Of all of the times in our life, we are at our most vulnerable and helpless when we are asleep. There is nothing we can really do about this, as all lifeforms that we know of must do this, but it is a rather awkward time for us. We lie there, unaware of our surroundings, paralyzed by our own bodies, surrounded by darkness. It seems unsurprising that many spooky tales and strange phenomena have come to gravitate towards the evening hours and our nightly vacation from the physical world, when we surrender ourselves to the night. It seems that this is a time when there are things that can come to us, which step out of the gloom and seem to be no mere nightmare. These are the seemingly demonic entities that descend upon us in the comfort of our own bedrooms, and are worse than any bad dream.
One frightening report comes from the site The Paranormal Society, with a witness who claims this all began when he developed an intense interest in the occult, and spent hours feverishly reading about it. He claims that one day the atmosphere of his room started to change, the air feeling heavier by the day, the room imbued with an unnatural cold and darkness, even in the summer, and he would experience a strange sense of being watched that grew in intensity with each passing day. This apparently went on for around a year before it would graduate to the truly frightening. The witness began to notice at night a strange, circular shadow in the corner of the ceiling of his bedroom. At first he thought nothing of this anomaly, but night after night it seemed to grow larger, ever blooming out across that ceiling in an inexorable crawl outward and possessing an inky unnatural black. No matter how much he moved the furniture around the shadow was always there, and he could not figure out what could be casting this strange shadow. He would still try to rationalize it as having a mundane explanation, but then a terrifying experience would prove him wrong. The witness says of what happened:
It seemed to get a bit bigger. Confused, I moved some things around in my room, figuring again something in there was casting a shadow, to no avail. The shadow stayed the same, and although I was a bit disturbed by it, I figured there was a scientific reason for it -- something outside was casting the shadow -- and I would go to sleep like normal. Then, one night as I turned out the light and went to bed as usually, I noticed the shadow seemed bigger than normal. I repeat, this was a very strange shadow. It seemed to be "thicker" than a normal shadow, almost like a puddle of black coffee.
As I lay there, trying to fall asleep, but feeling very uncomfortable for some reason, I began to notice that with each opening and closing of my eyes, the shadow would loom larger and appear to be seeping toward me. I was frightened, of course, yet intrigued. It seemed the longer I kept my eyes closed, the quicker it would move toward me, but it would always stop right where it was whenever I opened my eyes.
At one point, the thing was at the foot of my bed. I opened my eyes to look at it, expecting it to pause there. At this point, I was becoming increasingly frightened. Instead of pausing, it began to "pour" toward me, and I felt the most unnatural empty, cold, hungry, evil I've ever felt in my life come from it. It was then and there I knew for sure in my heart it was a demon, and I knew that it had relation to the junk I was studying. I pulled the blanket over my head, switched on the Christian music station, and prayed like crazy.
This seems to have worked, as the demon departed, and it encouraged him to give up his pursuit of the occult as a result, after which he says the entity then left him alone and did not come back. He remains convinced that what he saw was an actual demon, that came for him as a result of his dabbling in the arcane. Another bedroom encounter that is just as frightening was experienced by a commenter “RhythmSnail” on Your Ghost Stories. He claims this happened in Perth, Western Australia, when he was living with his mother in a home that had apparently had a rather violent history, although his mother would never tell him what exactly that was or what it entailed. Over time he became convinced that he was constantly being watched by something from the shadows, and would occasionally catch fleeting glimpses of something moving or skulking about in the periphery of his vision, never seen head on. This happened for some time before one night he had an experience he would never forget, which began with him waking in the middle of the night to a room far more frigid than it should have been. The witness says:
I noticed that my door was wide open, and I didn't remember leaving it that way because I don't usually do that. My mum was fast asleep and my sister was staying at her dad's place for the night. To my horror, I saw a small figure watching me from the entrance of my room. It looked like a "dense" shadow. I'm not quite sure how else to explain it. Slightly propping myself up on one elbow, I spoke out my little sister's name thinking it was probably her (I thought maybe she had changed her mind and had been dropped off during the night). Then suddenly, the being rushed up to my bedside in the blink of an eye and moved alarmingly close to my face.
Terrified, I found myself staring into a face with no discernible nose or eyes, and a gaping wide mouth. Where its eyes were meant to be, were dark holes from what I can remember, anyway. I'm not too sure. My body froze in horror. Moments passed with just that creature and me in the room, "gazes" transfixed on each other's faces. Eventually, I was able to snap out of the frozen state my body had taken on in fright and I flailed and kicked at the thing until it suddenly dissipated with a blood-curdling sound that reminded me of an anguished scream of some sort. I heard it out loud and deep within my head, if that makes sense. It made my hair stand on end and my heart beat alarmingly fast.
To this day, I have no idea what it was. A demon of some sort? I don't know what it wanted. It was terrifying and every so often I catch glimpses of shadow-like people/creatures from my peripheral vision. Many times I've awoken from sleep from someone calling my name, and it is usually a man or someone who sounds a lot like me. Even when I'm not asleep, I sometimes hear whoever it is calling my name. And occasionally, I can feel something touching me that I can't see.
These sorts of frightening cases often seem to happen to witnesses who have just woken up to a completely alert state without any discernible cause, and that same can be said of our next account, which comes from a Reddit user called “P3rspective.” He says he woke up suddenly and without warning in the middle of the night to see something there with him in the room. He explains of the strange encounter:
I was lying in my bed and remember sitting up and seeing 3 figures standing in my room with a dim lit blue light coming from somewhere that illuminated them. I don't remember what exactly they said, or rather, he said, cause the one in the middle was speaking directly to me. I remember his mouth opening in a very inhuman way, with the jaw extending further than it should be able to. Their mouth, and eyes, were black, not like, solid back, but a smoky type of black, so sorta grey, but you could still recognize teeth and such.
