Why Do I Hear Footsteps in My House? – The Science Behind Sleep Paralysis and Auditory Hallucinations

Have you ever found yourself lying in your bed and hearing sounds coming from the door of the living room of someone walking towards you or walking randomly? Or you came home after a long day and heard footsteps in the attic or the kitchen?

If that’s the case, you are not alone. The footsteps might be caused by any mouse, cat, dog, or rat, but for some people, it might have a health issue, head injury, auditory hallucination, sleep paralysis, stress, anxiety, loneliness, and more.

If you aren’t the first person who hears environmental sounds, then you might need to consult with doctor or health professionals, or your allies.

Environmental Factors

Here are some environmental factors that can cause hearing footsteps:

Noise Exposure

Exposure to loud or continuous noise can damage the hair cells in the inner ear, which are responsible for converting sound waves into nerve signals. This can lead to sensorineural hearing loss, which means you have difficulty hearing certain frequencies or sounds. Noise exposure can also cause tinnitus, which is a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears that may sound like footsteps.

Thermal Expansion and Contraction

The sounds might come from the roof, hallway, or underground and you wonder who is walking! Thermal Expansion and construction are vital reasons for hearing the footstep-like sound. You hear those sounds when the roof or pipeline expands due to high weather temperatures or contract lacking heat.


Sounds crazy, but there are so many animals living aside from us causing sounds. They bark, cry, scream, around us, and fight with each other. But there are some who don’t just walk passed like cats, rats, mice, dogs, and so on. They walk in the roof, hallway, kitchen, bathroom, or sometimes in your living room.

Roof of a house


As you get older, your hearing ability may decline due to the natural wear and tear of your ear structures. This is called presbycusis and it affects mainly high-frequency sounds. Aging can also make you more susceptible to other factors that affect your hearing, such as noise exposure, ototoxic drugs, or infections.

Ototoxic Drugs

Some drugs that are used to treat certain medical conditions can have harmful effects on your hearing. These include antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, diuretics, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Ototoxic drugs can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss or tinnitus depending on the dose, duration and type of drug.


Viral or bacterial infections can affect different parts of your ear and cause inflammation, fluid buildup or damage to your ear structures. Some common infections that can cause hearing loss are otitis media (middle ear infection), meningitis (brain infection), mumps (salivary gland infection) and measles (respiratory infection). Infections can also trigger autoimmune reactions that attack your inner ear cells.

Genetic-environmen­tal Interactions

Sometimes, your genetic makeup can make you more vulnerable to environmental factors that affect your hearing. For example, some people have a gene mutation that makes them more sensitive to noise-induced hearing loss².

Other people have a gene mutation that makes them more prone to ototoxicity from certain drugs. Genetic-environmenta­l interactions can also influence how well you recover from hearing damage caused by environmental factor.

Head Injury

Many kinds of neurological problems are created by head injuries. People hear abnormal sounds which is called auditory hallucinations. In this case people hear sound without a sound source is causing the sound.

When the person get hurt in his brain, the brain could have wrong sensory information causing the sound in his head.

It’s crucial for a person to get admitted to a good doctor for this kind of problem. The doctor will examine the issue of the person, measure the extent of the injury and treat accordingly.

He might suggest some kind of medication, rehabilitation therapy, or for sometime a complete rest for a long time. Some kind of physical therapy might be also considered by the doctor depending on the extent of the injury.

Some are the therapies:

  1. Avoid too much stress: Generally, stress and anxiety will cause bad effect in the person’s brain. So, meditation, deep breathing, or some light exercise including walking, or moving hands can help you.
  2. Reduce noise: Lesser the sound, lesser the hallucination would be. It’ll also help you to reduce the frequency of the hallucination.
  3. Seek Support: In certain scenarios, taking treatment to the therapist, or some support group will also help you. It will cause you to handle the mental issues too.
  4. Maintain a Healthy life: Maintaining a healthy life is very important in this case. The person should eat timely, should sleep enough, and have light exercise every now and then. It’ll have a good effect on the body and overall in the mentality of the person.

Sleep Paralysis

It makes people unable to move or speak or even breathe properly for a short period of time. At that time the person feels the situation is very real though it’s just a hallucination. The person feels visual and auditory sensations like touch.

