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What Is Sleep Paralysis? (Signs, Symptoms, and Causes)

Kristen Havens

William Shakespeare refers to it as an “old hag” in his play “Romeo and Juliet.” Dutch physician Isbrand Van Diemerbroeck in the mid–1600s documented a patient who believed the Devil or a large dog appeared to crush the breath from her. The Greek physician Galen wrote of it nearly two millennia ago, and a nearly 2500-year-old Chinese book about dreaming mentions it. In more modern times, variants include tales of evil magic, witchcraft, and alien abductions.

 “It,” in this case, refers to the sleep disorder known as Sleep Paralysis.

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