~ Written By Pattyhap1863 ~

You wake up, or think you do and stare into the darkness of your room. The familiar objects are there, but you feel strange. You hear strange sounds and noises, and you see a dark shape hovering over you. This is when you realize you can’t move, breathe or scream! In total panic, you struggle to let in some fresh air, and even as you try, the sensation that something is on your chest or strangling you is very strong. Then in a few seconds it’s all over, you can breathe and you sit up in bed rather quickly, visibly shaken from the experience.

What I’ve described above is known as the ‘Old Hag Syndrome’. Those of you who have experienced it know the real terror it signifies and probably wish they hadn’t. Not all of the experiences are the same. Most of them include weird noises or smells and strange shapes. Nearly all of them hold the terror of being completely paralyzed while your brain is completely awake, so you are conscious of what is happening to you. Worse of all are the times when you cannot breathe, even when you try to. The shapes you see may be vague or may seem to be very real.

Jessica writes: “The one time I did experience this was awful. I lived in an apartment, and my bed directly faced a corridor into the living room. When I woke up unable to move or scream, what I saw was so terrifying, I couldn’t believe it. Directly across from me were candles burning on the floor, and a coffin. A dark shape was hovering over it and gradually got closer to me. I struggled to move and when I finally was able to break free, the candles, coffin and dark shape were gone. I could breathe and sat there in the dark sweating.”

The Old Hag Syndrome is explained by doctors as Sleep Paralysis. When we sleep, we fall into an hour and a half of a non-REM stage, where we don’t dream. This is followed by deep REM sleep, where we dream and our eyelids move and twitch as we follow the dream. At this moment, we are paralyzed (and this is normal) simply because if we weren’t, we would hurt our loved ones or ourselves (imagine hitting or scratching yourself, or your partner, for example, as your legs or arms move about). So the body simply corrects this by falling into a state of semi-paralysis. When Sleep Paralysis occurs your brain wakes up in the REM stage, but your body is still in the semi-paralyzed state. Your eyes can be open or half-closed and you can see the room and the objects in the room, but you can also see all these other things which are explained by doctors as hallucinations caused by the dream world you are/were in.

According to doctors, Sleep Paralysis occurs only when we are very stressed or when we have been experiencing insomnia for a period of time. There are certain rules to follow to avoid Sleep Paralysis which are living a healthy life and developing good sleeping habits. Even though this may explain nearly all the cases of Sleep Paralysis, the fact remains that the experience is very terrifying to us. However, there are cases where bruises and scratches appear on the bodies of those who are semi-paralyzed. How to explain this if you supposedly can’t move?

There are, of course, other kinds of Sleep Paralysis where people think they are being visited, abducted or scrutinized by aliens while in a semi-paralyzed state. Stephanie writes: “My ‘episode’ of sleep paralysis happened many years ago when I was living with my mother for a very brief period of time while I was between apartments.
It was very typical what happened, though I still have to wonder if I was fully asleep, especially considering events that happened mere weeks prior…but could also be why I thought I saw what I did.
I went to bed as usual and read for a bit, then lay on my stomach to go to sleep and faced out into the room. It was warm out, so I had all the windows wide open, including the sky light and was watching the shadows play on the walls as I thought of things in my life before I closed my eyes to go to sleep. Almost immediately I saw a bright flash, well my eyes were closed so it looked red, the way things do when your eyes are closed and you look at a bright light.
When I opened my eyes I saw several tall, thin figures standing around my bed, two at the foot, three or four around the other side (the bed was pushed up against a wall). It was then that I realized I couldn’t move, when I tried to lift my head. I felt no malice from them, but was of course afraid. Almost it seemed to me like they had been there before, a very long time ago when I was a child (in the same room no less). They only stood and watched me curiously, it seemed, and though I couldn’t see their faces, they certainly didn’t seem human to me. Their limbs were too long, heads too elongated and I just had a strong sense that they weren’t human.
Scared, I closed my eyes and childishly willed them away, but when I opened my eyes they were still there. By now I was very frightened, I couldn’t move, these strange beings are in my room, pretty unsettling. I thought one reached out to touch me, but I closed my eyes again and tried to make myself small, both in body and in my mind and kept them closed. I felt a breeze and then they were gone.”

Sleep Paralysis: Our nightmares taking a life of their own? Our fears and terrors taking shape in the dark and blotting out normal objects in the room? Can all this REALLY be a sleeping condition explained away by medical science? Or is there a very small percentage of cases where people actually do come into contact with visitors from an unseen world?