What Is It Called When You Feel Like Something Is Holding You Down While You Are Sleeping?

I can’t remember the name of it, but it has to do with the feeling of being held down in your bed and you can’t break loose or scream.

That happened to me last night and it is a terrifying experience.

I remember waking up and looking at my bedroom clock at three in the morning. I heard foot steps going across the floor and a bumping against the bedroom door. All of a sudden something was on me and pressing me down, but nothing was there. I tried to yell, but nothing would come out, or it seemed not to.

The next thing I knew I woke up screaming and realized it was a dream, but it was so real and it was so scary!

Asked by Nancy Abbott

34 Comments
  1. Hey Nancy,

    I think you call it a nightmare. What have you been watching on tv, or reading on the net?

    The sensation you wanted is called ‘sleep paralysis’ but that happens just as you wake up, not in the middle of your dreams. Our minds wake up just before our bodies do, and it can feel like something is holding us down .. but the body can’t move until the mind connects properly. It might feel like forever until that happens, but its usually only a moment, or minute, or two.

    And no cheese before bedtime. I’m told it can cause nightmares .. hmm.. no pizza? LOL

    We love you,
    Love & Peace
    Ama

  2. Sleep paralysis is a little tricky. Scientifically it’s described as a phenomenon that occurs when you are either going to sleep or waking up. Either way you feel like you have a huge weight being pushed down on you and you can’t move, or talk, or do anything to free yourself. Some consider it a sleep disorder but it’s a lot more for people who experience it. Some say it’s like being awake and frozen in your nightmare. When it first happened to me, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I had woken up at 3 in the morning but it was cold for July. I saw a dark shadow at the foot of my bed reaching out to me and I was unable to move, or scream out, or even make a rational thought, but I was awake because once I saw the shadow move I jumped out of bed,and I shouted Jesus and ran to the living room. I don’t know about personal beliefs but whenever something like this happens to me, calling out to Jesus has always helped. I hope you find help for this issue.

  3. Ama, what was so weird was that in the dream I just woke up and looked at the clock and it was three am, before I heard the footsteps and felt the pressure of being held down. When I did wake up and realized it was a dream [nightmare]It was three am. I probably had been watching something scary on T.V., but I don’t remember any one show in particular. I have read about the sleep paralysis before, but that was the first time it happened to me. It is really scary and I hope it doesn’t happen again.
    I don’t remember what I ate that night, but pizza sounds good! lol

    Nancy

  4. You know what I wonder, Nancy – if we aren’t feeling our own spirits returning to our bodies and settling in. We would still not be able to move until they did .. so perhaps that’s the ‘held down’ feeling? I have no real idea, its just that that is a common theme to most experiences that people remember. Once the mind/body(spirit?) connection is remade the people can move again.

    Pizza is good. I had the last piece just before bed last night, but don’t remember any weird dreams. LOL

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  5. hi Nancy!
    I know what u mean..i thought it was sleep paralysis at first, well whatever it is, it indeed is very irritating and scary. feels as though its happening for real until u wake up confused and full of sweat(in my case). um…but i dont think its as serious as we think it is(at least for the first few seconds after we wake up hehe). Anyways, hope it doesn’t bother u any soon again! sweet dreams :)

  6. This entity is called ” Bakhtak” in Persian language. He or she is a type of demon. When he sites on the chest in the sleep you can’t to move your limbs or get up of your bed. There is a funny story about him. The common people say, If you can to take his nose when he has sat on your chest he will be a captured entity in your hand and he has to obey you and accept to bring you what you wish. In this situation you can request him to bring you a lot of Gold ( I am not sure about this story but I know demons are aware about the locations of many hidden treasures under the grounds but they hate to talk about them to humans that even are their friends)

  7. Hi Mans,

    That’s an interesting story. There’s an Irish legend about the Leprachaun that says if you can capture him he’ll tell you where he’s hidden his pot of gold, and you can have it in exchange for his freedom. The Leprachaun, in my understanding, is an elemental being, not a demon or daemon, so I wonder if the entity you described is also an elemental, rather than something nasty. These beings are real and live all over the world under different names.

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  8. Hello Ama
    Those are very similar stories but with the different characters’ names. I myself haven’t the accurate information about this entity and what I said was the quote of old people. I will research about this subject in some Persian websites which publish the paranormal matters

    Good day

  9. I had a very similar frightening experience as what you encountered. It has been 5 years since my last encounter but this is how it goes. I would be sleeping and all of sudden I would feel this presence to start to creep and hover over me, I would try so hard to wake up and I could here myself screaming trying to get anybody in my household to realize I was having a bad dream to be awaken. But nobody came to me, it would eventually go away or I would somehow wake up. Everytime this happened I would pray so much so that it would go away. The weird thing about it is that I felt it coming on, but I could help to get up before it did happen. The last experience which was the most terrifying, happened when I was pregnant with my son. I heard the footsteps coming from the hallway, at first I thought it was my husband leaving to work, but then I realized he had already left. I was sleeping and heard the footsteps in the hallway and this time was the first time I saw the dark tall figure come over to the side of my bed and I had my crossed around my chest and it grabbed me by the hands and I felt it’s face come up to mine, and I just remember saying “oh God help me” I remember the desperation in that saying and within seconds it was gone. I woke up and sat on the middle of my bed. A scary feeling, I did research on sleep paralysis it says that it has something to do with the brain waking up before the body and it helps when you can wiggle your toes, fingers anything small until you can wake your body up. Now, the tall dark figure, that’s still a mystery.

  10. I have had sleep pralysis many, many times, beginning when I was about 8 years old. However, I never felt I was being held down; I would just wake up, unable to move.

    Then, about a year ago, I began having it often (about twice a week). I would try to call out to my husband, who was sleeping beside me, but couldn’t speak loud enough to get his attention, so I would finally wake myself up by moving my fingers and/or toes. After several weeks, I was able to make a noise loud enough to wake my husband up and he would gently shake me awake.

    After weeks of this, I woke up one night and saw a person wearing a cloak with a hood, a big hump on her back, walking away from me. (She looked like a very old woman dressed like a monk.) I closed my eyes and opened them, and I saw the cloaked person walking away from me again. Each time I closed my eyes and opened them, I saw the same thing over and over again (as if I were seeing it on an old black-and-white, snowy TV screen).

    I read all I could find on this, and I learned that this has been happening all over the world for thousands of years. They call it “The Old Hag Syndrome.” They talk about the old hag sitting on people, holding them down. However, I never felt that anyone was holding me down; I just woke up, unable to move. But after seeing the cloaked person walking away from me that night, I’m wondering if she HAD been holding me down and I didn’t know it.

    After I saw the cloaked person, I began taking sleeping medication and praying each night, asking God to put a circle of white light around myself and my loved ones and asking Him to keep the demons out. And, although I am not Catholic, I bought a rosary and began holding it in my hand as I prayed.

    It has been about two years since all of the above happened to me, and it has never happened again. I hope and pray it doesn’t. It is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to me, and, believe me, a LOT of supernatural things have happened to me in my lifetime, i. e., shadow people, white-cloaked beings, and the jabbing me in the arm one morning (which we spoke about sometime ago on this site).

  11. The creature is called “the sleepy hag
    Here is a very good picture of it but its a shadow one

  12. Hi Anonymous,

    Please make sure you fill in at least a first name and email in the appropriate boxes before commenting. I had to delete the link to your picture. If you would like to include a picture, I believe there’s a way to upload one onto the site, without including the link in your message. Best to do it that way. Also the picture was a drawing, but not a very accurate one, in my opinion. Anyway, upload it correctly and the owner of the site, CareTaker, can decide if he thinks its suitable or not.

    BTW, I’ve heard the entity called the ‘night hag’ but never the ‘sleepy hag’.

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  13. I think this may be a good reason to say our prayers before we go to bed.

  14. I a South African Zulu lady and here at home if you have such experience they you were attacked by a tokoloshe (Zombie) or demons. I have had this bad experience many times as a kid and an adult where i would feel like something or someone is seating on top of me each time i pray it goes away but the past three days was worse. my husband left early as i was still sleeping, i heard him driving away but soon after that i think i heard steps in the house coming in my bedroom and it felt like someone was standing on my bedside leaning for something over my head, i started praying and i regained power to push my blanket to look who was there but there wasn’t and anyone. following day i came back home from church tired and fell asleep on my seating room floor while watching TV and again i felt something trying to pull me down, i quickly woke up and went to sleep in my kids bedroom, again same thing happen again i moved to my bedroom.again i heard footsteps going 2 the toilet & heard someone pee & soon after that i felt like something was entering my body several times i pushed it out & begin praying until it left when i woke up it felt like while i was sleeping & dreaming i had another dream ( dreaming dreaming) if that English is acceptable, again i thought it was my husband but he was not in the house this time i woke up terrified and scared to be in the house alone. Im scared this thing will pull me down forever one day. as it was entering my body was making movements of who is having a seizure my mouth was oozing saliva.This morning as we were still sleeping i heard someone calling out a name and it sounded like that person calling out a name was between my husband and myself and i felt a terrifying sensation and i woke & it was not time to wake up for work, i fell asleep again & same thing happen, could not go to sleep again after that….i’m not sure i want to fall asleep again.

