Awhile ago we watched the documentary titled ‘The Nightmare’ for our Netflix and Chill podcast – and since then friends have been coming out of the woodwork to share their sleep paralysis stories with us. The doc was created by Rodney Ascher. His previous film, Room 237, shared some wild theories on Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. This time around with ‘The Nightmare’ he takes a frightening look at a condition that plagues thousands; the scariest place on earth, sleep paralysis. We hear several first hand accounts from people who have actually experienced it.
So we went to the interwebs looking for some of the most terrifying sleep paralysis stories on Reddit. Here are 12 real life, first-hand experiences shared by Reddit users. If you scare easily these stories may not be for you.
THE LITTLE GIRL
“I live in a fairly sized apartment. There’s a small hallway that enters into the living room. I have sheer curtains with a swag scarf valance (you’ll need the visual) separating the living room and hallway. The timing was around noon and my SO just stepped in the bathroom to take a shower. I lay down on the coach, just waiting while getting comfy and lazy. As I lay there, I started to hear ringing in my ears. Don’t know about you guys but that’s how sleep paralysis starts with me followed by the heaviness.
I try to yell for help but I can’t even open my mouth as I feel myself sinking into the couch, head first. As i’m trying to move my body, to no avail, I shift my eyes and see a little girl standing in front of me. She looked around the age of 6-7, her hands were behind her back and she was staring at me waiting for me to look at her. Something was telling me she wants my attention. Once I did, she started happily prancing in my living room, playing while humming a playful tune. She would occasionally look over her shoulder making sure i’m still paying attention to her. She wanted me to acknowledge her for some reason.
I tried to speak to question her but couldn’t. I continue trying to break free until I finally start to gain movement of my fingers. Not long till the rest of my body follows. She notices this and gets up from the floor where she was playing, casually walks on the wall on all fours and into the curtain valance cradling herself in it like a hammock. I now can see two very tall dark figures, one slightly taller than the other, staring at me through the sheer curtains right behind the girl. Where they are standing is right in front of the bathroom door. My partner opens the door for the bathroom and I snapped out of the sleep paralysis at the same time.
Now that i have regained full control of myself, the little girl and the figures are all gone. I don’t know who that girl was or what I saw that day. She looked very human and normal but the other two figures I can’t really say. That was the first and last time I saw her.”
IT WAS DEAD – HELP ME
“I woke up in our bedroom to my wife saying “help me, please help, please help” and I was paralyzed. I broke free and turned to her but she was sleeping softly, and then I saw it. When I turned my head back between us over the bed a shadow had appeared, and out of it sharp black hands stretched out and and a…head that was grey/white (it was DEAD, I’m more sure of that than anything I’ve ever written..It felt dead to me)…and there was black shadow-like smoke, like a veil, that was rustling over it like…it was trapped under it. All of a sudden it was F@#$ing ANGRY and… right at me. It started choking me, and I started to writhe and kick and moan and finally after 5 seconds of utter terror my wife kneed me in the thigh and I REALLY woke up. She said I was making weird noises. I probably was, I don’t doubt that at all. I asked her if she was ok and told her sorry, and that it was a waking dream. She went back to sleep and I’ve been up ever since.”
LET’S PLAY PEEK-A-BOO
“My sleep paralysis (SP) started to get painful one night after a horrible nightmare. I remember in the dream, I was in my old, white, beat up Cadillac. I wasn’t driving, I was in the passenger seat and in the back their was a child in a car seat. I have three brothers that I am significantly older than so I automatically assumed that it was one of them. I look back from the front seat to the child in the car seat, probably just to entertain it, as I would with any of my baby brothers, and there’s this baby I don’t know, just sitting there. Probably with the intentions of playing “peek-a-boo” or anything to make it smile, I get closer to the baby. Suddenly, this baby grabs me by the throat, hard. My body is immediately paralyzed, and the baby’s face turns into an extremely evil look. I imagine that demons look the way this baby suddenly did. As the baby holds me with its little arm, which seemed to be filled with raw strength, it clenches my throat even tighter, brings me close to its face, and with a sinister smile and the voice of the devil, it looks at me with these glowing red eyes and says, “I remember you.” I felt pure terror. To this day I have never felt more scared. I woke up and tried to forget what I just dreamed. But after that night, my SP experiences started to hurt.
