Hypnagogic Hallucinations: Things That Go Bump In The Night

geometric shapes image demonstrating hypnagogic hallucinations

Have you ever seen something like this in the dark at night?

Have you ever switched off the bedside light, only to suddenly see strange shapes, animals or figures in the darkness? Perhaps you’ve heard voices or sounds which can’t possibly be real?

If so, it could be that you’ve experienced what’s known as a sleep hallucination, also sometimes referred to as hypnagogic hallucinations.

Many people experience hypnagogic hallucinations at some point in their lives, sometimes on a regular basis. And I’m no exception.

As a child I’d often see strange, multicolored geometric shapes in the darkness when trying to sleep. I used to lie there alternating between marveling at them and wishing them away so I could sleep in peace.

It doesn’t happen so often nowadays, but once in a while I’m still prone to these mathematical manifestations. Perhaps I should be grateful for my geeky hypnagogic hallucinations. Especially compared to the disturbing experiences that some people have.

So what exactly is this strange phenomenon and why does it happen? In this article I’ll be taking a closer look to help you understand what you’ve experienced yourself.

Definition

hypnagogic hallucinations occur when falling asleep, hypnopompic when waking upHypnagogic hallucinations are usually short-lasting experiences in which you might see, hear or feel something which isn’t real whilst transitioning from being awake to asleep.

It can be an auditory, sensory, tactile or any other sensory experience. Whatever form it takes though, it’s not real and is caused by your amazingly creative brain.

Hypnopompic hallucinations are exactly the same thing, except that they occur while you’re waking from sleep. For the sake of simplicity I’ll refer to the phenomenon as hypagogic hallucination throughout this article.

Both hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations can be very vivid, so can be disturbing in some cases. Especially if you see creatures appearing in your room, voices saying unpleasant things or feeling something touch you.

The history

Hypnagogic hallucinations were first described in 1664 by the Dutch Physician Isbrand Van Diemerbroeck. He might not have called it by the name we know it as today, but he did describe a woman who appears to have experienced hypnagogic hallucinations.

How many people experience it?

up to one third of people experience hypnagogic hallucinations in their lifetimeThere hasn’t been much research done to find out how many people experience this. But the following surveys and research show how common it might be:

1. A telephone survey in the United Kingdom in 1996 of 4972 people found that 37% experienced hypnagogic hallucinations twice a week or more.

Furthermore, 12.5% experienced hypnopompic hallucinations. It was more common among people with insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness and mental illness.

2. A review of 35 different studies in 2011 found that 7.6% of people experience sleep paralysis in their lifetime. We’ll see later how sleep paralysis often occurs alongside hypnagogic hallucinations.

3. In 2000 a survey of 13,000 people found that 38.7% experienced hallucinations, though 27% were in the daytime. 2.7% of people had them once a week, with 2.4% more than once a week.

So you can see that if you do experience hypnagogic hallucinations, you’re definitely not alone!

Symptoms of hypnagogic hallucinations

It’s possible to experience hallucinations that correspond to any of your senses, though visual hallucinations are the most common. They can be experienced from between just a few seconds to a few minutes:

  • Visual – for example the geometric shapes in the picture above. But possibly also images of people, animals or other complex shapes.
  • Auditory – this can be simple sounds like hissing, humming or whistling. But it can also be more complex sounds like human voices. It may also be extremely loud, similar to the sleep disorder known as exploding head syndrome.
  • Olfactory – perceiving smells which aren’t actually there, either pleasant or unpleasant.
  • Tactile – this can be very disturbing, such as feeling insects or spiders crawling on the skin. It can also be a strange rubbing, stroking, tapping or tickling sensation.

Furthermore, there can be more complex hallucinations as part of sleep disorders such as sleep paralysis. You may feel unable to move your body, and perhaps see or sense a person or presence in the room.

Causes

The latest international classification of sleep disorders manual in 2014 presents the following 2 main causes, though does state more research is needed to confirm them:

  • An intrusion of dream imagery onto wakefulness.
  • A lack of stimulus leading to the visual cortex in the brain creating images.

The causes of sleep hallucinations may also be related to another illness or sleep disorder. For example, they’re often associated with these sleep disorders:

  • Narcolepsy.
  • Sleep paralysis.
  • Exploding head syndrome.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Sleep terrors.