  15. I’m a male, 46 and often sleep downstairs on the couch as my son (5 years old with autism) usually sleeps on my side of the bed.

    Probably about two weeks ago I was dreaming I was being held down. I was on my side facing towards the couch and my mid to lower back felt like it was being pushed and held by something. I woke very soon after thinking it felt kinda real, but thinking it had to be a dream. When I woke I actually looked behind me almost expecting someone to be there like they were just playing around with me.

    Yesterday morning I had the same pushing down into my back feeling. I more strongly fought against the resistance and woke up although I felt like I was nearly awake when it happened. I was eventually able to move, and I swear I looked behind me almost immediately as I woke up expecting someone to be there and again NOTHING.

    I don’t believe in ghosts or paranormal stuff, but it’s an odd feeling being held down while on the edge of sleep.

    For the record I use to have a sleep disorder where I would have seizures for between 20 to 45 minutes at a time… and those would sometimes happen while I walked in my sleep.

  16. Hi Eric,

    Not believing in ghosts doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and can’t see you. You might even be in discussion with one just before you woke up, or they could simply be leaning on you to make you feel either uncomfortable, or just plain scared.

    There is also a problem called ‘sleep paralysis’ where your mind wakes up before your body does, and you cannot move for a moment (which can feel like longer). The sense there is something sitting on you, often when you are lying either on your front or back, is not unusual, nor is a feeling that whatever it is is very evil .. but once you wake up properly, and can move again, you find nothing in the room.

    As to who or what was pushing, grabbing or leaning on you .. do you remember what you were dreaming about just as you woke up? That might give you a clue.

    There is no mention of seizures of any kind connected to sleep paralysis, or being haunted. I hope you are completely recovered from them.

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  17. Peace be with you all! May I suggest to please pray pray pray throughout your day everyday,talk to HIM about it and before you go to sleep imagine you are in Heaven with your loving Heavenly Father, running to HIM and hugging HIM as your dad, sitting with HIM in the Supreme Sanctuary of His Kingdom as HIS child.
    Which I would suggest to anyone to do anyway, with or without these experiences.
    I have had this experience a few times in my life, once I actually felt as something was trying to pull me off the bed by sliding by body by the ankles and each time I think of Jesus and it goes away, straight away. I believe these experiences are ungodly entities trying to suppress ones life; mind,body and soul. Mainly spiritually though, for why would one just think of Jesus and it goes away? I tend to think in the spiritual of/in things generally as a whole anyway. Hope this helps…
    Have a Blessed night in His Love & Peace

  18. The same thing happened to me but as i looked from the corner of my eye . I could see a dark shadowy figure on top of me. I wound scream but nothing would come out. I started to pray and was released . it was at 3:15 am. I thought i was dreaming but i was awake. Very scary.

  19. Please tell me if this is sleep paralysis or something else. One night I was asleep on my back and I felt someone sitting on my chest. I open my eyes and saw a white lady with light brown hair sitting on my chest. She had an angry look on her face and she was holding me down by my arms. I tried to call out my husband name but I couldn’t speak. I could see him though. So I closed my eyes and continued to scream until I woke up.I can vividly remember this experience because it just happened and I think about it every day. I’m not sure of the time but I do wake up every night at or around 3AM. Also what is the significance of 3AM? Everyone seems to have their experiences around that time.

  20. I’ve heard that 3 am is the “witching hour”

  21. Hello Kendra,

    To answer your last question ..

    Between the hours of 3.00am and 4.30am is the time when the spirit of a person is most likely to be either far away from, or leave, their living body. This is why nurses go around waking up patients considered to be in high risk of dying at this hour. (Fact .. I learned that from my mother who was a nurse). Waking up often pulls the spirit back into the body very quickly, which can cause feelings of anxiety.

    While it is called the witching hour, by some, you have to consider that 3.00am my time might be anything up to 22+ hours different from your 3.00am .. I am in Australia. It’s a spooky name, but in the long run doesn’t signify much.

    It is well know that people go through various levels of sleep all night long, from very deep to very light, including dream phases where they can move a bit, and others where they might feel trapped and cannot move if they half woke up during that time. They might suffer from ‘sleep paralysis’ .. which is when the mind wakes up before the body does, and those few seconds of lack of freedom of movement can feel like forever, which is frightening. One of the cycles wakes the majority of people around 3.00am, some to the point when they remember it, and others just lightly awake and then they slip into sleep again. That’s normal. At the point of waking, the dream state might overlap with the waking mind, and so you see vividly, or experience, vividly, something you were dreaming about – thinking you were awake, when you actually really weren’t. Hence the feeling of having someone sitting on a person holding them down. This is also a well known phenomena. As you described it, they struggle in some way until they ‘wake up’.

