It's the time of day you are most vulnerable, when it's too dark to see, and too exhausted to fight back.
Maybe that's why nightmares have such a visceral response from us, despite the knowledge they aren't real.
Over on Reddit, user Woody4ever shares a story about what happens when you don't take nightmares seriously enough.
The story was shared to the "TIFU" subReddit. "TIFU" stands for "Today I [Messed] Up" and has users telling about how a small act or decision ended up going completely south.
And Woody4ever messed up by trying to console her husband while he was having a nightmare.
It's not a very long story, so they get right to the point.
"Woke up to him whimpering/ crying in his sleep. It was still dark out and I was so groggy that I lazily slung my hand over his face and tried shaking him awake while sleepily saying 'Babe, wake up'."
"I couldn't see so I just start feeling for his face to gently slap him awake."
However, they quickly realized this was the wrong move.
I've honestly never seen a situation escalate so quickly.
The simple act of trying to wake up your spouse can lead to a real bad reaction.
"In his nightmare haze, he screams and bites my hand. In my sleep haze, I was totally not expecting that shit and my brain immediately deduces my husband's been possessed so I start screaming."
"This caused him to start screaming more as he woke up. Lesson learned. Sleepy time means every man for himself apparently."
Screaming leading into other screaming. Recursive screaming. Just screams for days.
I'm honestly surprised they both came out okay. Seems like the husband was deep in something weird in that dream to make him bite the helping hand.
Speaking of, what was he dreaming about?
"He later told me his nightmare and it was truly f'd. He was dreaming he was having sex with me but then noticed it wasn't me, but some kind of creature."
"TL;DR: possible succubus scenario. Saved my husband's soul but got bit in the process. We're okay now."
If there's one thing we can count on it's the social dynamic between sleeping partners. And by "count on" I mean "cannot nail down at all."
Seriously, one moment you're praising them for saving you from a fiend, the next, you're complaining about their snoring.
"can't be letting those night demons steal your husband's man-water... sometimes you gotta take a bite on the hand." - Cracker77
"Lol, just doing my wifely duties nbd." - Woody4ever
"My ex-wife would punch me awake when I snored too loudly. I didn't blame her." - MaximumCameage
""Species" creature or "Predator" creature.... this is Reddit.. you gotta be specific." - rambler335
But sharing your stories on the internet leads to our favorite thing, and the thing that makes humanity better.
Who knew so many people would have similar stories?
"One time my ex wife heard me groaning and gasping for air, so she tried to wake me up. She tells me she's never been so scared in her whole life because she thought I was dying. Truth is I was having a terrible nightmare were a grim reaper-esque creature was suffocating me. I, too, have never been so scared. The way she tells it from her end is quite frightening; even after violently shaking me to wake up I was unresponsive.
Nightmares are weird." - doubleohkevinnnn
"I did a thing like this. I awoke 100% sure a 18wheeler was going to obliterate us in bed. So I scooped up my wife and ran into the living room. Then, realizing it was a dream I took her back to bed and fell asleep. She told me of my antics the next day." - bobthepomato
"this reminds me of a dream where i got shot in the stomach and my guts were spilling out. GF sees me holding my stomach in my sleep and whimpering, and she starts to gently massage my stomach with her hand. meanwhile in my dream, a field medic has just walked up to me and begins to massage my guts, whispering"it's gonna be alright, baby."" - KidTrout
"I had a nightmare one night and my gf told me later that she had thought that holding on to me tightly was a good response. Wrong. It made me dream I was drowning in a sinking pool tarp. In my real life struggle to get free in the dream, I elbowed her in the eye." - Ghostdog2041
Luckily, Woody4ever's story ends with everyone okay. And honestly, a succubus trying to steal your soul kind of makes everything that happened afterward understandable.
There are less scary, but still frightening things that can happen in your dreams, especially when it's a recurring nightmare.
Just remember Woody4ever's advice.
"Sleepy time means every man for himself apparently."