They can also be associated with a mental illness such as Schizophrenia. Each of the above will have a particular way of explaining the causes that’s relevant to them.

In addition there are some things which might lead to an increase in frequency or intensity of hallucinations, including:

  • Stress.
  • Sleep deprivation or exhaustion.
  • Electrical activity in the brain.
  • Drugs – particularly illegal drugs such as hallucinogenics, ecstasy and marijuana. But also some medical drugs, including sleeping pills.
  • Brain damage or lesions.

Treatment

relaxing can help reduce stress and prevent hallcuinationsA doctor would want to rule out any of the other illnesses or sleep disorders first, particularly narcolepsy and schizophrenia.

If you do have one of those, then your treatment would be tailored accordingly.

For example, Schizophrenia is usually treated with anti-psychotic medication. Narcolepsy will be treated with advice about lifestyle changes and possibly medication.

For most people, however, there’s no specific treatment for hypnagogic hallucinations and reassurance is the main need. It’s something which you just need to accept as a normal part of life.

Despite that, there are lifestyle choices you can make which may help. And the same applies to those who experience them as part of another sleep disorder. Here are some ideas which may help keep the hallucinations at bay:

  • Get an adequate amount of sleep every night, follow a stable sleep schedule and don’t allow yourself to become sleep deprived.
  • Avoid illegal drugs and check with a doctor if any medication you’re taking may be causing it.
  • Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
  • Try to reduce your stress levels.
  • Try using a soft night light in the bedroom. This might help fill the space that your brain uses as a blank canvas.
  • If you tend to hear things, perhaps listening to music or the radio at night will help.
  • If you find yourself focusing on visual hallucinations, try to re-focus your mind on something else. So for example, breathing exercises or muscle relaxation can keep your brain occupied.
  • If it’s overwhelming, turn on a light and get up for a while, do something relaxing and then try to sleep again after 10-15 minutes.
  • Several readers have said in the comments below that wearing a sleep mask helps them.

Generally though, you can see that hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations are a normal part of life for many people. Once you’ve ruled out any serious illness or disorder, then you’re left to deal with the experience in two ways.

First, try to adapt your lifestyle to make sure you do everything possible to sleep well. Second, relax and try not to worry about things that go bump in the night.

If you do find yourself becoming overwhelmed by your experiences, it might help to talk to your doctor for some reassurance. You may also find it helpful to try some relaxation techniques which can help take your mind off any hallucinations.

Your thoughts

Do you ever experience hallucinations when falling asleep or waking up? What form do they take?

Do you find they get worse at certain points in your life, or if you do certain things? Have you found anything which helps prevent them?

Feel free to describe your experience in the comments below and share any ideas you have about dealing with them.

Please note that after years of responding to comments personally, I’ve now decided to leave this discussion entirely to readers.

I will still read your comment before publishing it, but would like to leave the fantastic discussion that has grown here over the years in your hands now.

768 CommentsLeave a comment

  • First of all I would like to thank you for your article it really helped me a lot.After reading your article i realised i have some sort of exploding head syndrome. I often hear loud noises or “bangs” right before i fell asleep.

    I am living in a new apartment alone for a year now and now I am starting to wakep see things. I would completely be ok If it was spiders or geometrical shapse but sometimes they tend to unexplainable scary. Last night I woke up to see someone standing right beside my bed so I panicked and rose up to see it was some sort of a child. All though my room was pitch black, I could see his eyes were gouged out and one of his hands was missing. I jumped back to the corner of my bedroom and see it literally dissolve into darkness in 5-6 seconds. I am telling this one because it is the recent one and i can still remember the details from it.

    The thing is that extreme sense of fear and insecurity is gone once the image was gone. It always I happens this way. Once it is gone I always just put my head back to my bed and sleep right away. I was starting to think that either my new apartment is haunted or i have a mental illness doing me that. These hallucionations are becoming so common that I am willingly trying to stay awake so long that I would fall asleep right after I go to bed. But its still happening either way. My sleep cycle is also pretty shifted because of it.

    Is this how it should be? Shouldnt I be seeing shapes and other stuff as well If i have Hypnagogic hallucinations? To be honest that loud noises that i hear was a joke compared to these visions.

