long time.

  9. Wow!!! I have always been curious to know if there was a name to what happened to me over 30 years ago, I am 44 now. I was 7 or 8 and lived somewhere in eastern-central Mississippi where ghostly folklore was as common as Springtime rain. This particular night, I slept in the spare bedroom next to my parents’ room. Just before dozing off to sleep, I gazed through the darkened doorway leading to my parents’ bedroom open door. And that is when I saw it…

    I’m not sure how to explain this, but it appeared like the upper portion of a human leg – hip to knee – in motion…walking towards the foot of the bed I was lying in. As it got closer, it took on more of a human form. I could make out the full form as it stood looming at the foot of my bed. There was no stench or any other identifying smell or sound other than my own. But it stood quietly and motionlessly at the foot of my bed. I thought it was my father who worked out-of-town, at the time. But the figure didn’t answer when I called out. Then I thought maybe it was my mother even though I knew the figure to be too tall, but still no answer when I called out again. Then I thought it HAD to be my older brother playing a prank on me and still no answer when I made my empty threat. So, I covered my head and quickly thought that if this is a bad “monster”, I wanted to see which side the bed it planned to attack me so I could escape the other side. But when I uncovered my head, it was gone. I panicked, thinking it had went under the bed I was planning to sleep in until I gazed off into the doorway again and it came back and did the same thing. I finally fell asleep.

    Another 5 or 6 years passed without incident until one night, my younger brother and I shared a bedroom. His twin bed was a the foot of my regular bed. I’m not sure at the time of the morning, but I’d guess it probably around 2 a.m. when it happened. I was partially awakened by the feeling of someone -or something- walking on the bed…on each side of my legs, starting at my ankles. At first, I thought it was my little brother who was only six or seven himself. I thought maybe he was scared or cold, so I thought nothing else of it until I felt it sit down across my stomach and place each of its hands on each side of shoulders and began to feel like biting my neck. I realized I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t move, but I could see…I could see the wall on the other side of our room but could see nothing sitting on me although I certainly felt it.

    I have had several encounters like this, even in adulthood. While these experiences are very real, I believe they have some significance to my spiritual well-being…healthy or not. They have certainly helped me develop a better prayer through the years.

    1. OMG the 2nd incident you won’t believe it is like Deja Vus or Alter Vus it came back, it happened when I was kid I had and probably forgot or suppressed the memory as defense mechanism. Especially biting on neck now came back so vividly now and I dont think its old hag its totally something else didnt see anything but feeling of the bite and something like a hand pressing chest down. Trying to get up scream so bad or hoping somebody comes in my mom or anybody so it stops.

  10. I have suffered this for a considerable time it’s less now than when t started .
    The Sleep Paralysis and Night Hag seem to correspond also with Sleep Apnonea !When you stop breathing in your sleep!) a Darth Vader mask and air machine blows in air and prevents this but the noise of the machine and blue leds keep you awake.
    Last attack occurred on the Spring Equinox full moon and Solar storm incidentally where the Northern Lights where visible over the UK.
    As for defence strategy you can as I have found build imaginary force walls and other mythical figures and weapons to act as guardians of the room!
    sci fi and virtual trappings set virtual minefields to deter the entity if it uses your imagination to scare you why not reverse the process and use it back ?
    Seems to work but when you drop your guard it comes back even with a nightlite!
    From a non stop attacks and no sleep I can now rest with the occasion show ,the attacks I seem aware of leading up to it others not so sneak ones! Temp drop ice cold ,feeling of something pulling the sheets off , a real heavyweight or small object crawling up the bed on to my chest ,sounds whispering or outright threats i’m asking who it is? what it wants ? images of figures moving slowly and purposely over to my postion leaning right over snarling aggressive , and others of a more relaxed erotic nature of incredibly beautiful women all the same entity I assume in different guises . Throwing it off and trying to wake yourself up out of this nightmare .! Keeping a dream diary is useful to record events or set a video recorder trap and motion sensor with alarm might help to see and hear if there’s any actual paranormal activity registering also evidence !
    Or I might just have an over active imagination ….?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *