It’s a worldwide phenomenon: sleep paralysis. It’s probably one of the most terrifying things everyone experiences at one point in their lives. Some people believe that sleep paralysis is actually a spiritual attack by a witch or demon. Although the evidence to support this theory is weak, there is one common element: an unshakeable feeling that something is lurking in the corner of your eye. Sleep paralysis is when your body is asleep but your conscious is wide awake. If you can somehow wake up from it before something goes bump in the night, consider yourself the lucky ones. We’ve compiled a list of stories from people around the world who have experienced sleep paralysis and encountered something terrible in the dark.

For more information, check out witch hag syndrome.

Coarse language, violent imagery and more ensue. You have been warned.


1. String97bean
I get this on a regular basis, but mostly when I nap, not when I go to sleep for the night. I have never experienced the “demon”, but the experience is terrifying. I can see everything (or at least it seems like I can) but I am unable to move. It feels like if I don’t make every effort to move I will be stuck like that forever. I usually have to start by wiggling a toe, or a finger, and then keep that momentum going until I fully wake. It takes an extreme amount of effort and if I don’t keep the effort constant, I have to start all over again.

2. BumpStartBroomstick
I have a few different “sleep paralysis demons” and one sort of “sleep paralysis guardian angel”. The demon ones are the usual shadowy figure standing over me or by my bedroom door. The worst one was while I was lying on my side with my back to the door and it felt like someone got into bed behind me. Under the covers and put their arm round my waist. Then it felt like they were cuddling into me and I could feel breath on my neck. It felt like they cuddled me for about half an hour.

All this time I’m trying not to show that I’m panicking because it feels like I’m getting cuddled by a skeleton with claws. It was only about the second, maybe third time I’d had sleep paralysis, so I nearly had a heart attack when this thing feels like its moving in closer to kiss me behind the ear. Worst of all it whispered “Not yet. You’re not ready yet. I’ll come back when you are.” To me it sounded disappointed and excited. It felt like it was silently telling me it meant that it was coming back when I was about to die. Scared the fucking shit out of me.

My “sleep paralysis guardian angel” was a weird experience. I’d been getting sleep paralysis on and off for about 18 months by this point so I could usually tell straight away when it was happening. At first I thought it was the usual demon things beside my bed, but when I looked properly I realised I could clearly see a man kneeling next to my bed smiling at me. It wasn’t a creepy smile. More like a parent coming in to check on their kid. He looked like he was dressed in a 50s style suit and hat. He didn’t say anything. Although I got the sense he was letting me know everything was alright and he’d look after me.

Night-Terrors3. SneakyPieBrown
Before I learned to cope with it I’ve seen quite a few awful things. Horror films don’t really do anything for me anymore because I’ve already seen the most terrifying things I already could. Here’s a few things I remember off the top of my head:

A little girl in the corner of my room staring at me. Then, without notice, she shrieks and runs up and starts choking me.

A large dark figure, kind of a human silhouette, emerging from the foot of my bed and staring down at me.

Something banging and scraping on my bedroom door. I keep it locked at night because I have had ones where it opens by itself. EDIT: No, the door isn’t open when I wake up. It only opens in the dream.

My bedroom door opening by itself followed by dark figures coming into my room.

The earliest one I can remember is with my mother in the room and she’s sitting on my bed, her face morphs into a demon like thing.

Many others.

4. IFartMeat (Editor’s note: Charming)
The worst thing is when you try to fight or call for help. Your voice doesn’t work and your body will not respond. You just feel helpless. Ugh, I need to stop trying to remember these things. I’m getting chills.

I’ve gotten mine so frequently that I don’t even freak out about it anymore. It’s still scary, but not nearly as much as it used to be. The first few hallucinations were awful:

A little creature eating something on my floor. I blink. Now he’s right next to my face chewing on something and whispers “Remember me?”

An old lady standing over my head and whispers “Darling…” I told my mom about that one and she asked if I thought it was my late grandma? No. It was evil.

The hallucinations are always evil. Even if I can’t see anything, there is an overwhelming presence in the room and it is always evil. I can’t move. I’m stuck. The evil is pulling on me deeper and deeper. I can’t cry for help. I can only breath heavily as fast as I can. Hoping someone will hear me breathing so loud and will come shake me out of it. I try and move a finger. Come on finger! Why won’t you just move?! It’s going to get me!

5. Alex_Pee_Keaton
Mine are a lot more evil than that and usually not on my body. My last experience was a demon in the corner of my room (behind me where I couldn’t see) speaking some sort of gibberish.

