Author: Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, and podcaster. His interests include areas of history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and the study of anomalous phenomena in nature. He can be reached at

3 Replies to “While You Were Sleeping: Night Hags and the Paranormal

  1. Hi Micah,

    I just spent a year making a documentary (The Nightmare) about experiences, interpretations, and theories about SP around the world. What you and everyone should know about this phenomena is that it is not understood. At this point their are only theories about why or how it happens. It is still an anomalous experience. Sleep Paralysis (with it’s associated hallucinations) is simply a name given by scientists.

    What is known is that when it happens we are awake and asleep at the same time meaning we are in an altered state of consciousness, much like a shaman’s trance. What triggers it is not known. Why everyone sees such similar entities is not known. Why SP is a common feature of Poltergeists, Alien Abductions and Demonic Possession is not known. Even top researchers like Allan Cheyne have admitted to me on film that this could very well be an encounter with a non-material being. David Hufford certainly believes that it is.

    We for example herd many first hand accounts of numerous people in the same house having SP in the same night – though none had had it before or since, and a few cases where there multiple witnesses to an attack.

    For really mind blowing aspects of SP. People should look at the Popo Bawa epidemic of Zanzibar or Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome of the Hmong refugees in the US.

    So when people say “oh it was not supernatural/paranormal, it was just Sleep Paralysis” they are not offering an explanation – just a medical name for the experience.

    I like your article!

    PS: Hag is a European term that means witch.

  2. Adam,

    Thanks for the excellent comments! Indeed, it seems that many of the mysteries surrounding this phenomena surround not only the bizarre experiences, but the nature of sleep paralysis itself. Indeed, there are far too many variables to consider, and furthermore, worth studying!

    Thanks for the tip about the word “hag” also. I remember hearing of an old European folk ballad recorded by The Bothy Band in the 1970s called “Old Hag You Have Killed Me.” Bizarre title indeed, but it clearly illustrates the use of the term “hag” in early European traditions. I think what I had leaned toward was that “night hag” might be a Southern US term, but I think even that may be debatable!

    I would be very interested in seeing your film… feel free to contact me in the future at and keep me up to date on this project!



  3. I use to suffer from SP until I realized what was happening to me.

    About 2 years ago, I was asleep on the couch and heard my dog walking around in the living room. I knew it was her because of the tags on her collar. Funny thing was she did not have her collar on before we went to sleep. I felt her jump on the couch walk across me and lay down. I woke up to find my dog, sound asleep, with no collar on.

    A few days after that, I was asleep on the couch again and had kind of an “old hag” experience, only the entity was male. I woke up to find this dark shadow hovering over me. I could make out his long hair and then he spoke to me. He said “forgive me”. Of course at this point I was paralyzed. I remember being pulled up off of my pillow, like he had grabbed my shirt and was pulling me up. I was, to say the least, terrified! I tried waking up, but was still paralyzed. When I finally did wake up, my dog had slept through the whole thing, so I shrugged it off as a dream.

    The SP only happened on that couch, never in my bed. I listen to C2C AM and heard a guest talk about SP one night. After that, it has not happened to me since.

    Weird huh?

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