The Original 'Nightmare' Was a Demon That Sat on Your Chest and Suffocated You

Otto Radio

Nightmares, as we use the word today, are vivid, personal terrors whipped up by a person's subconscious just for them--a giant snapping turtle, a car that starts backing away from home on its own, a rocket ship with two witches in the backseat eating a potato/voodoo doll that causes the front seat to disappear with every bite. But in centuries past a night "mare" was a very specific type of frightening nocturnal visitor, a spirit or demon that would sit on a person's chest and suffocate them.