“Sometimes I wish I had not woken up from a beautiful dream, and continued dreaming within sleep upon sleep until I become a dream itself. Because sometimes waking up is more frightening than a nightmare.”—Danny Castillones Sillada
Being forced awake in the middle of the night can be a traumatic experience. Sometimes things can take a turn and become horrifying, dejecting us into a terrified state that will leave a lasting impact—and sometimes it turns out just to be a cute little kitten. From blood curdling screams jarring people into the realm of reality to the most benign of accidental wake up calls, Reddit came through with some incredible answers when asked: What is the most horrific thing you ever woke up to?
While some of these stories are fun and light hearted, some of them take a turn for the worse, so proceed with caution and remember to enjoy life because you never know what is coming around the bend.
41. Tragedy In The Night
Woke up to my family panicking because my dad didn’t come home from work the night before. About an hour later a cop came to the door and told us he had died in a car accident. My dad sometimes went out after work with his friends and came home late, so we didn’t think anything him being late.
40. Thanks A Lot, Cat
A bird flying straight at my face. My cat managed to rip a huge whole in the window screen, pull a bird through, and let it loose in my tiny studio. Thank goodness I had a direct door to the rooftop in my place or else it and the cat would have had to take over the lease.
39. Shh, I Got This
My brother in the living room with a knife. I wanted a glass of water, I asked him what he was doing and he told me to shhh. Someone was trying to break into our house. He saw them creeping in our yard through the front door, and minutes later they were jiggling the back door handle. Idk if I was more afraid of the person breaking in, or my brother being ready to stab them if they did. He had to have been 12 or 13 at the time.
38. Bed Bug Surprise
Probably bed bugs in an apartment I used to live in. I came home from work one night and passed out on my bed for a power nap. I wake up later to the sensation of something crawling on the side of my nose. I brush whatever was there off and look onto my bed sheets to see what had landed. It was a tiny little bug. I thought it was a tick at first, but nope.
There were a couple more trying to get back into wherever they were hiding. I started tearing my bedding off and looked down below the bed frame. Found like… a nest of them tucked down in by the wall next to the bed frame. Immediately took all my bedding, pillows, mattress, etc.. dragged em out back and threw it all in the dumpster our apt. building had and slept in the living room on a futon, well away from my bedroom, until I moved out.
Landlord couldn’t send in any exterminators. Said none wanted to take on the job because of how invasive bed bugs are. I didn’t buy that though.
37. Advancing Rebels
Sounds of gunfire when rebel terrorists tried to capture the city. I was wondering why nobody came to my room to wake me up for school and I was kinda glad about it till I found out why.
I was 16 in Zamboanga city, Philippines on September 2013.
36. Internet Mistake
Stayed home from school because I was sick with the flu, woke up to two SWAT team members with machine guns, one of them asking me if I lived there.
Turned out the neighbours were stealing our Internet and one of them has been accessing child porn, they thought it was my father who was the owner of the account and that he had a child sex trafficking situation in our basement. They were watching the house for months and weren’t expecting me to be home, just him. That was fun.
35. Be Careful With Lawnmowers
One time my mom woke me up to tell me that she was going to the hospital because she cut her finger off. (Lawnmower accident)
Thanks for the reminder!
34. In A Dark Desert Dorm, Accent In My Ears
Kid who lived in my dorm broke into my room in the morning got my guitar and my roommate and I woke up to him singing hotel California to us in a thick Vietnamese accent.
33. But It Is Better Than A Human Centipede
The feeling of a centipede biting my left arm and walking all over me.
That slimy cold feeling of a thousand tiny legs. Always makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I think about it.
32. Get Your Toes Outta There!
So in high school I went to a party with my then boyfriend and since we’d arrived pretty late, there was already a dude passed out on the floor. We drew on him, put his hand in some water, the standard lot, and went to sleep on the couch. We’re first woken up when he pours the glass of water on us, but whatever. We go back to sleep and he curls up on the opposite end of the sofa.
In the morning, I’m woken up by the feeling of the cold, bare toes of a complete stranger wiggling between my ass cheeks for warmth. Verifiably one of my worst morning wake-up calls yet and it’s been years.
31. Damn, Cuz, Don’t Scare Me Like That
My four-year-old nephew woke me up, crying and telling me that there was someone outside watching him. He quickly went back to bed, probably just a nightmare, but I was terrified and stayed awake for a couple hours longer.