There is no certain reason for sleep paralysis. It might be the result of a bad sleep cycle, some kind of mental or physical stress, or some medication might also cause the reason. The person who gets hurt in their head or has another neurological issue has a high risk of sleep paralysis.

If someone is experiencing sleep paralysis, there are several strategies that can help reduce the frequency and intensity of episodes:

  1. Improvement of sleep hygiene: By obtaining a regular high quality dream can help reduce the probability of sleep paralysis. Strategies such as sticking to a regular sleep schedule, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and creating a comfortable sleep environment can improve sleep hygiene.
  2. Stress management: Stress is a big factor for triggering sleep paralysis, so practicing stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing or yoga can help reduce the frequency of episodes.
  3. Looking for medical treatment: If sleep paralysis interferes with daily life, it may be useful to consult a doctor. A doctor may recommend certain medications or therapies to help manage the condition.
  4. Keeping calm during episodes: When someone experiences sleep paralysis, it may be useful to keep calm and wait for the episode to pass. Trying to move or talk during an episode can be difficult and can get panic or anxiety.
  5. Looking for support: Joining a support group or talking to a therapist about the emotional and psychological impact of sleep paralysis can help people deal with condition.

Paranormal Activity

Believing paranormal activity is generally considered a personal belief as there are many people in the world with that kind of belief in a god or some other kind of overpowering creature. This is not based on scientific evidence. Therefore, solutions to these kinds of problems are rare as it’s very hard to break the beliefs of individuals.

A paranormal researcher or psychologist might help that kind of person to stop the reasons of sounds that that paranormal guy hears. Spiritual or religious practice can also help to reduce the fears and anxieties of any person.

The paranormal activity might be just a possibility but not a fact. So it’s obvious to consider other reasons for hearing footsteps without any reason if it’s predominant for the person. Also, don’t be afraid if the lights are flickering or hearing footsteps on the roof.

dark house

Auditory Hallucinations

Hearing voices or noises like footsteps that don’t really exist, may be caused by auditory hallucinations. There are several reasons behind this:

Mental Illness

The mental condition will affect how you feel the world outside you. It causes you to hear abnormal sounds of footsteps or other sounds. Schizophrenia is one of the most common reasons behind hearing the sound of auditory hallucinations.

The affected persons behave abnormally, have random thinking, or confusion in their life. Bipolar disorder, depression, or psychosis is also some of the reasons behind mental illness.

Neurological Condition

As we discussed before, head injury is one of the main reasons behind neurological condition. Some people might also have birth diseases.

Some people also affected by Parkinson’s disease that caused a great scientist like Stephen hawking to death. Sleeping disorder causes you to hear abnormal sounds when you fall asleep or wake up.


A distinct type of drug can also cause your brain to act differently and hear abnormal sounds. Drinking alcohol regularly or stopping all on a sudden can also trigger the issue.

Drugs like LSD, cocaine, methamphetamine, or marijuana will also cause hallucinations. Some medication like antidepressants, anticonvulsants or steroids have their own side effects on the person and cause this issue.

Stress, Trauma, or Emotional Distress

Taking stress in life or some kind of trauma of an incident or series of incidents or high emotional distress can cause hallucination. Likewise, the persons who have passed violence, abuse or experience of war can have hear sounds of the situation. Hearing footsteps is also pretty common in these scenarios.

Persons who live alone, isolated, depressed can have the sound of their loved ones or persons in their imagination.

Other Types of Sounds and Their Location

Type of noiseTime of occurrenceLocation
Footsteps1:00-1:30 AMHallway
BangingNighttimeFront door
Urinating soundsNighttimeBathroom
Drilling/grinding soundsNighttimeUnknown
Children playing/banging on the wallNighttimeNext door apartment
VacuumingMorningApartment hallway
Perfume/cologne smellsUnknownUnknown

Final Words

Who want’s to hear abnormal noises? It might create fear in most of the people. Head injury, or even sleep to paranormal activity, naything might be happen and shake you in your core.

Consult with doctors or professionals as soon as possible, and don’t let the fear or anxiety overcome you anyway. There is nothing wrong seeking a little help to your loved ones or the persons you like.

Wheather it’s a simple solution to your problem or you have to do more than that, you should go ahed to solve with peace in mind.


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