What are Hypnagogic Hallucinations?

When you are having Hypnagogic Hallucinations you are in a state between awake and sleep. You can hear voices or see visions that you normally see when you are asleep. It is associated with Narcolepsy and sleep paralysis as a part of your body is awake while the rest of it is still asleep.

There are quite some people that experience hypnagogic hallucinations. A frequently seen scenario is that you are awake but you can not move your body (This is called sleep paralysis). You may feel that you are not alone in the room, somebody is watching you closely and sometimes you can even hear footsteps or breathing. For some people this will be a terrifying experience when the sensitized person is trying to strangle or hurt them. For other people it might be an awkward situation as if someone is guarding and protecting you. That is why there are explanations that relate this person to guarding angels.

True or not, these are all a type of hallucinations because you are not entirely awake yet. A recent study showed that almost 40% of all people experience hypnagogic visions in some way. Only 5% experience these hypnagogic visions very intensely.

What causes the Hallucinations?

When you are in a hypnagogic state you are awake and aware of your surroundings. However, your brain is still producing brain waves that are associated with REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement). The result is that you are mixing what is real and what is happening in your dreams. The hallucinations are probably caused because you are entering REM sleep too fast. Normally you enter different sleep stages before you go in to REM sleep but with hypnagogia you are entering REM to fast or you wake up from it to fast.

Other research has shown that people with unbalanced sleep rhythms because of work or other causes, frequently have hypnagogia. It is also related to narcolepsy and sleep paralysis.

Hypnagogic Hallucinations Treatment?

Experiencing dreams that feel like they are real can be very terrifying. The first thing you should do to take control of it is thinking that it is not real and you are not going mad. If you have troubles with falling asleep than consult your doctor and see if he has any solutions. Sometimes sleeping pills will help you relax through the night and stop the hallucinations. Sleeping pills also have a side effect that you experience less REM sleep so they can help you in 2 ways.

Sleeping pills or other medication will not help you overcome hypnagogic hallucinations but they might help you take control over the situation. If you really want to escape this state than concentrate on moving one limp. Often this is enough to let your body know that you are awake and it will give back control.

5 Responses to “What are Hypnagogic Hallucinations?”

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  1. Milosh says:

    Hi, i’m a 17 years old boy from Norway, i have reesently experianct this Hypnagogic hallucination. but not just once, but two times at the same night.. it was realy frightning, at first i thought that it was some kind of paranormal Activitys going on or something.
    But after reading this i think i understand a litle mor about this, but i’m still afraid of going to sleap,i don’t want it to repeat.. what do i do??

    • smelly says:

      Hi Milosh, let me first state that I am not a doctor. I am a psychologist and what i know about these hallucinations is that they appear most of the times because there is some kind of stressful situation in your life. This could be study, relationships, work or something else that is stressful more than it is normal. The problem is that the more you get frightened by it the more likely it tends to happen. If you are experiencing them frequently for over a week than I suggest you see a doctor or psychologist who could help you doing some relaxation exercises before you go to bed. They could also help you to stay calm when it happens and try to move a limb. The things you should not do is taking drugs or alcohol before you go to bed. Although people believe they will sleep better with alcohol, the chance on bad dreams and hallucinations will only increase by them.

      Good luck and I hope they will go away soon so you can sleep safe again.

  2. QUEL says:

    I agree with Smelly. I experienced this before and I thought I was being haunted by my past. Not to mention, it happened alot. I was afraid for awhile but then I started to see it as unreal. I also made myself think of it as nothing and realized it couldn’t hurt or harm me. Now I sleep better but when the stress comes this normally come with it. But im so much better now. God Bless!

  3. Laura says:

    I get them as well, sometimes quite intense, sometimes less so. I find they are more common when I have other stressors going on in my life. They can be mildly annoying to utterly terrifying such that like you, I become afraid to sleep. A few years back I sought treatment and was told the best treatment was to take an antidepressant (nortriptiline). I have no other signs of depression so it was only to treat/control the speed at which my brain entered REM sleep. Well … as the doctor explained that he was giving me the lowest dose, while cautioning that if I suddenly felt the urge to throw back the entire bottle and end it all, I should stop taking them, I decided right then and there that I’d rather deal with the hallucinations than deal with potential suicidal thoughts. Therefore, I never filled the prescription, and from that point on, I’ve been able to deal more calmly with the hallucinations. Best of luck to you!

  4. Dave says:

    I’ve had these all of my life, for years I thought I was half crazy. In the last ten years I’ve learned to control and explore these hallucinations. The best thing I’ve found to do is just relax, hold on to the edge of sleep, and listen for vibrations, and rushing wind sounds. This is where OBEs are born. I didn’t believe it at first, but now I’m convinced. But I won’t argue with anyone who says it’s not real, because they have never experienced it for themselves. There is nothing to be afraid of. Easier said than done, I know! Now, I welcome the voices, the visions. Why not, they can’t hurt you.

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