The first time it hurt, it was a typical SP experience, I’m watching myself sleep, then the “earthquake” sound comes, then the shadowy figures yelling at the top of their lungs by my doorway appear. “Okay” I’m thinking, lets get this over with. I figured I would just wait it out, and let it pass. I immediately get this pain in my chest. I feel this pressure build, pushing down on it, like my body is being compressed. Its increasing and getting worse every second. I can’t escape it and I’m still paralyzed. “Fuck it” I thought, “Your ribs are all about to break and theres nothing you can do about it.” As I prepare for the fractures in my ribcage that I was sure was about to occur, the pressure is released. Relief. “Great, the SP is done for tonight.” Yet I was still paralyzed. I then feel this force that grabs my legs and is pulling me extremely fast out of my bed and out of my room in to darkness. I suddenly woke up, laying in bed, not having moved an inch.”
SPOON WITH ME
“Suddenly I will feel something clinging onto me and cuddle /spoon me with very heavy breathing behind my ear or if sometimes a shadowy monkey looking creature sits on my chest and at this point, i can not breathe or move. As i panic and try to struggle, normally the creature drags me under the bed.. And i try to struggle to get back on the bed, crawling on the floor while it stands and watches me. The funny part is that during the experience, the room is always as you had left it the night before- i could see my half empty cup of coffee, the plates, the junk exactly as i left them the night before. I would then immediately wake up and find myself on the bed and drift back to sleep after a few seconds like a hypnosis and the whole experience would repeat itself. Ive read many scientific theories about SP but none has explained why we always drift back to sleep immediately after for the horrific experience.”
IT’S FEEDING OFF MY FEAR
“I’ve had sleep paralysis ever since I was a teenager. The older I’ve gotten the more intense and realistic they have become. The most recent being this:
I am in bed, the room is dark and I am unable to move. I try to lift my arms or move my head or sit up and it’s impossible. The more I struggle the more intense the weight. I’m awake, I’m dead certain I’m awake, only I’m not. Everything in the “dream” is correct, its my bedroom, my bed, my armoire, my reading chair, even my dog curled up beside me… Everything is as it should be, but I can’t move. Then comes this feeling that I’m not alone, there’s something in the room with me, and it’s not good. I can’t see it, but I can feel it, standing in the corner staring at me, and it’s moving closer every second, slowly, but coming none the less. I’m horrified, the more I struggle the more I feel like I’m shackled to the bed. My dog isn’t responding at all, and the last thing I can think to do is to call for help. I live alone but I have to do something. This thing is moving closer to me and it’s starting to take shape; old, withered, dead, and it’s feeding off my fear. I open my mouth, I can feel the words moving on my lips, but nothing comes out. I scream for help… Nothing, again, nothing. This creature is at the foot of my bed, eyes burning red, I can smell it, this has to be real because you can’t smell in dreams, and I can hear it… Thick rasping breaths. As it reaches out for me I scream bloody murder a single word, MOM! Again I scream at the top of my lungs, MOM! I push with every ounce of my life, push out one last time MOM!!
As I push out that last scream I can feel my body waking up, and as I push, the scream becomes reality, and I am in my bed, dog completely freak out because I just screamed awake. I don’t know what causes this sleep disorder but it really scares the s**t out of me. Every time I’ve had one I can’t go back to sleep, I’ve even gotten up and gone to a different room because I’m completely terrified. I’ve seen the man twice, I’ve seen my curtains turn into hands, I’ve even seen my ex who passed away two years ago. It only happens once a month, sometimes twice… And I’m always screaming for my mom, which, after much effort, finally does wake me up.”
“I experienced an episode of sleep paralysis a while ago and I have been looking to share it with someone.
