Exploding Head Syndrome – Harmless But Disturbing

cartoon of an explosion with the word "boom!"

Do you ever hear a sudden loud noise just as you’re falling asleep or waking up, maybe accompanied by a flash of light?

But then when you check your house or ask someone else, you find no possible source of the noise?

If so, it could be that you’ve experienced exploding head syndrome (EHS). The good news is that although it can be quite scary, it’s not believed to be physically harmful.

EHS as a sleep disturbance was first documented in 1920 by the scientist Armstrong-Jones, who described it as a ‘snapping of the brain’.

Compared to some other sleep disorders, there hasn’t been so much funding for research into EHS in the years since then. Scientists are starting to understand it better though, and the importance of educating people that it’s a benign experience.

How common is exploding head syndrome and who experiences it?

In 2014, researchers in Germany reviewed multiple cases and previous research, with some interesting findings:

  • They found that the average age of onset was 54.
  • More women reported having EHS than men.
  • The average frequency of attacks was between once a day and once a week.
  • The most common symptoms were noise, fear and sudden sensations of light.

Research shows that many young people experience it

In contrast to the research in Germany, researchers at Washington State University in 2015 discovered that many young people also experience EHS.

Their research also included some other interesting findings, such as:

  • 18% of the 211 undergraduates they interviewed had experienced it in their lifetime.
  • 16.60% had experienced it more than once.
  • They didn’t find that women had it more often than men.
  • It was found in 36.89% of people who had a diagnosis of isolated sleep paralysis.
  • 2.8% had clinically significant levels of distress or reduced ability to function.

2019 research finds even higher prevalence rates

In 2019, a team of researchers again looked at how common EHS is, finding much higher prevalence rates than the previous two pieces of research:

  • Out of 199 female undergraduates, 37.19% had experienced it in their lifetime. 6.54% had it at least once a month.
  • Out of 1683 male and female adult participants in a separate study, they found a lifetime prevalence of 29.59%. And 3.89% had monthly episodes.

The team also found associations with other sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, sleep paralysis and nightmares.

2020 research sheds more light

In 2020, a fascinating study into EHS was conducted in a collaboration between the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and psychologists in the United States and the United Kingdom.

In a survey of 6686 adults, 3286 reported that they had experienced EHS during their lives. 2954 said they had never had EHS.

Interestingly, 446 additional people reported having it, but were excluded due to the likelihood it was a different medical condition or because they reported significant pain during their episodes, which is not typically a diagnostic symptom of EHS.

Of the people who said they did have EHS, 5% said they had it several times a week. 35% had it several times a year, and 40% several times in their lifetime.

And in line with the German study, they also found that women were marginally more likely to have it than men.

It doesn’t cause physical harm

The name exploding head syndrome itself sounds very dramatic, provoking all kinds of violent images in the mind when wondering what the consequences of an episode might be!

The reality is that EHS is seen by organizations such as the American Sleep Association as benign and not associated with pain. However, it can cause a great deal of fear, anxiety and confusion, along with physical symptoms like increased heart rate.

Exploding head syndrome symptoms

There are several possible symptoms commonly reported. They can occur either when falling asleep or waking up.

1. Hearing a sudden and loud noise that isn’t real

The main symptom of EHS is hearing or feeling a loud and sudden sound. It can feel like it’s coming from inside your head, somewhere in your house, or even outside.

The type of sound varies between people, and might include:

  • The sound of an exploding bomb.
  • The sound of a gunshot.
  • A loud clash of cymbals.
  • The sound of a door slamming.
  • A rushing sound.
  • People screaming or shouting.
  • An electrical buzzing sound.
  • Any other loud sound which can’t be described exactly.

2. Seeing a flash of light

EHS is sometimes accompanied by a sensation of a flashing light. Like the noise though, there’s no actual light source causing it.

picture representing a flash of light

3. Fear and distress

Most people don’t usually report feeling pain with EHS. They may describe it as painful initially, but then reveal it’s just extremely loud.

However, the sudden noise and other symptoms can be very disturbing. So it’s not uncommon to wake up feeling scared or upset by what just happened.

In the BBC collaboration study in 2020, for example, 44.4% of participants reported feeling significant fear during episodes. Interestingly, a smaller number of 25% reported clinically significant distress.

Japanese researchers published a case study in 2021 of a woman who had repeated panic attacks that were caused by episodes of exploding head syndrome. Interestingly, they discuss their belief that EHS can be “relieved only through patient education and reassurance.”

4. Elevated heart rate and breathing

Brian Sharpless Ph.D., who has published several papers on EHS, described in his 2018 research the most common symptoms as:

  • Tachycardia
  • Fear
  • Muscle twitches
  • Respiration difficulty

Interestingly, he also found that visual phenomena were reported by 27% of people with EHS – a figure he described as “more common than expected”.