I remember them saying something about them coming in a few days for something, I don't remember what it was exactly. I then remember passing back out, and waking up, actually waking up, and seeing some dark form dart across the room and hover directly over my bed (my bed is in a corner, so it was sitting/hovering between the wall and I, about 4-inch gap at the time). I then felt a very, VERY intense sense of dread and heaviness throughout my entire fiber and being, and remember feeling this for a few minutes while it was just sitting there, my back turned to it.
We also have the case of Reddit user JllFucherina, who says this happened one Christmas Eve when she was only 12 years old. She similarly woke suddenly with a start, already in a state of readiness and without any grogginess or sleepiness. She says of her unsettling experience:
I woke up suddenly and fully alert. I was laying on my back and when I opened my eyes they met another set of eyes. Outside sitting in the tree beyond the fence was what I can only describe as a demon, it's fully fixed on me and not moving. The eyes reminded me of a cat's, huge with elongated pupils, yellow and very iridescent. The body was not large, pretty lean, and dark scaly skin. It was sitting with its legs pulled up to its chest, kind of crouched. This visual has stayed with me so vividly for my entire life. Over twenty years have passed and I can still see it like it was right in front of me.
I felt scared and threatened inside of myself. We maintained eye contact for what felt like a very long time, and I don't remember breaking eye contact, saying anything, or seeing it move. It seemed like I just fell back to sleep at some point but kind of doubt that's how it really went. I wonder if I was hypnotized sometimes. I woke up the next day and remembered it immediately. I knew, just knew that it wasn't a dream, it was far too real.”
To make this particular case even scarier, she claims that she now passes out every Christmas Eve at approximately the same time as she had this terrifying encounter. Why? Who knows? It is interesting to note how many cases like this have happened to people who were children or very young at the time and remember it so vividly well into adulthood, as if children have minds that are more malleable and susceptible to perceiving these outlandish entities. Another case involving a younger witness happened to a commenter on Ghost Village, who says she was only around 8 or 9 years old when this happened, and she explains:
I was sleeping in my grandma's bed, when I woke up in the middle of the night cold. I look out the bedroom door into the kitchen and saw this manly figure. I assumed it was my dad, but then I saw what I thought was long hair. It was like a shadow, black, but like outlined in a glowing white, and it had red eyes. I was scared to death, and afraid it would see me (it was looking the other direction, straight on as if looking at or for something) I went under the covers and tried to fall asleep. The next morning my sister told me that that same night she felt an uncomfortable presence in the house and then I told her about what I saw. My dad being a skeptic said I was dreaming and tired, but man, I was WIDE awake. and my mom's side of the family has had numerous paranormal experiences so she believed me.
There are countless other similar cases like these, far too many to cover all of them here, and they all leave us struggling to understand just what could possibly be going on here. The seemingly most rational explanation is that these people are experiencing what is known as “sleep paralysis,” also called the more ominous sounding “Old Hag Syndrome.” It is basically a condition in which the sleeper wakes in a half-dream state, with the mind active and awake yet the body still under the influence of sleep and the body’s chemicals that keep us immobile while sleeping. It is caused by an interrupted or dysfunctional REM cycle, the period of sleep in which we dream, and the result is that we experience a state between wakeful lucidity and a nightmare, compounded by the fact that it is often accompanied by being utterly helpless and unable to move. This is not some rare disorder, as it is estimated that between 25 to 50 percent of the population will experience this at least once in their lives, and the results can sometimes be extremely vivid and horrifying. One commenter on Thought Catalog says of his frightening experiences with sleep paralysis:
I have a few different “sleep paralysis demons.” 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.
It reads very much like the other reports of these supposed demons, and this is somewhat usual for sleep paralysis cases. Yet, many people who have experienced these terrifying demonic night visitations insist that they were fully awake at the time and able to move, even getting up to walk around. Even people who suffer sleep paralysis and know what that is will have experiences that they are sure are different, such as a witness on Reddit called "JackmanB," who says:
I swore it was wearing like a hood even though it was shadowy and it's shape was ominous (but obviously humanoid). I couldn't tell much else about its appearance because it was dark and because my reaction to fear like that is not to stare intently at what I'm looking at. I watched as the shadow figure slowly skirted the outside of the room before it cut inside to be standing right alongside my bed, in front of my face. Here's what it did: It opened the door to my room and then shut it, and then it kind of hung out near the door at the edge of the room for a hot minute. At that point I started breathing loudly and unevenly (which was the only thing I could do) to try and scare it away.—Just some background, I get sleep paralysis semi-often, usually attached to naps, but never before have I experienced anything resembling this.
While some cases like this might be attributable to sleep paralysis, can they all be so easily dismissed? If some of these cases are not sleep paralysis then what could they be? There are many ideas on this. One is that they are actually demons, coming to us when we are at our most susceptible, in that borderline between sleep and wakefulness. Another idea is that they are some sort of interdimensional interlopers, invading the sanctity of our most vulnerable time for purposes we may never understand and perhaps are never meant to. They could also be aliens, Shadow People, ghosts, or even just flat out tall tales, but this is a widespread enough phenomenon that it seems to deserve some consideration and discussion.