It’s become more clear over the past few years that most cases of the “Old Hag” are merely sleep paralysis. That’s not to say they all are, but a lot of them are. It’s also been questioned why are these Old Hag experiences so terrifying if they’re not paranormal?
Well, maybe this can help make some sense out of it:
The reality is that SP causes a situation where fear and terror are induced by the very condition you wake up in. Being immobilized with a sudden choking feeling plus hallucinations, of course the brain’s natural reaction to this is to panic, however slow your reactions may be due to sleep you will feel a sense of danger. This reaction leaves little room for vivid imaginations of good things such as angels and with the introduction of horror movies and ghost stories into our lives, of course we immediately jump to conclusions from what our surroundings dictate; darkness, paralysed……must be EVIL!!
Sleep paralysis IS linked with Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. When you dream, somehow your brain knows to not physically act out your dreams or move your muscles…so in a way you are sort of paralyzed. SO, when you do wake up with an episode of sleep paralysis, you’re in the middle of your semi-paralyzed dream state and awakeness — which causes intense panic.
Of a recent survey it is suggested that between 25-30% of the general population has suffered some form of SP with 95% of these experiencing a perceived horrifying event. It is now considered to be a common disorder among the population, but not many people admit to suffering from sleep paralysis.
The biggest cause for sleep paralysis is stress. It makes sense, since stress can affect our sleeping patterns. But, another noted cause is HOW you sleep…the way you lay.
Reports and research by Dr. J. A. Cheyne show that sufferers sleeping in the face up position are five times more likely to suffer an episode of sleep paralysis than others who attempt to sleep in a different position during normal sleep. Avoidance of sleeping on your back and attempting to not roll over into this position during the night is strongly advised. The use of a small squash or tennis ball placed behind your back can sometimes help with this.