Superstition – Filipino

My mom and grandma warn me against eating too much before going to bed, because apparently, if you do that, you can get something called “bangugnot”, where you have a really, REALLY scary dream and die from fear and choking on all the food you just ate.


The subject said that his mother and grandmother warned him about eating too much before he went to bed because he could die of a nightmare, known as bangugnot. He said that it was widely believed in the Philippines. He was not sure of the origin of the legend, but that, “they say it actually happened to a famous Filipino actor vacationing somewhere once. He partied too hard and POW he was dead the next morning with a scared-shitless look on his face.” The subject, as a result, still does not eat a lot before he goes to bed for fear of bangugnot.

When I first heard the beginning of this legend, I was thinking its sole purpose was to prevent kids from having bad habits, something like don’t eat before you swim. However when I heard it was actually widely believed in Filipino culture I was intrigued to find out more, unfortunately the subject was not clear on exactly what it was about, other than what his mom told him. When I looked it up on the internet the only thing I could find was a comic that referenced the bangugnot, in which the main character’s wife dies of one (the link is at the bottom). After much trouble finding the origins or anything else with mention to this condition, I finally stumbled upon a TIME article in which it talks about nightmare death, and directly cites the bangugnot from Filipino culture. The article is really interesting because it talks about one doctor’s patients who have died in their sleep, all in seemingly good health, and all Filipinos. While most assumed it was an acute pancreas disease, some of the victims did not suffer from it, completely dismissing the theory. The doctor could not find any traces of poison or parasites or any sort of disease, all that was known was that they went to bed after eating a heavy meal, which is known to cause wild dreams. In the end the doctor finds the answer to these deaths in the folklore, learning that in the Philippines a dream-death theory exists known as the bangugut (“Nightmare Death” Time Magazine). Even though the word is spelled a little differently, it is referring to the same condition.

After reading the article, I realized I was completely wrong in my first assumption and that this condition is widely believed and occurs throughout the Philippines.

Time Article:,9171,806038,00.html Apr 20 2007

Entitled “Nightmare Death”

Comic Image: Apr 20 2007

Image taken from the comic entitled “Bangugnot” -a Sandman fan comic by Tobie Abad