5. Accompanying sleep paralysis

As the research at Washington State University found, EHS is sometimes accompanied by sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis itself can also be very frightening, so it’s unsurprising that a combination of the two sleep disturbances can cause distress.

6. Worse sleep?

The 2020 study by the BBC also found interesting effects on people’s sleep in general. They found people with EHS typically took longer to fall asleep, had shorter sleep duration, and worse sleep efficiency.

However, they do note that the differences were not clinically meaningful. I’ve added it here under the symptoms as I think it was interesting that it came up in the study, but it’s not listed as a symptom in sleep disorder guidelines.

Reader EHS poll

I ran a poll of readers for three months to see how often they felt they experienced EHS.

Out of 7,752 readers who voted, a combined total of 53.5% said they experience it at least once a month. 41.9% said they experience it very rarely.

These numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt though, as I only polled readers of this article. So rather than a random sample, it’s people who were probably inspired by their experiences to look it up online.

chart showing the results of a poll about how often readers experience exploding head syndrome

Causes of exploding head syndrome

The causes of exploding head syndrome still aren’t properly understood. Several theories have been proposed:

  • A neurological condition, such as minor seizures in the temporal lobe.
  • A sudden movement in inner ear parts, such as the tympanum (the eardrum), or the tensor tympani (the muscle involved in reducing sound – e.g. the sound of chewing food).
  • Related to fear, stress or anxiety.
  • Calcium signaling impairment.

In 2010, the researchers Thorpy and Plazzi suggested that EHS might be a form of hypnic jerks, saying:

The EHS is a benign, usually self-limited, condition that is likely a sensory variant of the hypnic jerk. No testing or medications are necessary when the history is typical. Education and reassurance are the cornerstones of therapy. If the symptoms occur multiple times a night and cause insomnia, a hypnotic may be useful.

Going back to the 2020 BBC study again, they asked the participants what they believed caused their EHS. Here are the main causes reported and the percentage of people that mentioned them:

  • Something in the brain – 60.6%
  • Stress – 34.7%
  • Medication side effects – 7.2%
  • Something supernatural – 2.8%
  • Electronic equipment – 2.3%


The treatment options for EHS are limited due to the fact that it’s seen as physically harmless, and still not fully understood.

Knowing that it has a name, that you’re not alone in experiencing it, and that it’s not dangerous might be reassuring enough for many people.

However, you might like to consider the following options if you remain concerned:

1. Talk to your primary care provider

Speak to your doctor or physician if you’re concerned by your symptoms and they are causing you distress or loss of sleep.

They might check for other causes, such as headache disorders or seizures. They can also help reassure you that it’s harmless.

2. Medication

There’s isn’t a standard pharmaceutical treatment for EHS. This would be something to discuss with your doctor, who might consider a drug treatment tailored to your specific medical history and symptoms.

3. Reduce stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can increase the frequency and intensity of some sleep disorders. If you’re under a lot of stress and/or suffer from anxiety at night, it’s a good idea to find ways to tackle it.

Some good ways to tackle stress include exercise, walking, yoga, tai-chi, meditation, mindfulness, or simple breathing exercises in bed.

Here’s a simple breathing exercise I find calming that you could try in bed if you’re feeling anxious about sleep.

Breathe in through your nose for the count of four and then exhale through your mouth for the count of six. The exact count isn’t so important, as it will depend on your lung capacity and counting speed – do what’s comfortable for you.

What’s interesting is to make the exhale longer than the inhale, and to try to breathe in while expanding your belly rather than just your chest. Try it to see if you find it calming too.

4. Practice good sleep habits

Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and many lifestyle choices can increase the likelihood of disturbed sleep. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, and practice good sleep hygiene.

5. Try not to worry about your sleep

It’s important not to become anxious about falling asleep. Try not to worry that you’ll experience another episode or that something bad will happen to you.

That might be easier said than done, but some positive self-suggestion at night can be helpful.

Prevention strategies reported by people with EHS

One final look at the results of the 2020 study reveals some interesting possible techniques to cope with EHS.

The study participants were asked what prevention strategies work for them, and how effective they thought they were.

Here are the top methods that people say helped them:

  • Using or refraining from substances, such as drinking alcohol before bed or taking sleeping pills. It’s not clear in the published study whether more people had success taking or stopping taking substances. It looks to me like drinking alcohol has a positive effect on reducing EHS, but I can’t be sure from the way the data was published!
  • Don’t lie on your back.
  • Got to bed earlier and get enough sleep.
  • Practice mindfulness techniques/relaxation exercises.
  • Get up for a short while if it happens, and then try to sleep again later.
  • Try to wake yourself up during an episode.

Your thoughts

Have you experienced exploding head syndrome? What symptoms did you have, and how did it make you feel?

