We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about their experiences with sleep paralysis. Here are some of the most terrifying responses...
– Submitted by Alice Lang via Facebook
I’ve been having the same dream regularly since I was a child.
I wake up and I’m in my bed. There is someone in the house. I can hear the footsteps moving around, coming up the stairs, slowly. If I stay still, maybe the person won’t come for me. I can hear him coming down the hall, and I can see his shadow: He’s a Minotaur.
He has a knife, and he’s coming for me. I scream. I wake up, relieved, except there’s someone at the bedroom door, and this time, I can’t scream.
– Submitted by ryann4708c4ce1
I get sleep paralysis quite a lot, but you don't get used to it. It's just intense pressure holding you down – I can't speak. I can usually see the shadow of a dark figure out of the corner of my eye, but I can't turn my head to look at it – that's pretty terrifying.
Luckily for me my partner is now used to this and we have a code – I start breathing really quickly and loudly and if he notices that then he helps snap me out of it.
– Submitted by Jen Clayton via Facebook
– Submitted by Ting Diu via Facebook
It happens every time I fall asleep on my back. I wake up and I can't tell if my eyes are open or shut, but I can "see" my whole room. A dark presence is lurking on top of my wardrobe, and as soon as I notice it I try and scream, but I can't scream, and I can't move.
The darkness slithers down the side of my wardrobe, across the floor and looms over the end of my bed. Then it creeps all over me, trying to invade every orifice. I feel an immense pressure like it has pinned me down and is pushing its way into my ears, eyes, and mouth.
The darkness then screams a terrible screech into my face and I try to scream back until eventually I manage to jerk my head and everything disappears, and I'm alone in the darkness. It is the most terrifying of experiences!
– Submitted by Amber Lyons via Facebook
I get it when I have had too much sleep. The only time I was really freaked out was when I thought I could hear chatter in the background, then I could feel someone lay next to me sleeping, the quilt just moving with each breath.
I could feel the weight behind me in bed, snoring. I started to panic as I knew no one was out in house. Eventually I woke up and moved back slightly to feel no one there. Took me a while to get back off that night!
– Submitted by Vikki Halstead via Facebook
– Submitted by Marama Gravett via Facebook
I get it every now and then but I know how to deal with it now. The absolute worst was when I was staying in a hotel with my boyfriend at the time – I remember trying to scream and move, anything to get his attention, but nothing I did would make a sound. It was terrifying.
Then I got up to tell him what happened and he bolted upright and strangled me. And then I finally woke up, incredibly shaken but glad it wasn't real. Honestly, one of the scariest situations in my life and it wasn't even reality.
– Submitted by Richard Prescott via Facebook
The first time it happened to me was when I went for a nap during the day.
I was lying on my side, facing away from my door, when I woke up to the sound of my door closing. I tried to turn around to see who had came into my room but I couldn’t move. My eyes were wide with terror – I could see everything in my room.
I heard this “thing” walk around my room, then it sat on my bed and I could feel the bed dip from its weight. It then shuffled toward me and it felt like it began to spoon me (it was extremely tall).
I was trying to move so hard but I was just lying still. The thing started breathing on my neck and tickling my back. It then stood up and left after a few minutes. This was the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me.
– Submitted by hollyh49ac058b2
– Submitted by Naomi Speirs via Facebook
I started experiencing sleep paralysis during the exam period of my first year at university, a very stressful time for me. The first time it happened, I woke up with the feeling I was being suffocated, my bed was literally swallowing me up.
The more I panicked and the faster my pulse and breathing became, the quicker I was disappearing into the bed. I couldn’t move a muscle and my attempts to scream were silent. After I calmed myself down, I kind of drifted out of my paralysed state and woke up completely.
The second time it happened I awoke to see a very tall man standing by my door holding something behind his back and moving towards me very slowly. Once again I couldn’t move and couldn’t make a sound. It is definitely the most terrifying experience!
– Submitted by sophiew46a57775b
Once I fell asleep on the couch watching some detective show. I woke up and sat up and I was completely out of my body. I kept trying to lay down back into my body and wake myself up. But I just stayed asleep.
I stood up and looked out of the back door, and it was completely dark. Then I went to the opposite side of the room and looked out of the front window, and it was bright and sunny and there was a little old lady sitting under a tree by the lake. I was like, WTF.
