Dreams are fascinating aren’t they? When I’m not going through bouts of insomnia I have vivid, crazy dreams that feel totally real, I’m never aware I’m dreaming.
I’ve experienced what I would call mild sleep paralysis for years but this year I had a few extreme experiences of it, so when I heard about this film, I was intrigued.
The Nightmare is an American documentary that focuses on sleep paralysis and is every bit as creepy as you might imagine.
Various sufferers discuss the different ways sleep paralysis affects them in a series of talking head segments. The filmmakers use reconstructions to show the audience what these people hear and see during an episode.
Dark human-like figures, sounds, lights and strange voices are all common to people who experience sleep paralysis and what’s more interesting is that these hallucinations can change depending on where you’re sleeping. For example you might dream of a shadowy figure at your own home but it changes to a more undefined shape with different attributes when you stay at a friends house.
It’s also interesting that so many of the eight people can remember these episodes happening from a very young age. For a couple, it’s their first memory. It’s not surprising many believe this sleep disorder to be manifestations of ghosts, demons, aliens or just good old fashioned madness.
The documentary is fascinating and at times the visuals are really quite freaky but what the film lacks is any scientific viewpoint. Because I’ve experienced this phenomenon myself, I would have liked to hear what a specialist would have to say. That said, the people in the film haven’t had the best luck with doctors, who are quick to point out sleep paralysis can often be triggered by stress and so the extent of their advice is to make some lifestyle choices.
If you’ve got any experience of a sleep disorder you’ll no doubt find this to be an interesting film but even if you drift off to the Land of Nod in peaceful bliss you might just give yourself nightmares after watching this!
The Nightmare is now streaming on US Netflix.