Feel free to share your story and thoughts in the comments below.


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  1. I am glad to know I’m not the only one. It always sounds like a loud “bang,” wakes me up and I’ll ask my husband “What was that?!” He’s sound asleep so I know it’s just in my head and go right back to sleep.

    • I just woke from a loud dong sound, similar to one hitting a big bell. It woke me up aggressively. I didn’t know what happened but my boyfriend was next to me sound asleep, so I knew I was the only one who heard it. I was completely discombobulated. What’s funny is I still feel a sensation in my ears as if I really heard it. It was accompanied by this light that was trying to fade.
      After I settled I immediately Googled to get some sort of idea or answers to what this was. I landed here. This gave me no comfort just more questions.

  2. I have had this happen about four times. I am woken out of sleep by a loud pounding on what seems like my front door. I have thought someone was picking someone up and had the wrong house. I did not get up out of bed to check. Just had it happen two days ago and the pounding was extremely hard and loud this time.

  3. I have had chronic high blood pressure since 1993. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea less than one year ago. I’m 58 years old, female and African American. College graduate. Highly intelligent. Experienced stress in recent years due to marital problems. Have been restless in recent months, going to bed late and waking up early. I’m aware that I have not been getting enough sleep and so I will do things like reading to make myself sleep so that I can catch up on my body’s needed rest.
    I believe that intentional self-care, including the appropriate amount of rest and Christian faith-based living, will improve quality and length of life. Daily prayer and positive thinking has helped me tremendously.

  4. For me it can take two forms: one is that I hear somebody yelling my name from the front door of my apartment; or I hear them knocking on the door. The odd thing is that it happens while I’m dreaming, which is what makes it seem so real–like somebody is really knocking on the door and waking me up from a dream.

  5. Woke up to a flash of light and a popping sound. It reminded me of a kettle that blew a fuse and caused a flash of light. My thoughts are that it might be an electrical brain cell or something like that.

  6. This is the second time it’s happened to me. I was terrified both times. The sound that came with the flash was this awful magnetic buzzing you’d maybe hear in a horror movie, and it was just so overwhelming loud with that flash. This time I sat up gasping and shouting. I can definitely correlate the sleeping on my back because I’ve only recently started this practice cause I thought it was helping me sleep better. 😩 the first time this happened to me was maybe half a year ago. I was really hoping this would have gone away but no such luck apparently by my post tonight. I will be bringing this up at my next doctor’s appointment and have some scans run anyway because I’m paranoid and scared this is some sort of brain clot or stroke or something happening to me.

  7. I experienced this one morning, I heard a loud boom and all of a sudden my vision flashed from yellow to orange to red, I bolted upright from my sleep and wondered if it was a warning of a fire in the house. Was terrified but at the same time it was a cool experience and it made me think of dragons haha. It seemed to happen around the same time that I had the worst chest infection I’ve ever had and I was drinking loads of ginger, turmeric and other adaptogens so perhaps this had a neurological impact.

  8. I used to think someone was playing an elaborate trick on me – waking me up by banging loudly on the front door in the early hours or my next door neighbour shouting in a loud voice from the other side of my bedroom wall – before I discovered that there was a name for what I was experiencing. These episodes obviously caused a lot of fear and anxiety but, looking back at it now, I remember that they happened at times when I was already feeling anxious or stressed. A fellow sufferer gave me some very helpful advice though. She had a dog, so whenever she heard these sounds, especially the knocking on the door, rather than driving herself crazy looking for a non-existent person at the door, she’d look to the dog and if he hadn’t heard it, she knew that it wasn’t real. Unfortunately, I only have cats, so no help there, I’m afraid, they’ll sleep through anything !

  9. It just happened to me for the first time, just a moment ago, I was laying down trying to fall asleep while watching some YouTube, and just as I almost fell asleep, I saw a bright flash and a loud popping sound. Kinda sound like either a gunshot or an extra loud pop it firework thing. I just up in fear and right away look up what it may be. Scared me so much.
    Someone, please reassure me I am alright.

    • I know how you feel! I have an upcoming doctors appointment and will be mentioning it. If I end up with any other known results I’ll be sure to pass it along so you can get checked out as well. Hopefully, this thing is just what it says it is and is just some weird harmless whatever night terror this is.

  10. I’m so happy to have found this article, my experience is a little different but it’s always the same thing. It always starts off with hearing my door open up by someone with a keychain that’s super loud. I can hear the door shutting and the person entering at first I used to be so scared I would make myself wake up. But a couple of years back I was curious to see who was entering my door so I went with it and it was a strange man who was really handsome but just strange. He continues to just talk to me like if we know each other or something It feels so real like I can physically hear and feel him. It’s always the same thing he comes in starts talking to me as he gets ready for bed with me but it’s always a different conversation, he lays down next to me and I can physically feel him I can hear him talk and laugh. I know it’s strange I haven’t told really anyone because I know they’ll think I’m crazy and I probably am. I also make myself have it if I want to I feel like I learned to control myself when I’m in my sleep since I had this for so long, sleep paralyze is something I can also make myself have if I want to. I know no one can really explain to me why this is happening but I love this article.

