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Night Hags

Posted by Janine on July 24, 2000 at 05:54:52:

I write this more in the interest of information sharing than looking for a cure. I don't beleive there to be one and I have learned to deal with these occurrences in my own way over the years. I first began having Night Hags at about 18, for those who are not familiar with them they do have some similarities to sleep paralysis.

I normally 'awaken' feeling a great weight pressing down on to my body. The weight is intense holding me down and pushing me into the mattress. As I become slightly more 'conscious' I realise that the weight is actually a person laying on top of me. The person is facing me and mirroring the way I am laid exactly. As I become more lucid the terror builds, as I know this 'person' to be pure evil.

It is so real I believe I'm awake when I'm actually dreaming. I can smell this person, hear and feel them breathing, although they never speak. I can also see everything in the room even when it's dark, every line and colour is perfectly lucid. It doesn't have to be a room I'm familiar with either, Hags have occurred when I have stayed in unfamiliar surroundings such as a hotel and I can reproduce the room exactly right down to tiny details such as, the angle of a picture or a chip in the furniture.

My Night Hags differ slightly from sleep paralysis in that on most occasions I can actually move or at least I believe I do. For example, I once 'awoke' feeling the weight on me and in my sleepy state I assumed this to be my then boyfriend. When I spoke there was no reply and I reached up to touch his face it was then I discovered that although he had a basic skull shape with hair there were no ears, eyes, nose or mouth the face was entirely smooth, at this point the terror began. I can often move limbs during a Hag but can not move out from under the weight pinning me to the bed. I can also shout and yell but only I can hear myself.

I had no idea what was happening to me until I saw a programme on TV. The programme put the name Night Hags to my experiences and these have apparently been documented as far back as the 17th century. Some people only feel weight on one part of their body, most commonly the chest whilst others experience it over the whole body. Some only experience the feeling of weight, whilst others manifest this weight into demons, devils, aliens or whatever nasty monster their subconscious can conjure up.

In the programme a Professor from a US University Sleep Research Centre (I forget which one) claimed that people had to let Night Hags run their course and that he had never come across anyone who could awaken themselves from them. This is not true as I taught myself to wake up from a Night Hag and it also works with ordinary nightmares.

The idea of waking myself from the dreams came bizarrely enough from one of the Nightmare on Elm Street films where a medicine man teaches a girl to turn her back on the dream, which takes the power from the dream and makes it disappear. Obviously as I'm pinned to the bed I can't turn my back, but as I become aware that I'm experiencing a Night Hag before the terror and panic set in I tell myself this is just a dream and that I can open my eyes, wake up and end it if I wish. It is difficult to open your eyes and does require practice and it often takes 3 or 4 attempts before I am finally awake. During the first couple of attempts I often think I'm awake, but suddenly find myself back in the Night Hag and must try again, but each attempt raises me closer to consciousness until I am finally awake.

I'd advise never to try and sleep again immediately after a Night Hag, when I do it's as if the episode has not been wiped fully from my subconscious and the Night Hag will begin again almost immediately. I always get out of bed and do something for at least 15 minutes, have a glass of water, read a book and then as the dream fades, sleep comes more easily and peacefully.

My Night Hags tend to occur once or twice a month, usually when I am tired and/or stressed. I know I'm not alone in experiencing them and I hope some of this may be of use to others.


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