This sounds like an incarnation of the global Sleep Paralysis(and/or Sleep Apnia) myth. Sleep Paralysis is a real medical phenomenon where people are half-awake, but cannot move and still dreaming enough to imagine things sitting on their chest or holding them down. Sleep apnia is when, for whatever medical reason, people find themselves waking up in the middle of the night because they suddenly cannot breathe. You can find similar creatures in the "Nightmare" "Mara" or "Hag", who were all supposed to be demons who sat on people's chests so they couldn't breathe while they slept.

I thought so, too. (Granted, not when I was still a child). Nonetheless, Gniutka is a specific denomination. E.g. since it's zmora in most of Poland, why would it be Gniutka/Gniotka in other parts? 

I'm not sure, but I think the mamuna is known in the rest of poland as well. Also, Panek is right about Gniutka; the most common name for it in Poland is zmora.

Thank you for that information.  :)


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