    • Definitely would pray to God and call on Jesus Christ’s name. That snaps me out of sleep paralysis with visual ‘hallucinations.’ There is a reason you feel this ‘man’ is strange. God bless…

    • It’s a debilitating condition. I’ve suffered from it for 15yrs now. Mine happens all night every night. My only strategy is improving my sleep by foods that make you drowsy so that your sleep is deeper. I have resorted to tryptophan in the beginning which was very effective in getting dèep sleep but after a few years it was getting difficult to feel much life force during the day. Best of luck in your research 👍. Jen

  11. Omg this happened last night. It was around 3am when a loud noise , a boom sound woke me up and I also saw like red like a fireball explode when I opened my eyes but then a second later everything disappeared and I guess it was just me …I’m too paranoid and like after that happened my heart was beating real fast idk that was scary

    • I had a similar experience where I didn’t even remember if there was a noise or not but something woke me up and all I saw was white and red but mostly red and I woke up quickly to turn on the lights and it disappeared and found myself really shaky and scared and before going to bed I was already scared and paranoid of sleeping alone with my child.

  12. Early this morning, I awoke to knocking on my bedroom door. I live alone. Last weekend, a loud boom woke me. I thought it was a lightning bolt striking a transformer! That’s how loud it was. I thought the Earth moved! It was before dawn but I called my fellow and asked did he hear thunder or lightning or a bomb go off. The answer was NO. He said it was all in my head. How right he is! I am 73. Eight years ago when I lived in another house, I would often be awakened by rattling chains. I thought the house was haunted! So, I moved!
    Then I graduated to knocks on my bedroom door which I keep locked. Over the past eight years, the knocks come an average of once a month. After reading this column I’m happy to know I’m not losing my mind or having a stroke!

    • This is happening to me, almost 53. First thought it was actually my son or partner both battling mental health and addictions and would come knocking around the house different hours of the nite into the morning. but then it began every time I’d experience loud pounding or slamming on the outside of the house doors and windows…then constant flicking of lighters…coughing…often as I was falling asleep ..then began waking me in the middle of the night or wake me in the morning…I also thought maybe haunting…definitely triggered my PTSD and likely PTSD triggered it also …even this morning ..and I’m away from home in the country on my own…loud knocking on the doors. It has woken me each nite I’ve been here threw out the nite multiple times.I’ve started sleeping again back to the wall facing doors and windows and with a kitchen knife in hand…Very unnerving ..so much so that it lead me here to look it up. And I am relieved validated and shocked at how common it is. Trauma plays a part for me for sure thou it is absolutely crazy how real it feels. what do u think of the expansion of 5g towers and the crap they are pumping into the atmosphere???

  13. Larry
    Hello. I’m 62 and last night was the first time I’ve ever experienced this. It happened three separate times as I was going to sleep. I turned off the TV, covered up comfortably and BANG!! and chills all down my body. It occurred at the same time I think most have experienced a falling sensation that awakens you. I knew it was inside my head, not outside or knocking, I awoke fearful, like dread, like someone was lurking outside, even though I knew it was internal. I had bizarre dreams all night, very vivid, colorful, wind sensations, weird dreams that woke me every time. I wrote them down. I was 100% sober. I had to look this up. I thought it was a stroke or aneurysm. I never had those issues and am in fairly good health. Not overweight but I am slightly depressed. Was glad to hear others know about it. Misery loves company I guess. Now I am worried about going to sleep. I will think about this and do NOT want it again. I’ve never heard of this until last night. Thank you all for your experiences. It does give some comfort. :)

    • Early this morning, I had no idea what time it was, I was woken up with the loudest battering on my front door, I jumped out of bed and looked out of the window and yelled, I am coming, thinking it was the postman but there was no-one there. I went downstairs and checked all around the house and it was quiet, I realised it was exactly 6 am. The weird things is, this never happened to me until after my husband died six years ago, I hear him calling my name, I hear battering on the door, I hear things being dropped onto the floor, it always wakes me up.

      I looked into it online and someone stated that it was the dead trying to communicate with me and to never open the door when you hear battering or knocking as spirits are trying to get in and some may be bad spirits.

      Terrifies the life out of me.

  14. I experience knocking loud knocking I wake up checking all windows and doors thinking I am going crazy, sometimes as soon as I lie down for bed I am in between sleep and wake I hear the knocking too will jump up and check, I am glad I found this post at least now I know I am not going crazy!

