Saturday, September 23, 2006

The old hag

No, not me. A few posts ago I asked about readers' dream habits and asked if anyone had experienced the phenomenon known as "The Old Hag." Alethea described a dream she had that involved the moon turning into the face of an old hag, but that's not quite what I meant. I was referring to the physiological phenomenon of sleep paralysis, specifically, hypnopompic paralysis.

I have had two experiences. Both happened when I woke up from a nap on the couch (or chesterfield for the Canucks in the audience). I don't remember much about the first incident except that I woke up and couldn't move for a few minutes. But I remember the second episode in detail. It happened in the house in which I still live, about 12 years ago, when I was still married. I fell asleep while watching TV with my husband. When I woke up, I was laying flat on my back on the couch and raised my arm to put my hand on the back of the couch, intending to sit up. And that's where I stayed, unable to speak, open my eyes or move another muscle for the better part of half an hour. I know it was that long, as the TV series, "Friday the 13th" was on the television. I could hear and comprehend every word of the story and was able to recount what happened in the show to my husband when I could finally speak again. I didn't experience any fear or panic or the sensation of someone sitting on my chest, as is often described in these episodes. It was more just a feeling of annoyance that I couldn't move.

Our good friends at Wikipedia, as always, have a few words to say on the subject.


Blogger Anna said...

That must have been so scary! Did you freak out?

September 23, 2006 at 11:24 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Nope! I knew what it was, and I didn't have any of the hallucinations that can go tiwth it. I just had to wait it out. And it takes a LOT to make me freak anyway.

September 24, 2006 at 1:55 p.m.  
Blogger Ricardipus said...

Not me, serious out-freakage would have resulted almost immediately.

Yikes, I say. Yikes!

September 24, 2006 at 3:08 p.m.  
Anonymous TC said...

Wow! Sounds like Edgar Allen Poe stuff, Dawn.

Personally I'll stick with Cabernet Sauvignon paralysis!!!

September 24, 2006 at 7:05 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Hmmm. Perhaps it was Cask of Amontillado paralysis, then.

September 24, 2006 at 7:39 p.m.  
Blogger nanuk said...

It must be a terrifying experience. I suggest you never, ever, ever fall asleep again.

September 25, 2006 at 4:47 p.m.  
Blogger mmat said...

i don't think i've ever had the paralysis, but i can often hear the television in my dreams if it's on while i'm asleep. generally a portion of that dream will be spent trying to find the television to try to turn it off.

September 28, 2006 at 9:16 a.m.  
Anonymous Alethea said...

Pretty strange - and interesting. Your wikipedia link describes the more common falling sensation - I've had that one lots. I have some idea from my childhood that it has to do with how sharks must always feel, since they can't swim while they sleep or some such b/s...

October 2, 2006 at 10:31 a.m.  

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