    It could be described this way – in your dream state, or when you were still only part way returned to your body after astral travelling; your mind woke up but your body didn’t. You screamed .. fair enough, I probably would too .. but your body did not respond, and no sound came from your mouth. To explain the figure sitting on you .. it might well have been a ghost, another entity of some kind, or a projection of your mind to explain what you were feeling. I have one thought though .. did the lady look like you? Or like the way you wished you did? I have often wondered if our bodies wake as we are returning to them (slipping inside, much like a pillow into a pillow case). What did the room feel like after you woke? Did you wake your husband and tell him what you felt and saw?

    Sleep paralysis is a normal part of sleep. Visiting entities, angry or not, is also normal. The other thought is – whomever was hovering about as you woke might have actually been the friend you were chatting, or arguing, with while you ‘dreamed’ or astral traveled, who ‘walked you home’ in a sense (back to your body).

    I hope this helps,
    Love & Peace
    Ama

  22. Hi Joan,

    Why does thinking about Jesus help? Faith is a powerful protection. And dark entities believe in Jesus as Christ, even if the majority of the planet doesn’t. The Christ energy is there for everyone to use, thank heavens. We only have to ask.

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  23. Ama,

    Thanks for your reply to my post. To answer your questions. No the lady didn’t look like me. I’m a black young woman with dark brown hair. The Lady was white with light brown hair. She looked to may be in her late 50s. The room felt cold afterwards as my room always feels cold. I woke my husband up and told him what happened and he told me I simply had a bad dream and that I should pray and try to get back to sleep. So I did that and snuggled under him and put the covers over my head. Since then I can’t sleep very well at night as I’m afraid that may happen again😦

    Thanks
    Kendra

  24. Hi Kendra,

    Scroll to the bottom part of this website and you’ll find a link to White Light Shields. Learn them and use them. They are very effective for stopping things like that happening again.

    The instructions are on the Shields webpage.

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  25. I had a somewhat similar experience.

    But it happened to me three times, not exactly in a row, more like, once I forgot, it happened again. But each time in my dreams, and I do know that I’m dreaming because I’m a lucid dreamer, I was watching my dreams self doing what I usually do when I felt someone pressing against my neck.

    The first time this happened, I tried to wake up but my dream self warned me to just stay quiet and don’t move, it said, “He won’t hurt you if you don’t fight.” So I did as I was told and didn’t wake up, but I remember opening my eyes and seeing a dark shadow above me before it disappeared

    The second time I felt it, I actually fought it, and was trying to wake up when my dream self started yelling and saying to get it out of me. She was shaking violently, and I myself felt my own body shake when I felt this presence entering my body, it was cold, and I felt it pushing me out. But I pushed back and told them it was my body and they had no control over me. When I finally pushed the cold feeling away, my dream self crumbled to the floor and I woke up.

    The very last time, it happened a couple nights ago, but nothing scary happened. As soon as I felt the pressure against my neck again, I immediately woke up just as my dream self said, “He’s here again.” I honestly don’t know what this means, and it scares me. I know it probably is just night terrors because I have nightmares every night, but I’d just like someone else’s advice.

  26. I woke up and heard footsteps walking quickly over to my bed and then felt a presence and something held me down into the bed, I was very tingly and remember the times when I was a child and I would say I got scared enough to hear these voices (when I was 6 I hears voices in the house we lived in and when I was 11 I woke up and something hit me in the head and then I heard maniacal laughing running around the hallway outside the room) That was a long time ago and this is the first time in 20 years I’ve experience it. Once this presence released pressure I rolled over on my right side and then it attacked me again stronger and I was unable to move again and became very scared and my heart was pounding. I’ve always believed in spirits and something tells me the hotel I’m staying in has one. Sleep paralysis tells of this happening almost exactly as well, the feeling of being held down, hearing footsteps, all just as you’re waking up. Whatever it was it scared the fucking shit out of me. Not once but twice it came over me, hearing those footsteps was pretty fucked up. Side note, the microwave was beeping randomly last night like someone was pushing the numbers, my roommate heard it too. I’m not a big fan of this.

