Waking nightmares: firearms safety?


January 23, 2003, 07:42 AM
Hello all. I'm curious about others' experiences with waking nightmares. While they're anything but frequent (two times in the past 20 years), they have been very rousing and concerning.

A short time ago I was quite sound asleep when I bolted out of bed and had the idea that I was to commit extreme and immediate violence on my chair (under the idea that it was a human threat, in my bedroom). I vocalized, probably rather loudly, and within an instant I regained my sense of reality. At that instant I was standing next to the chair, made awake. I then flipped the lights on and saw that there was no threat. I can't remember any noise that would've alerted me to danger. I had not yet actually struck the chair, as I was on the verge of it. The chair was about four feet from the foot of the bed.

Afterwards, I was rather shaken up and my adrenaline was gushing. I don't remember the nightmare, but it must've been very extreme. My body used so much force to get out of bed, my sheets were halfway across the room.

I always have a knife/flashlight under the pillow and just recently my AR under the bed, but my instincts still said to use fists against the threat. Hopefully, pulling the charging handle, flipping the safety, and pulling the trigger would be too complicated an action to occur while asleep, even with increasing familiarity with the weapon.

This concerns me greatly, being that a fist or knife has nowhere near the impact that a negligent discharge has in a firearm.

It seems strange that with humans spending hours per day in the dreamworld, there isn't much discussion about clashes with reality pertaining to firearms.

Please share your experiences with unreal perceived threats, specifically involving a firearm, and any issues that surround this strange behavior.


Edit: Poll subject to read, "Have you had waking nightmares in your lifetime?"

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January 23, 2003, 09:05 AM
'tis a good reason to use a fast-open safe: easy access, yet you need sufficient conciousness to open it.

January 23, 2003, 09:50 AM
I've had a few dreams about lions or critters chasing me that woke me up....buy never any that involved me gettig a firearm.
I'm a (Vietnam era) ex Forward Air Controller (FAC) and the only thing that I've ever shot at anyone was WPs...makes lotsa smoke.....The wife has punched me in the face a couple of times over the years for reaching over checking her to see if she is up and about when i heard a nite time noise.......guess i deserved it.

January 23, 2003, 09:57 AM
Nope, but I worked with a guy who was a sleep walker.
He would act completely normal, but have no recollection of being asleep during his actions.
Sounds like you need to keep em locked up, so you don't have an accident during one of this incidences.

January 23, 2003, 10:38 AM
Nope...no waking nightmares. As a precaution tho, I keep my nightstand gun holstered & unloaded so when I wake up, I have to fumble around, wake up, get glasses, wake up, unholster weapon, wake up, insert mag, wake up, rack round.

January 23, 2003, 10:49 AM
:eek: Purdy weird :eek: Never had one.

I did know a guy who was in my platoon who was kicked out of the Corps after he was caught sleepwalking across the firing range. That could have been a waking nightmare.

January 23, 2003, 11:01 AM
I used to keep my 1911 in condition three on the nightstand. One day after carrying, I left it in condition one and put it in its usual place.

I had a strange, fuzzy, dream that night that someone was in the apartment, standing in the bedroom doorway. In my dream, I sat up in bed with the gun in my hand, pointed at the intruder, and took the gun off safe. End of dream.

Awoke the next morn to find my gun under the pillow, in my hand, condition ZERO. Enough to scare me into NEVER leaving it cocked and locked again. :eek:

I have a dog now. The best security/early warning system ever. If I do get intruded, I will have time to assemble a field stripped M16 before they get to the bedroom. :D

January 23, 2003, 11:18 AM
Anyone who has problems of bad nightmares or walking in their sleep must not have a gun readily available. It must be secured so that the person must be wide awake to have access.

January 23, 2003, 11:33 AM
I believe you are referring to a hypnogogic state? I believe it is a state between sleep and reality where the two become intertwined. (SOmeone please check).

If you have a tendency to reach for things as you awake from such a state it might be prudent to move your firearms away from the bed/nightstand. Most people I believe do not have such a reaction and come out of this state without a violent reaction.

My reaction was one of paralysis. It felt as if I could not move which really freaked me out. Upon reflection it was merely a dream state while awake. A truly interesting phenomena!

January 23, 2003, 03:33 PM
I've never had a walking dream/nightmare. I do however keep my nighstand gun holstered (w/thumb break), it is loaded (but not with one in the pipe), and its inside of the desk drawer (which is my nightstand). I also keep a shotgun in the closet cruiser ready, but in a hardshell case. I think I've got myself pretty well covered just in case. Oh, and a pretty yappy little dog that'll wake me up really quickly if someone does break in, or if I do ever happen to start walking around in the middle of the night whether or not I am awake! :evil:

Mr. James
January 23, 2003, 04:14 PM
I keep the firearms out of hand's reach; I must wake up, walk/run to a closet and retrieve.

Once dreamed I was getting worked over by 4 or 5 thugs. In the dream I threw a wild haymaker - and was awakened by the "biff" as I punched my wife in the jaw.


Bless her, she didn't even exile me to the sofa. But, boy, was she startled.

Mike Irwin
January 23, 2003, 04:27 PM
Every morning when I hit the office.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, as the case may be, I can't carry a handgun in my office...