I spent the next 10 minutes laying down, then sitting back up trying to attach myself back to my body and shake myself awake. I thought if I didn’t get back in, my body would die and my soul would wander. I didn’t want to leave my living room.
– Submitted by dopeaudio
– Submitted by matth4a3161ad6
I see manifestations of horror in my bedroom at least once a week, from random people chilling on a chair at the bottom of my bed, to creepy old ladies, to swarms of flying ants, or bats.
The worst thing I saw was someone hanging right above my head. I couldn’t move. I wanted to cry. I couldn’t sleep in my room for a few days after that.
The likelihood of it happening increases whether there’s someone in my bed. This is mega awks. Recently some Tinder dude told me in the morning that I was "like the fucking 'Exorcist' last night" and he blates wasn’t talking about activities that happened when I was awake. FML.
– Submitted by anishafiona
My worst experience with sleep paralysis was after I’d been up all night doing an essay. When I finished I immediately dozed off. The next thing I knew, I thought I had completely woken up, except there was a shadow demon looming over the end of my bed.
It didn’t have a face but I could feel it staring at me and it felt like pure evil. I tried with my whole body to scream but nothing came out which only made me panic more.
I felt like the demon was about to attack me, then his head twitched to the side and he pounced on my chest, sort of thrashing at me. I felt like it was suffocating me.
I tried to close my eyes again and put all my energy into trying to wake up and move my body, the whole time with the demon hallucination still attacking me. When I was finally fully awake I lay in bed for about half an hour shaking and next to tears.
It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. I thought it was just a really vivid nightmare until a few months later when I first read about sleep paralysis online.
– Submitted by LolaLola
– Submitted by zoed496101312
I got sleep paralysis a couple of times when I was a kid but it became really bad in my second year of uni. I would wake up unable to move and feeling something sitting on my chest.
It got worse when I started to see things – always in the corner of the room, a dark figure I knew was watching me. Sometimes it would whisper things which of course freaked me out.
One time I was dragged down the bed by this dark figure, unable to stop it, but I managed to force myself to wake up. When we moved out of the house after second year the sleep paralysis stopped and I’ve only had two episodes in the six years since.
– Submitted by charlottec4a27a5d4b
The first time it happened, I remember waking and an enormous pressure bearing down on me and a loud, almost deafening buzzing sound in my ears.
I felt threatened, as though some malevolent, demonic presence was hovering above me, trying to possess me, trying to force itself into my body and I was unable to fight it off. I can remember trying to speak, to tell it to go away, to leave me alone and that I wouldn’t let it have me.
Eventually the sound in my ears faded away and the pressure eased and I was able to move again. At the time, I didn’t really know what sleep paralysis was. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon an article about it that I realised what I was suffering from.
Although I now know that I’m not actually being attacked by some demonic force, it’s still absolutely terrifying when you’re stuck in the moment and unable to do anything except wait for it to end.
– Submitted by sophieo411e84dda
– Submitted by KattyLim
I have terrible hallucinations, and as I try and fight my paralysis I sometimes flick back and forth between reality and my dream, so I can see my room and have my eyes open but the creature from my nightmare is also in my room.
It’s genuinely petrifying – and has made me feel I’m actually being possessed, which in turn makes me feel I’m going crazy.
It used to last only a few seconds but recently it’s getting longer and longer. That’s terrifying when you’re conscious of it – you feel trapped inside yourself for a significantly long period of time (maybe 10 minutes?).
It’s horrible, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I wish there was a real cure so I never had to go through it again. The best I can do is try and avoid technology before bed and make sure my bedtime is a set time every night to give me routine.
– Submitted by bethw4636742d0
I get sleep paralysis four to five times a year. It happens mostly when I fall asleep during the day. I have vague, non-specific dreams, usually involving threat or danger. It’s accompanied by a feeling of extreme dread which then escalates into outright terror.
I tend to have auditory hallucinations. The voice will be clear and I’ll hear it as if someone is standing right next to me. I know I’m asleep but the voice is real. Sometimes I also see a figure standing nearby.
I try to scream but can’t make a sound. I’ll try to run but can’t move. Somewhere in my mind I’m aware I’m asleep but I CANNOT wake up or move. I’m pinned down.
The only way to come round is to let the terror overwhelm me and then I slowly come to. I don’t wake up violently, thrashing, screaming, or sweating. I’m calm, but it takes me a couple of hours to feel normal again.