  27. This phenomenon has happened to me many times in my life, since I was a child. I am nearly 47 now. When I was going through alcohol detox it got worse and I was terrified to go to sleep. I had another episode last night, and I’ve been sober for 8 months. This one was the worst, and I felt short of breath and nauseated when I woke up. In my dream, my husband I both heard a noise. As he got up to investigate the source of the sound, I felt someone holding me down at my shoulders/chest. I was struggling to move, breathe, scream, cry out and could not move or make a sound. It seemed like a long time before I was able to realize that I was dreaming and it was not real. This last time I did not see a cloaked figure, but that is also a reoccurring image for me in this type of event. Normally it’s hovering near a window, door, or in the corner of the room near the ceiling. Scares the bejeezus out of me every time. I have heard this referred to as hypnagogic hallucinations as well as sleep paralysis. I’m sorry for those of you who have experienced this, I know how frightening it is.

  28. Hi Sara,

    Scroll down this webpage and follow the link through to the Michael Invocation and use it to first clear your energy, then say it again for your home. The instructions are on the webpage.

    I know sleep paralysis is incredibly frightening, and seems to last forever, but often it happens because our minds wake up before our body does. The Michael Invocation will remove any unwanted ‘visitors’ and if that is why this is happening (the ghost), then you shouldn’t have a reoccurance.

    Given the process you are going through (and congratulations and well done!), I would suggest you also check out the information on White Light Shields and use them for yourself and your home, to give you some peace of mind. They are very effective.

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  29. The other morning after my dad had left for work around 4:30am i had laid back down. As i was in my room laying down i could smell cigarette smoke almost the same smell of cigarettes my mom used to smoke before she passed away. I kept smelling it and was like should i get up or not. However i was all calm when i had smelled it. Then all of a sudden as i was laying on my side with my back against the door i felt this pressure on my left side of my body and side of face being pushed down into the pillow. It eased up and immediately it did it again. This stime when it eased up i yelled who are you and what do you want. Then after i said that i was held down again and this time a mans voice said something about him being 77 yrs old and then he mentioned my dogs name who was laying on the bed next to me. What was weird the dog never woke up. Immediately after he was done talking i yelled out for my mom. Well the next day it happened again but this time i could hear someone walking around outside my bedroom door. I just had this feeling that something was above me and after that my head was pushed down again. At first i couldnt move but afterwards i managed to fight back and lift my head up and once i broke the pressure i immediately said i command you in the name of Jesus Christ to leave my room at once. Nothing happens when my husband or dad is here but as soon as i am alone thats when it happened. I thought about having my house blessed but heard that if you do that it can also make things worse sometimes. I am scared to go to sleep in fear of being attacked again.

  30. Hi Billie,

    Has it happened since you commanded it to leave?

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  31. Yes it has happened again. Yesterday when I was laying down with my husband which he was asleep, I was starting to go to sleep but could still hear the fan in the room so i wasnt fully asleep yet. Well all of a sudden i felt this pressure on my head again. I couldnt lift my head, scream or nothing. While this is going on my husband was fully asleep. I managed to break free from the pressure. I woke up and went back to sleep. Again the same thing. This time i felt what was holding me down touch my arm and held it down but somehow i managed to bite that presences hand. I know weird but fighting with this presence i was doing everything to wake up. Well early this morning about 5am i was in my room with the door closed and out of no where this stuff my dad had on the shelf in the hallway came flying down and hitting the side of the garbage can. The noise from that had woke me up. Needless to say last night i only got a half hour of sleep.

  32. Hi Billie,

    I would suggest that you scroll down to the section called Pages and follow the link through to the Michael Invocation and go to the webpage, read the information, and use the Invocation to clear yourself and then your home. That should take care of the problem. If not, you can contact me directly from my website, which you’ll find by following the link bearing my name, and I will get the information from you there to clear your myself.

    Love & Peace
    Ama Nazra

  33. It happened to me last night around 3 I fell asleep but its like I felt some pressure on my bed but my body was losing hope to see what it was all of a sudden I couldn’t scream or see what it does but after a couple of mins it was gone but that night I didn’t pray becauss I was sick but it is really scaring especially when you sleep alone and you don’t have noone to hold on too but I have Jesus in my heart and if demons want to come near me I will exhalt the name of Jesus and they will flee in the name of Jesus Christ my lord.

  34. The other night I was having some very strange dreams and around 8am or so I felt what was like a person laying on the lower half of my body, it felt heavy. As I was now awake I was scared so I spoke that I am not afraid of you ! After I said that the weight seem to dissipate, however I felt that numb tingly feeling throughout my body. How would you describe what has happened. I told someone at work about it, and they said it was the devil. 😳

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