I was lying in bed and it was pitch black but there was a noise downstairs like soft footsteps. One of the lights turned on and I figured it was someone in my family coming to wake me up or something, so I just stayed in bed quiet and waited for them to come upstairs. The moment they stepped foot on the stairs I knew it was an intruder, it was just the way I heard the footsteps, slow and cautious like they were trying to be silent. I then saw their shadow moving up the stairs – I tried to call out, maybe they were someone in my family? Then I realised I had no voice! I could hear my heart begin to race, I could hear it inside my head, as the shadow crept up the stairs. I tried to jump out of my bed and charge the individual but I was paralysed!
Then the intruders footsteps and my heart beat were acting at the same time, and I seriously felt like I was going to die. I turned my head to see my killer and I believe it was a man but he was covered in darkness and he definitely had something in his right hand, like a gun. Then I woke up to the sound of my own heavy breathing.
It was such a frightening experience unlike I’ve ever felt before and I just felt like sharing it.”
THE DARKNESS GROWS / IT SMILED AT ME
“Sleep paralysis is a terrifying phenomenon. If you’ve ever experienced it you know what I mean, if you haven’t then count yourself lucky. Most people will experience this at least once or twice. I’ve had it 5 times exactly. I researched it after the 3rd time and now I take active precautions against it happening anymore. I’ve learned sleeping on your back and in an unfamiliar or unsafe location can trigger it more easily, but it can happen at any time.
The final time happened two years ago, when I was 20. I had bought a new bed and didn’t have the frame yet so I layed it on the floor to sleep on for the night. It was in front of my dark closet and I dozed off. I woke up paralyzed, and my closet door was in front of me. This time I was scared, but calm. The last experience was so shocking that this time couldn’t possibly be as bad. I simply watched as the dark closet began to grow and grow, to take form and spread throughout the room. I recalled the second time when the darkness took form in the corner of my room, and simply assumed that this time would be no different. As the darkness began to grow and form, in the middle of the closest there was something… Someone in there began to walk out. It was the same figure from before. Except it had a mouth this time, and it smiled at me. I woke up.
Since this incident, I have not had sleep paralysis. It has been 2 years and now I live in a different state and I’m married. I take every precaution I can every night to not have it again. I refuse to fall asleep on my back, I don’t eat before bed, and I make sure I feel safe. I have a feeling this figure I encountered wants to see me more, and I don’t want that to ever happen again.”
TAKE A SEAT
“So for some reason, for the past 2 weeks I have been experiencing SP almost every night. It used to happen often when I was obsessed with lucid dreaming but after some terrible experiences I never looked back.
Usually the shadowy figure of a man just stands in my room and stares at me, sometimes moving closer. However, the other night I opened my eyes to see him facing away sitting on my swiveling computer chair. At first I thought I was awake and that the shadow was just my chair…Until the chair slowly began rotating to face me, I could not move or yell, and sure enough, the man was sitting on it completely still, looking directly at me.
I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. Funny though, the love/hate sentiments I have toward these experiences. They are fascinating but terrifying.”
FLOATING BESIDE MYSELF
“Once, I fell asleep on my back (which I’m not supposed to die to sleep paralysis), and I felt that I couldn’t move anymore. I had my hand on my chest when I was sleeping and I began pressing my hand down on my chest because I thought I would start floating because I’ve had an out of body experiences before.
Anyway, I started floating to the right side corner of the room and I saw myself, from my bed, looking at myself floating in the air. And then I was looking at myself floating through my own eyes. In short, I was looking at myself in first person and third person. After that, “I” or whatever that was floating disappeared and I was laying on my bed looking at my closet in silence, and then it comes back. It looks all white and it starts circling around my body and it was really cold, then it entered me through my navel and I felt it inside.
Then, I “woke up”, but I was still paralyzed and I tried moving and then I did. But then I “woke up” again when I thought I had already woken up and I was trembling a lot and I was cold and I still felt it inside of me. Anyone know what happened..?”
“I had never dealt with sleep paralysis until just last year. I am twenty years old, and still was during this experience. I had been listening to stories about sleep paralysis, and thought it was interesting but didn’t know if I really believed in it for the longest time. That obviously changed once I had my first time. Before I begin, I want to say that I am a pretty big guy, and I don’t scare easily. In fact I love horror movies and books so much that I am planning on becoming a horror writer as a career. This should help you to reaize just how much this experience frightened me.
