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December 3, 2022
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Hags and Nightmares
Produced by: Michele Ernsting
It's the middle of the night. You wake up with a start. There's a presence in the room watching you. You sense that it is evil. But you are paralyzed and powerless. It's your worst nightmare, or is it? This program looks at a strangely common condition called sleep paralysis in which people are dreaming while they are awake and are unable to move. Psychologist Al Cheyne explores what happens to the body during these episodes and tries to explain why the experience is so terrifying. Sleep paralysis appears to be the source of some of our most terrifying myths and legends, and it has inspired artists through the ages. Hags and Nightmares was produced by Michele Ernsting of Radio Netherlands, and airs as part of our international documentary exchange series, Crossing Boundaries.

Program Credits

Hags and Nightmares was produced and present by Michele Ernsting of Radio Netherlands. Thanks to Professor Al Cheyne at the University of Waterloo, Andrea Parks, and Hal Crawford. This program originally aired as part of the international documentary collaboration, Crossing Boundaries.


Stanford University-Sleep Paralysis
Visit Stanford University's website on the symptoms, causes, and treatments of sleep paralysis.

Terror That Comes in the Night: An Experience-Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions
by: David J. Hufford 1990
A book on sleep paralysis from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Wrestling with Ghosts: A Personal and Scientific Account of Sleep Paralysis
by: Jorge Conesa Sevilla Ph.D. 2004
Learn more about sleep paralysis.

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Programs by Michele Ernsting

Radio for between the ears
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