  15. I have experienced this all of my life. It’s never really disturbed me as I recall episodes from childhood so I have always thought of it as totally normal. For me it’s more like an internal electrical buzz, miniature shock in my head. I get the odd twitch of a limb while falling asleep but these are not always linked to the EHS symptoms. Both occur on their own as well as together occasionally.

    Sometimes I can go for months without it, other times I get it on a daily basis when trying to get to sleep. My sleep habits are poor, up late most nights and usually get no more than 5-6 hrs a night. I’m a night owl and useless until mid morning. I have quite literally discovered the name of this syndrome while unsuccessfully trying to get to sleep last night and turning to my phone and Google in my frustration. It’s great to know I’m not alone in this odd pattern of brain activity! I’m currently recovering from an operation on a badly broken shoulder and the EHS has been much worse during this process. My situation is forcing me to sleep on my back currently which is not typical for me. I’m glad I have come across this site! Very interesting indeed. Best wishes to you all!

  16. I have had this occur at infrequent intervals since turning 40 (am now 62). When it does happen it’s like a slamming door or a “pop”. I feared it was minor strokes or some sort of synapses damage occurring. On the rare occasion there was a flash of light. The problem has decreased with my own ‘trial & error’ body awareness study; here’s what I found (I hope it helps you).
    Stop caffeine in all its forms (yes, even sodas). My body processes caffeine at night causing tachycardia, high BP & sleeplessness, so stopping the intake relaxed my body for better sleep (took some time for this to happen so be patient).
    Eating heavy at night. Aside from the possibility of reflux, my body was now ‘working’ all night & processing. Especially if it was carbs like pasta & breads, these gave me energy that had nowhere to go. Carbs AND sugar would result in the same energy output as caffeine and cause RLS (back off on sugar & watch your RLS lessen)
    Caffeine sugar AND stress together ensures EHS in me. Exercising after ingesting caffeine and sugar (okay, chocolate…) didn’t alleviate the occurrences. Even if I’m exhausted and would fall asleep quickly I still would be awakened by EHS.
    Our bodies change how it processes everything as we age (dangit), and these are my findings that have worked for me. It still happens once in a while, like this morning, but there was coffee in the am, a heavy supper with friends & neighbors, pie and later chocolate. So I should have seen it coming.
    May God Bless.

    • Thanku for your experience in this. I also have ground high fats and too much protein in the evenings meal makes things worse trying to sleep. I try to eat very early with the latest meal of the day. An empty stomach at night can reduce the force of the shocks. Best wishes ❤

  17. My sound is like an exploding lightbulb in my head along with a flash of light. Unsettling. glad it is not a problem.
    Also experiencing body jolts.

    • I wish it was knocks or bombs for me. In my case, it’s like 2 or 3 girls screaming to the point I feel like my eardrums are going to explode. It starts when I’m falling asleep and remains for a couple of seconds while I’m awake but with sleep paralysis.

    • I wake up with a fright thinking I’ve heard my very loud doorbell. I race downstairs thinking it’s the postman. But then realise it’s 3 or 4 am and there was no doorbell after all. It’s very alarming!

      • Same here, especially the noise of the doorbell which is an exact replica of my doorbell so it is completely believable except for the fact that it,s usually in the early hours of the morning.

  18. Hi, I’m 20 and I’m so reassured that I’m not going crazy haha! I’ve noticed that the noises I’m hearing are getting much more frequent (almost every night now) so I decided to google it and came across this page!

    I have experienced quite a few noises – an exact replica of our doorbell, my name being called, screams and loud knocking! It’s scary because it sounds SO real, and I wake up with a very fast heart rate.
    I’ve also been woken up before after feeling like a big gush of wind has passed over me and I felt like my body was stuck still!
    It’s very interesting that our brains are doing this and I hope there are scientists out there somewhere looking into why it happens, and why us? :)

  19. It’s my first experience. The syndrome may or may not be the same with my sleep. During sleeping, I became sweating and hear a loud voice in my ears. In my dream I got my right internal ear organ explode. I got dizzy and had to go to hospital. This time my sweating is abnormal coz I always have upper control in my dream.

  20. FINALLY! I am a combat vet that has dealt with PTSD and night terrors since 2010. All of this started after returning from Afghanistan and for me sleep is a scarcity. When I’m about to finally fall asleep I simultaneously hear a bomb inside my head and feel a massive shock/jolt/whiplash from head to toe. I used to think the constant detonations of Russian mines outside of my combat outpost, and RPG attacks were the cause of this. Thank God I’m not losing my mind and it’s not harmful!

