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Who is the 'Hat Man'? Internet shares chilling experiences of 'dream stalker' that causes sleep paralysis

'Have seen him since forever, the more you forget about him the less likely you are to be visited by him!' one person shared
UPDATED MAR 15, 2023
(Representative image from Getty Images)
(Representative image from Getty Images)

The unsettling experience of seeing a shadowy figure while sleeping — commonly referred to as the 'Hat Man' —has been shared by a number of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Many have described feeling afraid, unable to speak or move, when they encounter the Hat Man - all symptoms of a disorder known as sleep paralysis.

Around the world, the Hat Man is frequently perceived as a "shadow person". A shadow person is defined as the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanlike figure, and is seen by those who believe in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of a spirit or other creature, according to Wikipedia. The Hat Man is a well-known urban legend who is tall and wears black attire, frequently a jacket and an old-style fedora hat. The Hat Man's appearance has, however, occasionally been described differently by different people, and these individuals have bonded over their reactions to seeing the urban legend.


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'I saw this entity at a homeless shelter I used to work at'

Numerous people have shared their encounters with the Hat Man on Reddit; one housekeeper who worked in a home they believed to have the "most paranormal activity" wrote, "I saw this entity at a homeless shelter I used to work at. I was a housekeeper there and one day I was in the basement where there was the most paranormal activity and say him standing by the elevator."

The person added, "That shelter was heavy with paranormal activity but I wasn’t scared of the other spirits I encountered. This entity however, scared the hell outta me. Thankfully I only saw him once. He just stood there a few seconds then was gone. I will never forget that day."

Another person who managed to capture the Hat Man they saw, wrote, "Yes. A few weeks/months ago he appeared in my bedroom, and i even managed to take a picture of it. I started getting so scared to a point i thought im hallucinating because of how bizarre it felt."

The person added, "But nope, if i was, i wouldn't have managed to catch him/it on camera. Since then i leave a little light on in my room and I'm scared shitless to sleep on my side with the back towards the open room, because of it. It disappeared after around 10-15 mins."

Another individual who had numerous encounters with Hat Man wrote, "I have had 3 experiences with him, the first one was in July of 2013 in my mom's basement, the second one was in March of 2014 when I found out I was pregnant. I had a big window in my living room that would look into the backyard and I felt his presence looking at me through the window."

The person added, "My last encounter was in the morning I got a text message from a news station that Charles Manson died and the vibe in my bedroom was eerie my cat and I were looking at the same corner of the room and this was around 5:30 am after my boyfriend left for work." 

One person offered advise on how to dodge encountering the Hat Man. "Have seen him since forever, the more you forget about him the less likely you are to be visited by him! (Of course forgetting about him doesn't mean he'll forget about you) And the opposite also applies, the more interested you get about him the more he'll be around," they said.

What does science say about it?

Many physiological and psychological conditions can account for reported instances of shadowy beings that seem to be alive, according to Wikipedia. A person with sleep paralysis who is paralyzed and lying awake may perceive a "shadowy or hazy form" approaching them and become more and more afraid. If a person is feeling very emotional, such as when they are alone and it is late at night, they may wrongly interpret a patch of darkness as an attacker.

Drug addicts who use deliriant substances like datura, diphenhydramine, and benzydamine frequently describe seeing shadow people. One final scientific explanation suggests that the shadowy figures in the peripheral vision may be caused by visual hallucinations, such as those caused by schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.