I was exhausted and hit the bed intent on getting some sleep. I hadn't been sleeping well for several years and this night didn't feel to be any different. I was feeling restless, as usual, so I took Sonata (a mild sedative) to help me get to sleep. That wasn't unusual for me - I'd take Sonata from two to three nights a week in order to get enough sleep to function. I quickly drifted off and the next thing I knew, I awoke deep in the night, but something was dead wrong. I could open my eyes, and move them about to look around the room, but I couldn't move anything else - in fact, I was intensely aware of the fact that I wasn't breathing and that if I didn't take a breath soon, I would die.
There was a guttural sound in my head that sounded inhuman - a deep rhythmic sound as I tried to speak, to scream, anything to wake my wife. She was my only hope. If I could somehow scream, maybe she in turn would wake me up. I could then take that life giving breath I desperately needed. But alas, I couldn't make a sound. In my head, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, but I was also aware that nothing, not a peep of it was coming out. Then there was another sound - a voice - at first whispering, then mumbling; just garbled enough that I couldn't quite make out what it was saying. I strained to hear what was being said, but no matter how hard I tried, I could only catch a word here and there. Then there was an intense feeling that someone or something other than my wife was in the room, that if I moved my eyes quick enough, I'd see the being lurking in the shadows, but I could never quite catch it fully in my view. I almost didn't want to see what 'it' was - I just knew it would be the most fearsome, loathsome creature I'd ever seen. I don't know how I knew that, but the feeling of that presence in the room was purely dark - almost palpably evil.
As a Christian, I just felt that the presence was demonic. Why, at my moment to leave this world would there be a demon present? I don't know, but I did have a feeling that somehow, the demonic spirit unleashed in my room was there for a purpose, that it was there for a reason. Was it the grim reaper himself, come to take me on that last journey in life? I could only hope that his job was only to end my life and that happier, more pleasant experiences were ahead. I could feel the sweat rolling off my forehead and down into my ear, could see the ceiling fan turning above me ever so slowly, and I could hear the 'being' laughing now, but it sounded strange - like even the laughter was deep toned and in agonizingly slow motion. Then I felt my vision of our room 'snowing' out, like the snow on a bad TV screen. As the shapes and shadows of the room faded into a psychedelic fashion, I could see the 'snow' come together until there was a bright light filling up the room. The light was almost like the light one sees after a flash bulb has gone off directly in your line of sight, but instead of slowly fading from view, the 'after image' of light began to grow brighter until I felt as if I was finally enveloped by it. I still was aware that there was darkness and fear behind me, that the evil being was still in my room - but I was drawn to the bright light and with each step closer to it (was I stepping of floating? I'm not sure which) - I felt the fear began to drift far away.
I was suddenly aware that if I looked back, I might face the terror again, but I couldn't help it. I looked back and was shocked to see myself lying in bed asleep, next to my wife, with my eyes closed. Was this all a dream? No, I told myself, this was more intense than any dream I'd ever had. I looked carefully at my face below me as my 'other self' drifted slowly toward the ceiling above. Though I felt ten feet away, I could see, even in the dark of our room, that there I was, lying next to my wife - and I wasn't breathing. I knew somewhere deep inside that it was now or never. I had to breathe or turn around and continue into the bright light above, and I felt torn between the two options. Then I was aware of something around my neck, choking me - and the desire to take a breath became suddenly intense again, outweighing my desire to explore what lay beyond in the light above.
Interestingly, I had no thoughts about my wife and how she would feel finding me dead the next morning. It was as if nothing else mattered in the universe except this decision of mine on whether or not to fight for this one breath - for life itself. Finally, I used every ounce of strength I could muster and drank of the air. I felt the choking sensation give way as I forced air into my lungs. I felt myself falling back toward the shell of myself that I'd left behind me on the bed and in another instant, I awoke - drenched in sweat. With a start, I sat straight up in bed. I quickly scanned around the room, looking for the evil spirit being I'd felt present in the room earlier. I was terrified. Then I looked at my wife sleeping peacefully next to me. I was a bit angry with her for not hearing my screams for help, but then I remembered that she'd not heard me make a sound.
For days, I went to work and came back home, pondering what had happened to me. I had heard of incubus dreams where people felt an evil presence in the room, had felt the presence of alien beings, or even seen demonic ones, and I'd always attributed those reports to active imaginations or outright story telling before my own experience occurred. It wasn't long after that event that my father was diagnosed with sleep apnea and since I had many of the same features of it, I got tested and sure enough, I had a bad case of obstructive sleep apnea. I got to researching it very carefully and discovered that my experience above is not as unique as I thought it was. People with sleep apnea often have 'dreams' with sensations of a 'presence' in the room, out of body experiences, and wake paralysis, much of it just like my experiences. I'd had many other strange experiences before getting diagnosed with sleep apnea and getting treated for it. Since I've started using my CPAP mask [continuous positive airway pressure, mask], I've not had any more terrifying experiences like the one above. I've come to believe that during long spells of apnea (failure to breath), NDEs are experienced. Hence, I felt that my story might be helpful in the quest to understand NDEs. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share what is difficult to explain to friends and relatives.
Date NDE Occurred: 1999
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain NDE from Sleep Apnea 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
I don't know how close to death I was, but this and other experiences like them led me to seek help for my sleep apnea. I became so afraid of sleeping that I developed chronic insomnia and it was affecting my work as a doctor of medicine. I know from reading about sleep apnea that persons are close to death and that occasionally real death occurs.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal I felt alive and awake through the whole experience.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I felt alive and awake through the whole experience.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
The sensation of things moving in extreme slow motion.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. As above in my explanation of my experience, I felt the room get very bright and vivid.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. See above.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Yes The light felt like a tunnel.
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes Felt an evil presence in the room prior to experiencing the light.
The experience included: Darkness
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes As above.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Great fear mostly.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Conservative/fundamentalist Christian/Baptist
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist Christian/Baptist
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes I felt a definite brush with the spirit world.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I'm careful to try and spend more quality and quantity time with my family and those who matter to me most.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes As a professional with a high level of skepticism, it is hard for me to explain the experience which had high levels of the bizarre.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The fear of the 'being' in the room was so intense that I was literally afraid to get out of bed to go to the bathroom afterward. I refused to return to sleep and waited all night wide-awake. My only consolation was the fact that my NDE(?) went on to something better and brighter - I had a feeling that had I continued on, I would have had a much more pleasant experience.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I tried to share with my wife the next morning, but she didn't seem interested, so I dropped it.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I honestly believed that I was as close to death as I've ever been in my life, and that the experience was as real as anything else in my life.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was probably not real I now wonder if the brain doesn't 'create' such experiences to frighten us out of apnea and force us to breathe again, or as in the case of pleasant NDEs, 'creates' positive events to ease our passing from this world into the next.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No