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Ten of the best: Sleep demons you've never heard of...

This Freddy Krueger vest is probably the scariest thing in this post, TBF

You might see going to sleep as eight hours of lying on your back doing nothing. Evil demons from other realms see it as eight hours of them using your body and psyche like a playground.

Here are the top ten most likely to have you reaching for the lightswitch in the middle of the night… or never wanting to shut your eyes again.


South African shamans are to blame for these vile, eyesgouged-out gremlins. They are unleashed to settle scores and harm enemies – but sometimes get sidetracked and go off on a raping spree, or bite off sleeping people’s toes. One way to deter them is to sleep with a brick under each leg of your bed.


Demons get horny too, and that’s how women end up getting night time visits from ghouls that are literally hard as hell. Of course, this idea might have just been invented so rapists could get away with it in medieval times. Might.


It’s not only women who are at risk of dream rape – Succubi are hot she-demons who steal sperm from men. The offspring of a human and succubus or incubus is called a Cambion – they’re born without a pulse, and don’t breathe. Once they hit seven years old it’s hard to tell them apart from a normal 100% human child, and they often cause trouble due to their evil parentage.

Nachtmahr, featuring an Alp and a Mare, by Johann Heinrich Füssli (1802)


These elf-type creatures gain their powers from a special hat called a Tamkappe. At night, they transform into a mist – or sometimes a snake – and enter sleeping bodies through the nostrils. Can also be found sucking blood from men and children’s nipples, or good ol’ fashioned breastmilk from slumbering women.


Isn’t it awful when you wake up in the night and you can’t breathe or move? Medieval Germans blamed it on this naughty little goblin sitting on your chest. But, as always, modern scientists have said that their nerdy explanation is better, and renamed this horrible experience “Sleep Paralysis”.


Who knew Martha was hanging around with a pair of Ethiopia’s most feared dream-invading she-demons? Maybe Dancing In The Street should be reworked as Danger In The Sheets?


Native Indians are so afraid of these animal skin-wearing shamans that they dare not even utter their names – Yenaldooshi and Morea-kame. These medicine men have the ability to take on the attributes of the animal whose skin they clothe themselves in – strength of a bear, stealth of a wolf, etc – and prowl neighbourhoods at night, entering dreams and putting curses on people using a special powder of ground-up bones.

Popo Bawa

Since it arrived on the scene in the late ’60s, the Popo Bawa has had the people of Zanzibar fearing an unwelcome night time sodomy session. Victims feel compelled to tell people of their terrifying experience at the bat-like claws of the shape-shifting demon, and all night vigils watching over communities at night are not uncommon during “Popo Bawa panics”.


A “miracle chicken” i.e. the first egg laid by a black hen and incubated under the arm of a human, is a Satanic lover that flies through the night skies sprinkling flames. When it lands on terra firma, it shapeshifts into a dead relative or mourned ex-lover, and enters houses though chimneys and keyholes. When it’s done spreading sickness and mucking up people’s houses, it trots off before the cock crows. Telltale signs it has visited include hoofshaped footprints.

Freddy Krueger

Freddy Kreuger makes sweet love to a female dreamer
He's cumming for you (vom)

The most bad-ass of all the sleep demons is none other than Frederick Charles Krueger. Born to a nun who was raped by 1000 maniacs, he later got burned alive by some angry parents after he touched some kids. These days he is most likely found hanging out in people’s nightmares, slicing them like carrots with his glove of knifey fingers. You can usually tell he’s on his way to fuck you up as you’ll dream of small children skipping rope and singing “One, Two, Freddy’s coming for you…”. He can’t be defeated.

This article originally appeared in issue 6 of FUN Magazine, circa-2011.


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