    Thank you for reading,

    • Hi Ali
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, some people do have hallucinations like these, and can be understandably very scary. If it’s affecting your sleep and daily life, you could talk to your doctor about it and see if they can offer any help. You might also like to follow the tips in the article, perhaps trying a night-light for example to see if it helps prevent such scary moment.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • About 20 years ago I was on antidepressants and after I stopped taking them I had terrible nights of waking up and seeing the whole of the ceiling just crawling with things. It would last a good 5 mins.Over the years it sort of stopped. Had them say once twice a year. But the last few months they seem to have come back. I wake up to see a HUGE spider walking along the edge of the ceiling. I lie there watching it and thinking its not real its not real or is it?? One night it was small yellow things on the ceiling they did scare me. They lasted about 5 mins as well. I cant understand why they have suddenly come back.

    • Hi Lainey
      Thanks for your comment. It’s not always easy to determine why something like this would happen again. Have there been any changes in your life recently? Have you been stressed, worried about something, changed your diet or sleep patterns, or taken any new medication? These are just some things which could play a role. But sometimes, these things happen with no real cause.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi I am 40 year old woman and have always suffered from hallucinations at night, as a small child they were very vivid and terrifying, it was often the same vision of a shadow figure he would be all over my room, in my door way, by my bed, over my bed etc….. I used to scream but it always stayed until one of my parents came in. My parents took me to a see someone but because the rest of my life and behavior was normal they said that I just had an overactive imagination.
    When I got to around 11 they subsided and were very infrequent till I was around 25 and then they started again. I have had them now 2 to 3 times weekly. They are not the shadow figure they are lots of different things now. I also suffer from sleep paralysis but this is not as often as the hallucinations I do also suffer from very vivid terrifying dreams that I sometimes feel locked in if that makes sense, However I have a strategy for this now I try not to fight it however scary it is..
    I find that a small night light helps as the figures I see don’t stay very long after waking when my light is on. I also find that if I try to relax before bed and watch or read something positive and upbeat this always helps. I know it can be really scary at times and feel for anyone living with it. However there are lots of strategies that help me such as relaxation and positive affirmations. My best strategy is positive imagery, definitely no horror movies or documentaries on crime before bed .
    My biggest problem is that it disturbs my husbands sleep because I wake up screaming sometimes, he is starting to come to terms with it and just strokes my hair and helps me go back off to sleep.
    It is interesting that you make a link with mental illness as I have recently been diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

    Hope my words have helped.

    Amanda <3 xxx <3

    • Hi Amanda
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. I think your techniques for dealing with it are all good. Perhaps you can try one or two new ideas from the article also. It’s good your husband is so understanding too. And if you do have anxiety, I think doing relaxation and positive imagery work before bed is a great idea.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi, I’ve been seeing strange things for a long time.. but it’s before I’ve even gone to sleep.. I’m just laying in bed, it’s not all the time, it’s mostly people walking through my room. Last night a man came walking up to the bed then just disappeared, he looked familiar ? My whole body was in shock
    Like a panic attack I was shaking not actually moving but felt like I was..
    the bit that scares me though is I’ve not even started to sleep, any help would be much appreciated.

  • Hello
    I am 44 Years and for the Past 2 years I have had some bad experiences when trying to go to sleep.I go to bed and while I am still awake and attempting to go to sleep a Black Shadow appears on the ceiling with what looks like a Huge Cape. It has a black face with no eyes,mouth or nose.It swoops down towards me as if it trying to Grab me.I start screaming and quickly turn the light on and then leave the light on all night.My most frightening experience was around a year ago.I was trying to go to sleep,I was awake.My bed starting rocking from side to side,I could not move any of my arms,it felt like someone or something was holding them down.I could not move.I could not move my legs and I could actually see my bed rocking from side to side.I could not scream,It felt like I was being held down.I then heard voices.It was terrifying. It lasted at a Guess just under a minute and then it suddenly stopped.I had an open wardrobe in my last home.Again as I was trying to go to sleep I heard noises,sounded like a mouse running across the floorboards but it was actually coming from the Hangers my clothes were hanging from.I lay there watching and my hangers were swaying from side to side and it sounded like a mouse running along the length of my hangers.It was a warm evening,no breeze in the room but the bedroom felt Ice cold.I now refuse to sleep with the Light off.I dont know what is going on but I am terrified.I have been to my GP many times about it but he is telling me it could be due to my depression that i have been suffering from since losing my job.Any help much appreciated.

