A terrified householder heard a burglar shout "I want cash, I'm going to cut your wife up, I've got a gun" after he smashed his way in during a late-night raid.
Darren Roberts' victim initially thought he was "dreaming" when he was disturbed at around midnight by the sound of broken glass but soon realised there was a stranger ransacking his home.
Newcastle Crown Court heard as the occupant dialled 999, he could heard rogue footsteps heading for his bedroom and let out a "scream" when the door was opened.
As a result, the 30-year-old burglar left he house, in Sunderland, where he had searched cupboards and drawers in every room and left a trail of blood from being cut by breaking the patio door with a brick to get in.
Roberts, who was out of prison on licence from an earlier aggravated burglary, was arrested nearby.
The victim told police in a statement he felt "shaken" by what happened last August and added that he was "scared for his life".
He said he was relived that his 91-year-old father, who lives with him, had not been in the house that night.
Roberts, of Carlisle Terrace, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to burglary and admitted another house raid, where a garage was ransacked, the following day.
He also pleaded guilty to possessing a knife in the street the previous month.
Judge Amanda Rippon sentenced him to a total of 46 months behind bars.
The judge told him: "He thought he was dreaming, then heard shouting "I want cash, I'm going to cut your wife up, I've got a gun.
"He realised he wasn't dreaming and was very scared. He rang 999 from his bedroom and could hear footsteps coming up the stairs.
"I dread to think how he must have been feeling.
"He said the entire incident, from first waking to police arriving, was probably, an extremely frightening, 30 minutes."
Nicholas Lane, defending, said Roberts had done well since his release from his last prison sentence and had vowed to stay out of trouble.
But Mr Lane added: "He can't explain his behaviour on the night in question. He had been drinking and that's all he can contribute his behaviour to."
Mr Lane said Roberts is "disappointed in himself" and is determined to stay out of prison in future.
Mr Lane added: "He offers no excuses, he has expressed an understanding of the effect that his offending behaviour would have had on the home owners and it has been his specific request that I express, on his behalf, the remorse he feels for the harm and upset he would have caused. "