The Nightmare: A New Documentary About Sleep Paralysis

The Nightmare is a new documentary that delves into the horrifying world of sleep paralysis, a strange phenomenon that leaves sufferers immobilized in their beds, awake but unable to move. They also, sometimes, experience terrifying hallucinations of demons and shadow people, among other things.

While I’ve never experienced any of this myself, the trailer here is certainly unnerving.

One commenter on Reddit, who saw the documentary at SXSW, mentioned that the film isn’t so much about why sleep paralysis occurs, but rather how it feels. It highlights eight individuals who suffer from the haunting affliction, and recreates their disturbing experiences in, from what I can tell, a pretty dramatic way.

Directed by Rodney Ascher (who has experienced sleep paralysis himself), The Nightmare is set to release on June 5, 2015.


Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.


  1. you are lucky if you haven’t experienced sleep paralysis before!! It’s so scary! I first learnt about Lucid Dreaming some years ago when I was looking for some info about this happening to me. I even thought there was something wrong with my body or neurological system when I was a child. It’s freaking disgusting. I think this must be how a recently dead person feels when can’t move his/her ex-body, just before the soul sets free.

    1. Sometimes in my dreams, I feel the I’m in a box like a coffin and I can’t move. In some manner I know the I’m dreaming, and I trying to role with force to wake up myself until I get up.

  2. I finally watched this, it’s not too in depth but it is interesting. My question is, why has the hat man become an archetype that sufferers of sleep paralysis see?
    Say, if someone had never heard of the hat man or shadow people before, why do they see them? Particularly a man in a hat?
    Any theories, Rob?

    1. I actually touched on that idea briefly in one of the first posts I ever wrote here ( http://www.strangerdimensions.com/2011/10/28/the-hat-man/ ). Not in any way that answers the question, but it’s definitely something I’ve wondered, myself.

      I honestly have no idea, though.