  21. Wow how comforting- I sincerely thank all who have commented, and Mr. Green! My first incident was 10 years ago falling asleep when I heard a HUGE loud BANG that my dog nor family heard. Thought I was going crazy. It happened once more that month in the middle of the night. Now 10 years later it’s happening monthly- gunshots, a piano dropping and crashing(!) and last night an explosion. All abrupt and quick, then done. Leaving me terrified! Neighbors didn’t hear it of course. So unsettling! Good luck to us all :)

  22. This morning, while asleep, I had the oddest sensation. I heard what sounded like an air raid siren/alarm in my head and my eyes popped open.
    I immediately thought something bad had happened. But all was ok.
    I read this article and thought maybe this EHS was the cause. I’m 74, was feeling very stressed and depressed before bed. I also have nightmares and yell in my sleep (according to my husband).

    • Mine sounds like the door slamming hard enough to shake the house and wake me up. It has happened a couple of times over the last year and stress very well could be a part of the cause. Relieved to know it’s not just me.

  23. I am so happy to be reading these comments I was terrified 4 years ago when I was suicidal, had an afternoon nap then this roaring started like my head was being crushed together, there was an electric shock feeling that went from the base of my brain at the back, down my back and into whatever in my lower back like electrocution it lasted a while and I think I was contorted, then I woke up terrified with ringing in my ears so loud it was like I was deaf from a grenade, my landlady asking through my door if i was ok so i must have been wailing shouting or something. I thought I was being possessed, and have had many since then.

    One particularly interesting time I got so angry and enraged at being bothered by it that I got furious at it, and when I let the rage out I found myself sat up, half out of my body, looking around bedroom and down at my legs which were heavy and still in my body, but my torso was extraordinarily light and seemingly free of the body and I’ve never felt such peace and elation and fascination, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get back in my body so I lay back down into it and woke myself up.

    Now I get the roaring and brain crushing when I sleep on my back sometimes. And I get choking sometimes but I’m not too badly emotionally distressed so I wonder what’s going on.

  24. I am a 62 year old nurse practitioner. I have heard sounds like these so often and secretly thought I was having signs of dementia or something. I really am glad I am not alone y’all. In nine years of extended education I never heard of this from anyone. Ok I hear perfect replica sounds of loud knocking, doorbells ringing, loud boom ( like an explosion outside not too close by) , my first name , the word “Hey”. Many loud sounds are accompanied by light for me but I don’t know if these sounds were. This happens most often when my sleep pattern is irregular due to my caffeine intake, which as I get older I find I am not metabolizing caffeine or alcohol as fast as I used to. These sounds are such perfect replicas of the real sound that I think they are my brain replaying a sound memory. They wake me flat up. The house is quiet and the dogs are “sound” asleep. I wondered if aural hallucinations during sleep pointed to neurological disease but am so glad to hear it is not. Was this noted in the Framingham Study? I’d love to know if it’s been tracked longitudinally.
    Thanks for your site!

    • By Cee to Cee I forgot to mention that I have had sleep paralysis on about 5-6 occasions not connected to this. I have wondered if it was an inner alarm clock. I do have another thing that happens on awakening quite often. It the sensation of the bed shaking and or my body vibrating. Just adding that in case it’s relevant.

      • I started having these symptoms right after taking the pfizer vaccine. Clicking sounds in my ears and slamming door sounds in my head.
        Mostly when I wake up and try to close my eyes and go back to sleep. It’s happening just about every day.
        Sometimes during the day I get a quick swish sound and feeling in my head. Scary what’s going on?

  25. It is 5 in the morning and I just experienced two loud knocks which I thought came from the front door of my house. As a young 16 year old you could imagine my first thought was to look up the situation on google and it has led me here. I’m glad that now I know there is no kidnapper trying to lure me out at 5 am like I see on tv but I am still clearly terrified. Since this was my first time waking up from these knocks I had to first check outside my window but the snow that fell during the night contained no footprints so I was relieved. But I will not be going back to sleep again since I can’t get my heart to stop racing.

    • Hi, I am 57 and I’ve only started to hear knocking 3 months ago. I hear loud knocking as if it’s coming from outside and when I wake up I can feel my heart rate going a mile a dozen. I wake my husband up to check the door, he’s not impressed, as he gets up and cannot then go back to sleep. It is quite worrying but now I know it’s not me going mad and won’t be waking him up.

    • I have knocking at my door and bedroom window. I know there is no one there and it’s scary. It’s sometimes light knock and sometimes loud. I never heard it until my Mother told me it means someone will die and that happens too.

      • Wow, this one’s really got me thinking! My husband experienced the sound of knocking for the first time the night before last and I told him I have experienced this throughout my life, also, but haven’t in years. That is until last night! I distinctly heard a knocking at my bedroom door, and of course, no one was there. Was it just the power of suggestion because of my husband mentioning it the day before? Or is it a sign that someone may die soon, like you mentioned above….Hmmm, I would venture to say time will tell.