I remember waking up and being able to tell from the light coming in the room that it was pretty early in the morning. I remember trying to reach for my phone, but I found I couldn’t move. For some reason, I didn’t even realize that this was sleep paralysis for a while afterwords. Anyways I was looking around my room, starting to panic slightly cause I realized I couldn’t move, that is when I saw her.
My sister R, was standing near the foot of my bed, just standing there. When she saw that I had noticed her, she started walking towards me. I love my sister, and never would say anything mean about her, but she is admittedly a little overweight, and as she walked closer and closer to my head, I watched in horror as she started to become thinner and paler with every step!by the time she reached my head, she was nothing but skin stretched over a skeleton. Now I knew that in these experiences its common to see and sometimes even hear things, but I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. I watched her raise a hand, and I felt it as she started to slightly caress my forehead.
That was what finally broke me out of it, and I ended up screaming so loud that I woke up the whole house. It just so happened that my sister R, was in the bathroom in the room next to me, and she was the first one to enter the room after I screamed, which just lead me to scream more.
I have not had any instances of sleep paralysis since that incident, and I hope I never do again. I can say though, that to anyone who doesn’t believe this is a real phenomenon, trust me it’s all too real.”
SLOWLY CRUSHING ME
“I have a lot of sleep paralysis experiences. I have had sleep issues since I was just a kid. Whether it’s nightmares, insomnia, intense fatigue, or sleep paralysis, something is always going on with my sleep.
So I thought I would share what commonly happens to me during a sleep paralysis episode. I feel awake the whole time it happens. It doesn’t matter if I’m on my side or on my back. I’ll start to feel a very even weight pushing down on my entire body equally. I compare it to the feeling of having a mattress on top of me.
The weight will just press me down into my bed, but it doesn’t hurt. I can still breathe, I just feel very heavy and unable to move.
After this comes the roller feeling. I call it the roller because it is another weight, but it starts down at my feet, and it feels like a steam roller is slowly crushing my body flat, from the bottom up. It gets steadily more painful as it goes up. By the time the roller reaches my hips, I feel like all of my blood has rushed up into my head. I feel intense pressure.
The roller feeling continues to come up and when it reaches my chest, I can’t breathe. I literally feel like everything is going to squish out of my head as it finishes rolling over me. When it finally rolls over my head, I feel normal again. My body’s pressure evens out, and I can breathe again. I just can’t move still, but I’m so relieved by the time the roller is done.
After this part happens, I will slide into a nightmare, or experience waking night terrors (the shadow men and things like that).
If I’m woken up after the roller part happens, I will shiver uncontrollably until I fall asleep again. It feels like I’m being electrocuted and that’s the only movement I have during these episodes.”
A PERSON MADE OF BLACK FIRE
“I can recall the first time I experienced sleep paralysis when I was 11 or 12 years old and it happened pretty frequently as I got older. I started to realize after doing a lot of research on the subject that I just needed to relax and not panic and it would go away. Sometimes there would be the infamous Intruder that would come into my room or I’d hear someone in the house that wasn’t there but this morning was the first time something made–for lack of a better term–contact with me.
I woke up to the feeling of something sitting right next to me on the side of the bed. I thought it was my cat so I opened my eyes to shoo him away but nothing was there. The sunken in, weighted feeling didn’t go away. I tried to go back to sleep and that’s when I saw something come into the room. It was a person made of black fire, like a shadow person but it moved like fire.
I was laying on my side facing out and this thing came closer. I closed my eyes hoping if I relax it will go away but for the first time I actually felt held down. I felt someone press my head into the pillow and push down my legs and I heard this crazy, incoherent voice. It was rambling something I didn’t understand in this weird multi-voice, several different pitches talking together. I tried to scoot away and bat it away but it got right in my face and started chanting “Kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me” in my ear. It suddenly let go and started wailing like it was crying and thrashing around before it disappeared.
I have had a lot of dreams about being badly hurt in weird ways. One dream I cut my hand and a day later there were worms inside the wound. In another I dreamed that I saw my skin tearing off of my muscles.”