30. Waking Up With A Burn
Was feeling thirsty while 90% still asleep, and reached over to the desk beside the bed where I kept a glass of water at night. Unbeknownst to me, my gf at the time was sitting at the desk getting ready for work. Instead of grabbing my glass of water, I grabbed the scalding hot curling iron sitting next to the glass. I was instantly awakened by the pain, screaming BURRRRRRN!!!!!! And knocked over the glass of water. Worst. Wake up. Ever.
29. Hungry, Hungry Ants
Went to a village in Tanzania to help build schools, and the couple who I was staying with owned ducks, chickens and rabbits that were kept in hutches. One morning I was woken up by a kid staying with us saying that something had happened to the animals, I went outside to see a giant ant colony almost at the end of its feast, all the animals were dead or were still being eaten.
Not sure if this belongs here or in r/natureismetal.
28. Learning Your Brother Is Mortal
When I was about ten years old, I woke up to my brother (who was about 19 at the time) rolling around on the bathroom floor groaning and crying. He had snot dripping down his nose and was clutching his stomach in utter pain.
It was the first time I ever saw him cry and show that he was really hurting, and that’s what really terrified me because he always made himself out to be this strong guy who never cried. Turns out his appendix burst and he had to be taken to the hospital.
27. Losing Your Breath Is Scary
I got pretty sick towards the end of high school. I was never hospitalized, but it was bad enough they were testing for just about everything. I could barely eat, and breathing hurt. I woke up at about 2 am one night completely unable to breathe.
Going from sound asleep to wide awake and not breathing was terrifying. I’m not sure how long it was before I drew a breath, and I’m sure it felt longer than it really was, but I was sure I was about to die.
26. Can I Haz Milk
A kitten gnawing at my nipple trying to get milk out, while staying at my girlfriend’s parents.
Clearly hadn’t been away from its mother long enough.
25. Drugs R’ Us
My piece of crap roommate was selling meth, without my knowledge. I woke up to screams of “POLICE SEARCH WARRANT.” They threw me off my bed, and then ripped my room apart, but found nothing, because I didn’t have anything.
24. Dogs Can’t Help Themselves
Dog bleeding all over the bed. She pulled her outer and inner stitches the day after being fixed.
After emergency surgery, new stitches, staples, and the cone of shame, she ended up doing great.
23. Building A Wall In Bed
I shared a hotel bed with a friend (the other two people in the room were a couple so they got the other bed). I woke up to a pillow wall between us. Of course I was worried that I tried to spoon him or something but it turns out I mumbled “F Off Jeff Gordon” and punched him in the back of the head.
22. Sorry, That Punch Wasn’t For You
SO rolled over and punched me in his sleep once, waking me up. When I said wtf he replied (still asleep), “sorry, I meant to hit someone else.”
21. Stinky Mouth
Back when I was in college I had a habit of sleeping odd hours because of the weird times I would do my homework in. I would go in around 7 in the morning and then come back around 1/3/5 and promptly pass out on the couch/my bed to take a nap. I got a lot of grief from my mother from napping too much (and I still don’t care, so there’s that).
At the time of the story I had been feeling under the weather since I went to class, so the nap was well-deserved. I opened the window a crack for fresh air and tucked myself in; my head where I usually put my feet right next to the window, what I did when I was sick.
I remember being in the depths of sleep when there came a tickling at my lips. Unconsciously, I rubbed at it with the back of my hand. Looking back that was easily the WORST mistake I’ve ever made.
In seconds my mouth was FILLED with the most INHUMANELY NOXIOUS TASTE imaginable. I spit, and GAGGED, jerking out of my blankets and wiping my face off. In the throes of my blind panic I see a tiny shape in the corner of my vision crawling along my blanket. My stomach dropped with horror and recognition. A CHINESE STINKBUG had made its way into my room via my window, and had sprayed INTO MY MOUTH when I touched it as it inched along my lips.
I CONSUMED mouthwash that day like I was a sorority girl doing Spring Break shots in Miami Beach. I scrubbed my teeth and tongue with my toothbrush so hard you would’ve thought I was trying to clean up a bloody crime scene. The aftertaste lasted for hours and my tongue was practically numb.
To this day I have a hard time blocking out the memory of the taste whenever I see one. People complain about the awful smell, but the taste is something to be feared…
20. Black Widow Wake Up Call
I’ve awoken to a black widow on my shoulder, but the worst was a centipede on my face.
19. Flying Roaches of Fury
A cockroach was flying the night before, didn’t know where it went. Something landed on my face, instantly waking me up. It’s a flying cockroach. Grossly enough, instead of throwing it away I grabbed it and crushed it using my hands due to panic. Fml good morning.