    • Hi Maria
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds to me like sleep paralysis. That can explain both the feeling of not being able to move, and all the hallucinations you experienced – from the shadow to the mouse noises to the bed rocking.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’m 39 years old and have had sleep hallucinations for as long as I can remember. As a child they were typically visual (spiders, animals) and became geometric in nature as a teen and in my twenties. However, in the past couple decades, they are predominantly auditory. I’ll hear faint strains of music, occasionally birds chirping, or high pitched tones. I thought I might be going crazy and was afraid to admit what I was experiencing until I finally took the time to look it up online. It has been quite a relief to know I’m not alone.

    • Hi Jessica
      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found the article helpful. It’s very common for people to worry about their mental health when they experience this kind of thing, but in most cases it’s not the case that they are going crazy!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • You probably will not post my last message it’s too bad though when I wrote the book I did not realize I might be wired different I thought people were just to lazy to dream. I only had 100 copies made, like I said I enjoy it and experiences with all the senses are in the book the twelve poems of knowledge I wrote it for my children in case they are like me and something happened to me. I made a face book page like I said. As you can tell I get fusterated being condemned for a natural way my mind functions

    • Hi Stephen
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I won’t be able to publish your last message because of the graphically disturbing content it contains. I wanted to acknowledge though that I read both that and this comment.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I was just browsing through forums about Hypnagogic hallucinations, (Lucid Dreaming Community)… but then I found multiple sites on “How to fix them”, “how to prevent this from causting” etc. etc…

    I find it surprising that these natural forms of hallucinations actually creeps people out!
    In the community of lucid dreaming, These Hypnagogic Hallucinations are actually natural to us lucid dreamers, IN FACT, we need them to even do WILDing (Wake Induced Lucid Dream) where the hallucinations will lead to OBE (Out of Body Experience).

    I can not see a problem to Hypnagogic hallucinations and why people need to even try to get rid of them, when the same things can actually be rewarding…
    And most of these people I find (Including some of my friends who actually experience them), Actually does Not (Or knows very little) about Lucid Dreaming.

    Without Hypnagogic Hallucinations, you can’t visualize an upcoming dreamworld you like to be in. So to people wondering if Hypnagogic Hallucinations are harmful or dangerous…
    The answer is *NO*.
    They are just the creation of our mind. Its a natural occurrence (Even to non lucid dreamers). Everyone has them. You just don’t believe that they come every night, Because you do not focus on them.
    I hope this sheds light on you to who ever wants to “Buy medical pills to prevent hallucinations”. Its a waste of money (If there is even such thing!).

    • Hi Martha
      Thanks for your comment. It’s great that you enjoy hypnagogic hallucinations and have a good understanding of lucid dreaming and how you can use the hallucinations to your benefit.
      However, I think it’s worth noting that not everyone finds them so useful, and not everyone is interested in lucid dreaming. Many people have never heard of lucid dreaming so wouldn’t have the same view as you. And even those who do might not find it as interesting or appealing. So don’t be too surprised by people just because they’d prefer to fall asleep rather than lie awake trying to turn scary imagery into portals to the lucid world!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I suffer at least 3 times per week. Always worse at week ends and nearly always at start of sleep. Just last night I was trapped between two old castle walls. I am able to float upwards and find a gap to escape but it means jumping into lake 30 feet below. I make the decision to jump. I crash into water and feel the sensation of going under water and been unable to breathe. This is now so frightening I start to wail and my wife as she always has to do thumps me to wake me up and episode is now over.I might have one or two different episodes before I finally go to full sleep.The above is typical of my Hypnagogic Hallucinations and they can be extremely scary but sometimes very pleasurable but I regret this is very rare indeed.
    I try to control the hallucinations but after 40 years of suffering I still have.nt managed it. I am not afraid of the condition as I know it wont kill me but I hate the fact that I cant get to sleep as I used to before the age of 25. Funny enough if I have a few pints or some wine I fall asleep naturally but regret it is not feasable or affordable to drink myself to sleep every night. I tell my family about it but I bet like other sufferers I get no sympathy whatsoever and they have a laugh about it. Its a pity its such a boring subject just like telling friends your dreams but I have had some facinating experiences with this this problem so I am hoping fellow sufferers understand where I am coming from. I will keep an eye on this discussion and hopefully these few words may be of help to someone. I am male aged 65 and experiencing this problem 30 years now. Regards