  26. I heard it again this morning.
    5 rapid loud knocks every time it happens usually once or twice a week I ask my husband if he heard the knocking his answer is always no.
    At least now I know there’s a name for it so I am not going mad at 46.

    • I have the same thing, always four knocks and it sounds so real. My partner has never heard it. I am only 23 and just started experiencing it in the last two months.

  27. I am 52 and have experienced it on and off for the last 20 years without any rhyme or reason or frequently. I have experienced twice in the last two weeks that have particularly stressful which is what I equate it too and always either as I am drifting off to sleep, waking up, or light sleep. Doorbell sound, dog barking, or distant music. My dog never responds so I just roll over and laugh that my head was just doing the head exploding thing and try to keep a sense of humor about it. Other than being completely startled the first time I had it, I find it somewhat fascinating as long as that is the extent of it. Sometimes I wonder if a greater Divine being is trying to wake me up. Always open to more info and findings. Thanks to all who have shared!

  28. Last night I had a dream that there was an earthquake and I had to hold down my cat and dog and use my back as a shield from a falling object so they didn’t die. Just as we were about to be crushed I heard a deafening noise of a zombie screeching in my right ear which woke me up immediately. As I woke I was convinced there was a zombie/ old man walking in my room, this wasn’t sleep paralysis as I could move. Terrifying. I checked my sleep talk recorder app and there was no loud zombie noise so I realized it must have been in my head.

  29. Very scary, mine is banging on the bedroom window and I live in a ground floor flat, (very loud around 4/5 knocking sounds)
    I do suffer from EHS exploding head and bright lights which started September 2020 banging on window January 2021 and February

  30. Glad I found this. I had no idea it had a name. I have been having this for several years. This morning it continued after I was already up for a minute or so. Mine sound like a short “tink” like a fingernail tapping a glass.

  31. Just woke up to this and it has happened around 7 or 8 times in the past 25 years, ever since I left home and got my own house. I suffer with inner ear problems, so I put it down to that or some kind of underlying anxiety. Good to know it has a name.

  32. I heard a gunshot go off right by my left ear one night wide awake while watching TV. This left me puzzled and confused for a better part of 5 minutes or so. Thinking I had been shot I was looking for the bullet hole on my body somewhere. Then I looked around my house both inside and out but to no avail.

    Come to think about it, reading some of the posts above has allowed me some comfort as I’m not alone in all this. I too get woken by someone bashing, not knocking, on my bedroom door. It’s so loud I find myself instantly saying out loud, “WHO IS IT, WHO’S THERE”? no one as usual.

    Other times it both sounds and feels like a truck 18 wheeler just went through my wall into my room, that jolts me wide awake leaving me so confused my heart rate jumps at an all-time high saying what in the hell is going on here, it’s driving me nuts. I’m very fed up with it all I want to know what this means period.

    Yes I know there is a medical term for this, however, I believe it means more than just that; do you who experience this on my subtonic level agree?

    • I’m so glad I found this article! I thought I was losing my mind! I hear 3 sharp, loud and quick knocks. Sounds like someone pounding the side of the house. Or the doorbell ringing 3 times. I sit up in bed, my heart pounding and I’m scared. But the dogs are sound asleep! I even checked outside. No one there and my adult son didn’t hear anything. A couple of times I heard my mother’s voice call me. This all happens in the middle of the night. So weird!

  33. This has been happening to me. It started 2wks ago and happens at least 3 nights a week. My dog sleeps at my side and does not hear it or she would start barking. It’s very strange xx

  34. I’ve experienced this 2 times so far and it scares the crap out of me. The first time is was a loud bang, sort of like a bomb. The second time sounded like a buzzing of electricity. I get very startled and distressed when it happens. I also now am afraid of falling asleep.

  35. I just woke up and googled it so I am relieved there is a name for it. I’ve had this for years and it’s usually when I’m just going into a deeper sleep. A very loud knocking sound like the police are at my front door. I get scared and my heart races a bit. I get up sometimes to check the house but then realize it’s a dream or something. This happens to me a few times a week and I have trouble getting back to sleep.

    • I too am glad I found this reasoning. Mine was a sudden loud door slam that sounded like someone came in and slammed the door shut. Scared so bad I immediately dialed 911. My husband passed away 3 weeks before and I feared the worst. I froze in bed, my heart was racing, thumping through my chest. I was feeling nauseous as I had a very long wait for the sheriff to arrive. Nothing was found. He was very understanding. I had fallen asleep after about 10:15 pm and while on with the 911 dispatcher, I asked what time it was as I lay frozen in the dark. He said it was 11:05. So my guess is I was going into a deep sleep when it suddenly hit me. I had a terribly sad day of crying as it was Valentines and I was alone for the first time in 30+ years. So maybe stress? As I thought about it, I vaguely remember this happening before, but years ago and I didn’t call 911 because I was not alone. It too was sudden awakening with a door slam. I also froze in fear for what seemed an eternity before reasoning all was fine as my husband slept in the other room and never woke. Scary as can be! Hope it doesn’t happen again for a very long time. But I fear my mourning may cause it again.