18. Childhood Fears
When I was a kid I woke up to the trees and sunrise aligning perfectly to make a perfect shadow of a T Rex on my wall. I don’t think I could ever be so scared ever again.
17. Yellowstone Death Throes
Two weeks ago we were backpacking in Yellowstone when we hear something snag a bird (Sandhill crane) in the middle of the night. I heard the thing screaming while it was being killed. Finally after it died I heard it get ripped apart. About an hour later I heard whatever hell beast it was walk right past our tent, give us a couple sniffs, and walk off.
16. Uh, Everything Okay Dude?
Couple years ago on a work trip I was sharing a room with a coworker, and I’m nothing close to a light sleeper, but this guy, literally woke up screaming like someone was breaking his knees or something, in seconds I was full awake and staring at him, he was sitting without moving, then he fell back into sleep again.
We changed to separate rooms next day.
15. Fire Alarms Don’t Always Do Their Job
Loud knocking and yelling in the hallway, followed by smoke. The unit down the hall was on fire and firefighters were evacuating us. The funny thing is, the alarms did not go off when they should have, yet there had been false alarms and tests every month at the most annoying times.
14. Starting The Day Gun In Hand
My house being broken into. My parents were at work so I was home alone, and I was woken up by the sound of someone trying to kick down the back door. I started scrambling to put clothes on (priorities, I know), but froze when the kicking stopped.
He tried to jimmy open my bedroom window next (my blinds were closed, so I could see his shadow, but he couldn’t see me). My stepdad at the time had been insistent that I know where the key to the gunsafe was, so being the moron that I was, I thought I’d grab the gun, go out the front door, walk around the house to the back, and chase him off.
What I didn’t know was that in the time it took me to get the gun, he had left the backyard to try the front door. I opened up the front door and found myself face to face with this dude. I got the gun up as fast as I could and yelled at the top of my lungs, and he just bolted down the street. After that, I had a major panic attack, so I called my mom so she could call the police. Not a good way to start the day.
The 2nd most horrific thing I’ve woken up to was my little brother pooping on my legos.
13. My Bed Is On Fire
When a circuit breaker trips, you can kind of hear it, and sort of hear the things near you power off. I think that’s what must have woken me up. Which was convenient, because the outlet next to my bed had set my mattress on fire.
12. Uh, Sorry About That
I was a little kid and had a dream that I was in an earthquake. When I woke up, my room was shaking. Like bed moving across the floor shaking. I ran into my parents’ room and woke my mom up. She told me it was just a dream and to go back to bed. I was scared to go back to my room bc if they hadn’t felt it, why was my bed bumping across my bedroom floor? It wasn’t against the wall when I went back in where it should’ve been. It was maybe nine inches away. I thought I was going insane or there were ghosts. I barely slept.
Next morning Mom apologized bc there had been an earthquake.
11. My Bad, Man
I was a kid at scout camp. We were working on our wilderness survival badge. For the last piece we had to build a fort and sleep in it.
While we were building the fort, the scoutmaster would come over to inspect and “give advice.” Things like, “you might want to make the opening a little smaller, that way the wolves and coyotes can’t get to you. It’s up to you though.” So we’d take it down and start over. Then “you may want to put more branch and leaf coverage so you don’t get crapped on by birds.” So we’d start over.
Finally, we decided to dig out what would be the inside and build around it. The opening was smaller, but opened up once we got inside. It was tall enough for us to sit up in. We had also covered the top so most of the sunlight was blocked.
We went to sleep.
I wake up in the middle of the night, branches close enough they scratched my nose and something warm dripped on my face. I tried to shuffle over to my buddy to wake him up to see what was going on, but he wasn’t there, but there was a growl. I rolled over and felt under me, and I felt fur. I froze. There’s a wolf in my fort and it ate my buddy. It was resting before eating me!! I pulled the fur harder and the growl got louder and I got hit in the face hard by something. So I rolled over, put my hands to the branches that were the ceiling of the fort. I took a deep breath, pushed with everything I could muster and rolled out of the way.
The fort collapsed on the wolf who hollered in pain. Who was actually not a wolf, but my friend who had just had me pull his hair and collapse a fort on him.
10. Laptop Go Bye Bye
My laptop smashed with my 3-year-old cousin laughing her ass off.
P.S. The laptop was soaked, we’re not sure if she pissed on it or poured a water bottle on it, she has an obsession with doing both.
9. You Look Just Like Me
I was house and pet sitting a few years ago for my grandmother. My grandfather had died a few months back and my grandmother had gone to visit her sister in Florida. I knew every inch of my grandparents’ house by heart, seeing as I’d practically grown up there.