January 23, 2003, 04:44 PM
This happens to me all the time, sometimes once a week. I jump out of bed screaming bloody murder. I had a Remington 12 gauge all done in tactical, pistol grips, mag light, extended ammo tube, a slight hair over 18" just to keep it legal, flat black Parkerized. But one night I had my nightmare and took it out on a chair that I thought was attacking my wife. I fired all 7 shells into the thing, despite the roar, flame and smoke it continued to move towards me. So I swung the gun around like a club and beat the chair until it collapsed. Ruined the chair and the gun...Now I have a Baretta 92, 17 shot magazine with one in the pipe, under-frame mag light blazing its cold white glare. I always leave it in Condition Zero under the pillow. My dog left with my wife, my kids are gone, my trailer is cold...

4v50 Gary
January 23, 2003, 05:28 PM
I'm no psychobabblist, but I would suggest staying away from guns and gun boards for a while. Time to step down into condition white.

January 23, 2003, 06:46 PM
I've used guns in dreams. Even killed a badguy once (while dreaming). Never woke up violent or in fear though. Good thing since I have slept with a loaded pistol for 30 years.

Dreams can be controlled with some effort. Step one is to realize you are dreaming in the first place. You can develop awareness of dreams by writing them down as soon as you wake up, before you forget them. I wouldn't document them for too long, maybe a month or two at the most. Since this also has a tendency to increase the number of dreams. Dreaming too much just isn't such a great thing IMO.

The few times I have grabbed my pistol upon waking are those times when I know something has awakened me but I don't know what that something is. You might consider casing that AR under the bed to slow you down a bit more.

Ed Brunner
January 23, 2003, 08:41 PM
I have had some nightmares, even flashbacks but for some reason I have never confused dreams and reality. They seem real, but as soon as I wake, they are history.
Yes, I know I'm strange.

January 23, 2003, 09:28 PM
If you're sleeping with a knife and flashlight under your pillow, and an AR15 under the bed, you must have a real fear of something... hence the nightmares. Get a motion sensor alarm, better locks on the doors, and keep the weapons close, but not within arms length. When I was in my twenties I used to have very active nightmares. I even threw my bed across the room one night and woke up in the closet. They stopped when I got older and got married. Of course.. the real nightmares started then. Just kidding.

January 23, 2003, 09:34 PM
I had one my freshman year of college, I thought a German had thrown a stick grenade under my bed, so I jumped up and ran around the corner. Of course, my roommate had just opened the door when I did this, so I told him "Some German threw a grenade under my bed, its got a five second fuse." and then asked for him to hand me a Garand so I could get the German. I had been playing Day of Defeat WAYYYYYY too much at that point in my college career. :eek:


January 23, 2003, 09:57 PM
I have had several very scary realistic dreams.

The first one was when I was about 13. I dreamed that there were German soldiers outside of my house and that they were pumping the place full of green poison gas. That was scary.

The next really bad one was when I dreamed that someone shot me in the back of the head. That was very scary. I couldn't move when I woke up. I thought I was dead for a few seconds.

The Army also contributed. I had several occasions when I just sprang up out of bed thinking that a Drill Sergeant was yelling at me. Let me tell you that those really get you on your feet!

Then one day after an incident/no brainer at the Demo range, I dreamed that a blasting cap went off and blew my lips off. I woke up and my face was numb. That was scary.

Last week I dreamed that I was shooting at a bunch of bad guys with an Enfield SMLE. I had scored three hits. Not too bad. ;) When I woke up, my heart was pounding.

What does all of this prove?
That I have a very vivid imagination.

January 23, 2003, 10:21 PM
I wouldn't tell the psychological evaluator in the service...

and I'm not telling you guys now!


January 23, 2003, 10:45 PM
Lots of interesting posts, so far.

Atticus: "If you're sleeping with a knife and flashlight under your pillow, and an AR15 under the bed, you must have a real fear of something..."

I can't own a handgun where I live, so the old ritual of knife/flashlight close at hand still has merits now that I own a firearm. For me, it's easier to grab because they're always in the same place, held fast by the pillow. Do I have a real fear of something? Hell yes, being that home invasions don't always happen to the other guy... In general, I think many people carry concealed because they have a fear of being without it (i.e. not so it's easier going to the range).

You have a good point about leaving the destructive implements outside of immediate grasp. Would you say that the solution for many people that sleep w/ handguns under the pillow or in/on a nightstand is to better secure their domiciles?

Interesting point this brings up: Would you trust yourself being in a hypnogogic state with a firearm more than the security envelope you surround yourself in / the extra time it takes to make ready a weapon?

Thanks for all the replies

January 23, 2003, 10:55 PM
This is why my pistol is nearby but unloaded. The magazine and a spare are nearby. I can load it in a heartbeat, but not worry about grabbing it while 1/2 asleep.

January 24, 2003, 12:29 AM
Much of the time, we dream about what was on our minds before we go to sleep. If someone is upset, scared, nervous, angry...it effects a person's sleep. Preparing mentally for a violent attack at bed time does not bode well for a good night's rest. And it may not be safe for some, in many ways.

My biggest fear has always been someone getting in my house without me hearing them. If I have a system to keep them out, and an alarm if that system fails, then I SHOULD have time to get my weapon. That's my current plan.

I experienced a break- in when I was younger. If my roomate hadn't heard the guy, he would have been completely in, and done God know's what. I lived in a crappy neighborhood back then, and there had been several murders, rapes, and assaults in and around my apartment complex. It was the only place I could afford at the time though. Luckily the sound of my P-38's racking slide convinced the dude to back out of the window and run.

And speaking of sleep, gotta go.....good luck.

January 24, 2003, 07:39 AM
I have had several dreams where I smelled smoke and woke straight up and checked the house, we have had 2 small appliance fires both late at night so any smoke or dream of smoke or strong thought of smoke Richies is checking thoroughly

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