It isn’t the same as a nightmare. The feelings with sleep paralysis are profoundly intense but based on a non-specific threat. There’s no monster, no axe murderer, no terrible accident. Just you, alone with your fear and unable to escape it."
– Submitted by amyc4f0b157c0
– Submitted by aimeep464190504
I was living at home with my mum. I was unwell so I was in bed all day. My mum was home with me. I must have fallen asleep, as I never heard her open my bedroom door or walk across the room, but I felt her weight sit on the bed beside me.
I heard her pick up my cup of water as if checking if it needed refilling, and felt her brush the hair from my face. Then all of a sudden I was being choked. I felt hands around my neck.
I couldn’t open my eyes, as if they were glued shut, and I tried to raise my arms to break free but it was as if they’d been nailed to the mattress. I struggled to breathe and felt myself getting light-headed. Then all of a sudden it went, and I could open my eyes and move again.
My mum was nowhere to be seen. She was upstairs at the neighbour’s house.
– Submitted by rebeccajaneali
I once had a "Woman in Black" experience (after watching the film) where I woke with a heavy weight on my chest, and in the corner of my eye thought I could see someone at the end of my bed. The figure had a large hat and black veil hanging down over its face.
It started to stamp its feet and scream at me as if to get me to look at it (I’m assuming so that I would die like in the film). I couldn’t move, I was laid on my back with my head to the side, and remember trying to move to pick up a glass to throw at the figure, but my arms wouldn’t work.
When I came round I burst into tears – one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve had and I still to this day can’t sleep on my back. That was three years ago!
– Submitted by samm4252df6dc
– Submitted by lottie276
I'd woken up in my dorm room – it was a stormy night, around four in the morning, and still quite dark, though there was yellowish-orange light from a streetlamp outside. The window at the foot of my bed had been left cracked open and was banging in the wind. I got up to shut it and stumbled back to bed, lying on my right side facing the wall, with my eyes closed.
It began with tactile hallucinations – I felt as if a pair of slightly clammy hands with thick fingers were gently stroking my face, in particular my lips, eyes, and ears, and prodding at my mouth.
Eventually this feeling gave way to prickling pins and needles all over my body – and I felt very cold and buzzing, as if I were electrified, or covered in static shocks. At the same time, a heavy ringing began in my ears, very loud, and in an even tone. It was at this point I got the sensation that there was someone else in the room, very close to me.
I was able to open my eyes, and I felt this weight pressing down on the left side of my ribs and shoulder. The light from the street was blocked by shadow, and I realised the shadow had a solid form – a squat creature, with cat-like features and claws, though humanoid and compact.
It was about three or four feet tall, sitting on top of me. It had pointed ears, and pale yellow eyes, with no pupils – I couldn't distinguish its face beyond the outline and its glowing eyes. I knew it was a demonic force of some sort, and I tried to scream – I felt the air leaving my throat, but only heard a faint whimper.
I don't know how long this lasted, but eventually the apparition was gone and I was able to move. I got up and turned on my bedside light and sat up until dawn.
– Submitted by Emily Bergink via Facebook
I’ve had two experiences of sleep paralysis. The first time there were just different faces coming towards me… No bodies, JUST FACES! Terrifying.
The second time I had been having a vivid nightmare about being burgled and when I went into sleep paralysis I saw a man crouching beside my bed wearing a red checkered shirt who was brandishing a knife. I have never concentrated so hard on blinking.
The experiences felt like they lasted forever, but must have only been about a minute at most.
– Submitted by victoriaw34
– Submitted by stephm40df843f1
I’ve experienced sleep paralysis throughout my life. I usually hear voices, sometimes incomprehensible, but always creepy and threatening. It’s always been a woman’s voice (as a child, I was convinced a witch lived in my room as a result).
I get the feeling someone is in the room but I can’t see them and I can’t move. I once had the sensation of someone getting into bed beside me and pushing against me, which was terrifying.
I often get a strange tingling feeling throughout my body and a ringing in my ears, which feels awful. I always put these episodes down to nightmares until a couple of years ago I read about sleep paralysis and realised that’s what was happening.
– Submitted by natashas47b68317f
I have woken up countless times in the night to see a man standing in my room. Either it’s a bald guy or a guy wearing a fedora hat. It's the scariest thing imaginable.
– Submitted by LauraSnora