  36. I just woke up to a loud pounding on my door at 5 am. It’s not 3 knocks and it’s not always loud. I thought it was stress. I have looked it up before and never found a name for it. I went down to check front door. There’s never anyone there. My sleep has been erratic due to the holidays. Now I’m awake for the day.

    • Hi Suzie
      Similar happened here, I heard knocking on the door just like my daughter knocks but I checked everybody no answer. This is the third time it’s happened in the last two weeks.
      So scary.

    • The other night I heard what I thought was a 747 flying over. And the. All of a sudden I heard a big. Crash. Like it went down. I am a firefighter and we train for that. But I thought was it real or was I dreaming. Because I waited for our tones to go off and nothing I even go up put my nighttime fire bunker pants on and went to look nothing. It freaked me out.

  37. Just woken up after hearing ‘knocking’ with the door knocker – even though my outer door was replaced last week and the door knocker taken off. 12:30am but woke up right away! Happens a few times a month. Soooo glad it has a name. I thought I was going bonkers!

    • I couldn’t figure out what it was. At first it scared me. It’s usually when I’m stressed out. I didn’t think I was going crazy because I already am crazy. Lol

      • I have been staying at my parent’s place for about 5 to 6 months, and just recently I get two knocks loud enough to Wake Me Up Just as I go to sleep. Just the other night I have my stepdad knock two times and say hey but that was way too late for them to be awake I don’t even know what to think anymore.

    • A few hours ago as I was waking up I heard my door closing loudly on the other side of my bedroom wall. It’s a very distinct and loud noise. I still haven’t gotten up to check things out. Prior to this is would be a knocking I would hear that would wake me up at times. I’ve assumed there’s some spirit trying to get in or out 🤦🏼‍♀️Until I found this. I used to suffer from migraines with auras and bad earaches since childhood and figure I have a neurological issue.

    • I have this too. Woken by the door being knocked, usually 3 knocks, but this morning it was a frantic 5 knocks and no one there and not heard by anyone else.

  38. I experience sounds, voices, music, buzzing, and ringing when it happens.

    I believe it to come from the spinal cord around the neck. Electrical impulses.

    I have noticed if you are lying with your head pushed forward in any way it is around 90% more likely to occur than if you tilt your head slightly back.

    So like lying on your side with your head straight not curved forward.

    This could be an explanation of why the numbers of people experiencing this are increasing? Because people spend a long time each day with the neck bent forward over a computer or phone.

    I would like those experiencing this to test what I day about keeping my neck straight..hope this helps someone

  39. I needed this article….i just woke from hearing knocking. It’s not the first time. I no longer verbally answer the door but instead I get up and look around. It’s initially startling. It’s always sharp and rapid three knocks. And loud, well seemingly. It always brings me out of sleep fully alert.

    • Mine is very similar. Right before I fall asleep, I mean like right at the moment I slip away into unconsciousness, I will hear 3 knocking sounds…like someone is knocking on a door. It probably happens 1-2 times per week. It started about 6 months ago at a rate of once every other week, but as of late, it is happening more frequently. There is no harm, but it does startle me, and I have to concentrate going back to sleep.

      • This has been happening to me, it started 2wks ago and happens at least 3 nights a week. My dog sleeps at my side and does not hear it or she would start barking. It’s very strange xx

    • I just had it happen and it woke me up. I swear it’s the police at my door. At time though it’s a lighter knocking. Strange indeed.

    • I just experienced this for the first time. I woke up by hearing my front door open and close with force a million times a second for about 3-5 seconds. I was in deep sleep at this time though, and my initial thought was I’m being robbed by everyone in my apartment building, because why else would my door be opening and closing that fast? Pretty scary when stacked with diagnosed depression and anxiety. On top of that my sleep routine is very poor and has been for years. Hope this doesn’t persist.

    • This just occurred to me last night. I almost got out of bed but realized my dogs were not barking. It was three distinct knocks and it startled me awake at 3:00 am.
      I’ve had similar awakenings in the middle of the night with loud bangs and flashes of light but never the knocking.

  40. Omg, your comments exactly describe the knocking on my front door, always three knocks, that pull me from seemingly a deep sleep to the point of absolute awareness and readiness to jump out of bed and see who is there.
    Always early morning, when a knock at the door like that can only ever be bad news.
    I have been attributing it to memories of someone who would do that, knocking on my door in the early hours, many years ago that was somehow still (metaphorically) haunting me.
    This is such a relief, knowing it’s a ‘thing’ with a name. Although the name in of itself is a little disconcerting :)