There are a number of syndromes that are based in the spirit world rather than in actual fact. One such syndrome that has made the rounds and that is certainly something to contend with is old hag syndrome. While there are tons of stories and plenty of lore, there are also some basis in fact that have to do directly with the syndrome. Knowing a bit more about it, about its origins, and about the truth behind this syndrome can help everyone understand.
The old hags syndrome very basically defined is something that scientists have come to call sleep paralysis. The phenomena started out as a feeling of being unable to move, you wake up in the night and are unable to move, you feel a pressure on your chest, and you cannot speak, breathe, or stand up. This is a syndrome that is somewhat common in more people than you might think. Though the syndrome is now more commonly referred to as sleep paralysis, there is some interesting facts about how it came to be known as old hag syndrome.
The episodes do not last very long, most people that report the syndrome are generally over it in about thirty seconds which makes it all the more terrifying. Rather than the paralysis being permanent or it being a bit more serious, these episodes come and go and some have even reported several episodes in one night. This is a syndrome that almost always happens at night. This is also something that is far more common in those that believe in spirits and that jump to the conclusion that it was something supernatural that caused the feeling rather than something that is potentially medical.
How Was Old Hag Syndrome Named?
The syndrome with the name old hag has origins in the earliest days of lore. Since man was able to write about the ailments they felt, old hag syndrome has been around. The name of this syndrome comes from the belief that an old hag or spirit sits on the chest of the victim and keeps them from moving, from sitting, and from breathing. This syndrome has roots deep in the middle ages and was even reported in the Salem Witch trials. The first girl that was afflicted, Mercy, reported an old hag that would come and sit on her chest so that she could not call for help and so that she could not do anything to help herself or to report the witch.
That being said, those that feel the old hag believe that she could be a vengeful spirit, a ghost, or even a witch. There is no basis in how she chooses her victims or how she comes to the people that are being affected but she does. Those that are affected by this syndrome often feel that there is a sinister presence in the room, that they can hear things, see shadows, see eyes, or even hear people talking. Those that are experiencing these things are often far more likely to believe that there is a ghost or a witch rather than those that believe there is a medical or scientific explanation.
This is a fairly common syndrome and it does affect about 15 percent of the population at least once in their lifetime. That being said however, those that feel it are far more likely to feel it again than those that have never felt it before. Those that feel this are more likely to jump to conclusions at the moment of the supposed “attack” simply because they are out of sorts and they are going to feel strange and afraid when they come to. In some cases, those that do have this feeling end up passing out which makes them even more terrified.
Old Hag Syndrome Stories
There are thousands upon thousands of stories about the Old Hag Syndrome and about demons and witches that have pinned people into their beds. That being said, there is something to be said that so many people claim that they are feeling these things and that their stories are so similar. The most common way that an old hag story starts is that a person is woken suddenly from their sleep. They may feel a presence, hear a noise, and have a feeling that they are not alone, after than, they feel as if they are pinned to their bed. Some claim that they smell strange things, that they see shadows and apparitions, that they hear someone else breathing.
For about thirty seconds, the person is completely immobilized, they cannot move, they cannot speak, and they cannot breathe. After the paralysis passes, they are able to move but they feel strange. They may be afraid, have trouble breathing, and feel as if they are not alone. Most people that experience this are terrified after the episode is over and they are often unable to go back to sleep. Those that are affected by the syndrome are often so upset and afraid that they are not able to do anything to feel better. They may also have sleep trouble after the incident is over.
There are some potential medical causes for this syndrome. The first and most accepted idea is that sleep paralysis is caused by a difficult transition into sleep. Those that have this symptom are often having trouble going to sleep, have an abnormal sleep pattern, or may even have insomnia. In most cases, this is not linked to serious psychiatric problems but can be linked to other problems within the body. Some believe that this may be a sign of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is when the person affected ceases to breathe during the night which may cause instances of extreme fear, and even a feeling of paralysis. Apnea is not all that uncommon but is more likely to be part of the lives of those that have sleep issues or that are overweight. Another possible cause of sleep paralysis is heart trouble. The feeling of the old hag sitting on your chest and of the inability to move is very similar to the symptoms that many people say accompany a heart attack or a severe heart palpitation.
There are still other possible causes that may have been the reason that you experienced sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis can be caused by narcolepsy, seizure disorders, abnormal sleep patterns, and other issues that disrupt the normal patterns of sleep. This is something that is not all that common and if you do experience this you should talk to a doctor to make sure there are no other underlying issues.
Another reason you may be experiencing this is lack of sleep, use of certain medications, sleeping on your back, mental conditions like stress, and even sleep schedule changes. These can all lead to sleep paralysis. There are a few different ways that you can treat this disorder. The first is to alter your sleeping habits. If you have poor sleeping habits, you should take the time to alter your schedule so that you can get a better, deeper, and more restful sleep.
You may also need to treat any mental health issues that you have like anxiety and stress that could be causing you issue. Addressing these can help you get a more restful sleep without having to worry about things and without having to be stressed. You may be able to use an antidepressant, or other sleep medication to help level out hormones and make sleep more possible. It may also be necessary for you to complete a sleep study to see just what other sleep issues you may have that could be causing the sleep paralysis. You do not have to worry about sleep paralysis.
In most cases this is a very limited disorder that does not last long and that may come and go. If you do feel however that it is a serious enough issue to talk to a doctor by all means get to a doctor so that you can see just what may be causing you the issue. It is always best to talk to a doctor if you do feel that you have some sort of underlying issue rather than let it wait and potentially cause a more serious issue. Your doctor can diagnose sleep paralysis, tell you if there are other issues you need to treat, and they can also help you get to a good sleep state to make sure that you are healthy and not experiencing sleep paralysis on a daily basis.