Etymology map of the word nightmare in several different languages
A bad dream or a bad spirit?

Nightmares were a mystery often explained as evil spirits visiting people when they are most vulnerable, during sleep. Many languages will make reference to the pressure felt while someone is suffering what science now calls sleep paralysis, among other sleep disorders. However not a long time ago mythological beings were believed to be the cause of these strange episodes. It is the case of Latin incubus and succubus or Finnish Painajainen.

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