It was a small house, and the hallway that led to the bathroom and bedrooms ended at a full length mirror that was there to make the hall look longer. So I went to bed in the guest room, and during the night I had to get up to use the bathroom. I turn my head, and there was somebody inches from my face, looking at me.
I was just totally overwhelmed with shock, too startled to even scream. Then I moved my arm a bit, and see the “other person” do the same. I realized there was just enough light for me to see the mirror, I was looking at my own goddamn reflection. I felt so stupid, but it still took me a while to stop shaking.
8. Tornado Coming
1. Ambulance lights outside of our house in the middle of the night & my mom waking me up saying, “Hey, we’re leaving to the hospital. Your father had a heart attack.”
2. During a particular hurricane a while back, I was asleep (must’ve been 3 am or so) when my phone’s emergency weather alert (super loud) went off with large text saying “Warning! Tornado sighting in your area. Take cover now!”
7. A Stranger’s Hand
I slept wrong on my arm and my hand went to sleep. My t-shirt had scrunched up exposing a lot of skin. I rolled over and a mysterious hand slapped my bare belly. I may have screamed.
6. Yeah, That’s Not My Roommate
I woke up to a police officer standing over my bed with a gun drawn once.
Apparently an arrest warrant was out for my WoW-addicted roommate who never left the house for a drunken bar fight. Not sure how they screwed up his identity that badly, not sure why they felt they needed to break into the house without announcing themselves (they claimed the back door was “wide open” when they arrived at 5am, despite clear crowbar marks on the jam), and not sure why they thought that three 23 year old engineering grad students in a fairly affluent neighborhood were threatening enough to warrant drawing their weapons…
5. Starting The Year In A New Home
Eight years old: Not being able to open my eyes. Had an infection or something and a bunch of gunk glued my eyelashes together. I thought I was blind.
19 years old: An empty apartment I’d never been to before. Got super drunk for NYE and got a ride to a different party with people I’d met that night. Woke up while they were out eating and remembered nothing. Looked at the pictures hanging around and recognized nobody in them.
4. Safe Place For Birth
When I was about 12 I woke up covered in blood, I screamed and ran downstairs to get my Mum. She checked me over and was confused there was no apparent source. We go upstairs and there is my Cat, who I thought was male, in the middle of giving birth. Horrifying at first but I thought it was sweet she felt safe and comfy enough to give birth on me. I don‘t think Mum was too impressed we had to get a new bed though.
3. Sleep Paralysis Is No Fun
Sleep paralysis. I lied there motionless (I tried to scream, but I couldn’t even manage to move my lips or make any sound) as two long, thin black arms with long twisted fingers began to wrap around me. I shut my eyes are prayed. When I “came to” and could move, I noped out of there and slept on the couch with the light on.
2. The termites Are Coming
A termite swarm.
They had apparently gotten into the woodwork the corner of my house with my bedroom. I woke up slowly with this itching on my arms and neck, which didn’t seem odd in my barely conscious state. I grabbed my phone to see what time it was and the screen seemed strange and blurry.
As my eyes focused I realized the blurriness was actually caused by a hundred or so little bugs. It felt almost like a movie shot as my eyes moved off the phone and let me focus on my arm, which was also covered with the little buggers. Another focus zoom and I realize everything is covered with them; the walls, floor, my bed, everything.
I went straight from bed to the shower, sent hundreds of them down the drain, and went to assess the situation. They opened a few small holes through my ceiling drywall for entrance.
I cleaned a few things up and made some phone calls. First to an exterminator, and then to the insurance inspector that was scheduled the next day to give me a quote on renewing my home coverage. It took about a month to get everything cleared and redone.
1. Break Up Gone Wrong
Broke up with my ex about six months ago. She had undiagnosed mental issues. Woke up in the middle of the night and saw someone naked and crying in the corner of the room, in a squatting position. I almost shat myself. Called 911.
Went to check up on who it is, with a baseball bat. I couldn’t turn the lights on because she was blocking the switch by sitting too close to it. I screamed at her a few times, no response. She was hiding her face with her hands. Finally she looked up with a blank expression. She cut her hands badly.
From the looks of it, there’s bloody handprints all over the wall. I’m just standing there in my underwear, crapping myself and waiting for the cops. Finally the cops arrive, paramedics arrive a few minutes later. I get taken into the police station, for more questioning. Turns out, she is schizophrenic. She drove 500 miles to get here. I dunno know how she found my apartment. She was admitted to a mental ward later.