Other times it’s things walking toward me totally Jacob’s Ladder style as in they move toward almost hyper speed but very slow and their legs don’t match their movements. A lot of the time if it isn’t a demon, it’s someone I know, but they’re possessed. Often laughing at me.

6. Tiggertandy
Never realized this is what I had experienced until I started looking around here. Worst experience I had was with a devil like creature. Red and black with huge teeth that sat on me. It felt like it was suffocating me. It just kept pushing on my chest and I was terrified. I couldn’t move or scream. What made it really bad was after I got up my husband woke up startled and told me something had been pressing on his chest trying to kill him.

7. Heroineasinladyhero
I am Mexican, and my good friend’s mom has a story about this that chills me to the bone every time. In her village in Mexico, one night she woke up to a dark demonlike figure sitting on her chest and she could not get up. Fearing for the safety of her young son who was awake playing in the room at the time, she told him: go to the neighbor’s house and ask for help! And he (not seeing the demon) said okay and went next door. The demon then turned back to my friend’s mom and started to taunt her. She just swore at it and tried not to be afraid until finally it stood up, climbed off, and walked out through the walls. She went outside to go to the neighbor’s house where her son was but stopped to see the whole village standing outside their doors with baseball bats and kitchen knives. She asked what happened and they all claimed to see a dark figure walk straight through their walls through all the houses down the street. No one ever spoke of it again. But on a funny note, her son had forgotten why he was sent to the neighbor’s house and just told them he was hungry and they fixed him a snack.

8. Curlybacon
I’ve had cycles of sleep paralysis for as long as I can remember and regularly see two different ‘demons’. The hallucinations are visual, auditory and you can physically feel them at times. They have become more vivid as I’ve gotten older.

One is a tall dark hooded figure that always stood at the bottom of my bed.

My scariest experience with him was when I woke up one night with sleep paralysis and the big spooky hooded bastard was standing right next to me. His hood was covering his face but I knew he was watching me and I knew he was evil.

The second one I see is a smallish gremlin type creature that’s got pointy features and is a browny green colour (very similar to the one in the painting but I had seen him before I had seen the painting or even knew what sleep paralysis was). He normally appears when I’m on my back and restricts my breathing and speaks in a weird whispery language.

I woke up once and he was crouching in the corner of the ceiling. When I looked at him he turned his head and looked right at me and smiled.

I woke up on my side once and I could hear him behind me, speaking in his freaky language and then I felt his snake like tongue going in my ear and making a slithery noise.

I can’t tell how glad I am when I found out that there was a scientific explanation for it and that I wasn’t actually being haunted.

I can’t explain how so many people with sleep paralysis see similar demons and how we all just know that the things we are seeing are evil, but it’s something I choose not to think about too much for the sake of ever being able to sleep again.

9. PlumWithAMachineGun
I’m with you, I get mine almost nightly. It was scary at first, not being able to breathe. I always hear this buzzing almost like static sound, but it feels like it’s rattling my brain. Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning..I imagine the same as it would feel if you were free falling down a dark tunnel. I can open my eyes and see, but I can’t move, feels like something is pushing down on my chest. Occasionally I have heard evil sounding voices and seen evil looking creatures.

I too have learned to snap out of it with breathing…sometimes it’s not so easy though. I use to try to tense all my muscles up to snap out and it’s true you have to make yourself sit up or stand up right away. Otherwise you’ll slip right back into the paralysis state…at least in my case I do.

Scariest experience…I had my daughter sleeping next to me. I went into my sleep paralysis and heard children laughing, then a demonic type laughter. I opened my eyes and my daughter was facing towards me and her face started to take shape into some sort of horrid evil demonic face. I quickly closed my eyes and started my breathing process to snap me out of it.

So yes, I’ve had some scary experiences. But now that I’ve had it so often for so long I’ve learned how to maintain it.

10. Jordan V.
One of my most terrifying sleep paralysis experiences occurred a year or two ago. All I remember is waking up and knowing what was happening. I usually try to ride it out knowing eventually I’d fall back asleep, but this time, that wasn’t happening.

I felt like there was something hovering above me, but because I was paralyzed I couldn’t open my eyes. I started panicking because this was the longest I’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis.

All of a sudden I hear this wretched cackling. Remember in Alice in Wonderland when Alice falls down the rabbit hole? As the cackling grew louder, I felt like I was spiraling into a rather unpleasant rabbit hole, with no warped grandfather clocks or rocking chairs to catch me. I felt dizzy and my mind felt heavier. I don’t remember what happened after that—I must have fallen asleep. But maybe it was for the better?

Have your own sleep paralysis story to share? Comment below!

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