    • Hi Pat
      Thanks for your comment, and for sharing your experiences. What you describe sounds very vivid indeed – almost like a dream or perhaps out of body type of experience? Are you definitely awake in your bed, but seeing these things when they happen? Usually, people who have sleep hallucinations see, hear etc things in their bedroom. To be jumping off castle walls suggests to me you might in fact be dreaming already. What do you think?
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi I’m 23 years old (always had trouble to sleep and big difficulties to fall asleep), throughout my young life I’ve experienced some scary things like a little monster (thing) without a face standing at the back of my room, coming closer towards my bed each time I blinked. Very scary and disturbing but this was without any paralyzed feeling. Most of the time I found myself laying on my bed unable to move or to shout anything at my parents with a thickling sensation, I saw a couple of scary things like a face in the corner above of my room, also a great Ninja warrior behind my dream catcher, I was in shock back then but nothing really happend actually thankfully, excluding some very strange events like waking up the next morning backwards on my bed and a feeling like getting flipped over on my bed (But it happend so much I got used to it and just let it go each time I felt it). One time i had this going on and while I saw some things I can’t explain I heard a very deep voice saying that it had control over me and it would all be okay if I would follow his lead (not making this up for real). With all that said it has been years ago that it happend again. I think because of my marijuana use since a couple of years my sleeping problems are gone.

  • Ha just had one of these experiences which is why I am on this forum at 3 in the morning. Woke up in complete darkness thinking a huge cockroach was above me and getting in my bed. Many times this happens and I think that there are spiders. I realize they must be sleeping hallucinations because if they were there, I wouldn’t be able to see them in complete darkness or react so quickly waking up.
    I remember also seeing people by my bed when I was younger which terrified me. I assume they were just these hallucinations.

  • I’m only 19 and I’ve been seeing things in the middle of the night for some time now, some scary , some not, for example water running down my wall, or diamonds on my wall, also animals such as birds or even forests appearing on my walls. I have also seen people when i wake up randomly in the middle of the night, some of the people would seem almost ghostly in a sense, others would look so real that id think there was an intruder in my room. Some say its spiritual awakening and others say its Hypnagogic Hallucinations, all I know is that both spiritual awakening and Hypnagogic Hallucinations have similar symptoms, and I am very interested as to why I experience it , and my friends and family members don’t at all.

    • Hi Daniel
      Thanks for your comment. I think whichever way you choose to interpret it, it’s good to bear in mind that not everyone does experience sleep hallucinations. And even those that do can experience them to greater or lesser intensity, with more or less frequency. So I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that you don’t personally know anyone that does, or admits to, experiencing the same.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have been experiencing hallucinations since I was a child, back then I remember getting up in the night to go to the loo, when I returned to my bedroom I would see an animal on my bed, one I recall vividly to this day was a huge Otter! I was so afraid to disturb it but eventually I flicked my duvet and it was gone. I continued to have hallucinations into adulthood, I would be worried about sharing a room with others. I am now 43 and my hallucinations have got worse, I have one virtually every night, I often see figures stood in the room or by my bed, I shout and kick out at them to go away often using abusive language, my wife tries to calm me and I am now at the stage that I know something has happened.
    My other hallucinations centre around my bed, often I will imagine the roof is about to fall in or the floor is unstable; or the bed is in a derelict building with no windows and rats on the floor.
    I would really appreciate some advice I don’t get enough sleep and find myself tired and irritable, I also work shifts so my sleep pattern is all over the place.

    • Hi Peter
      Thanks for your comment. Have you spoken to your doctor about this? If it’s at the point where it’s disrupting your sleep so badly, and distressing you on an on-going basis, it might be a good idea to talk it over with them. Other than that, try the ideas mentioned in the article, and if you can I think it would be a good step to find ways to try to stay calm during these episodes. Perhaps by focusing on some breathing or other relaxation exercises, it might help take your mind off the hallucinations.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Dear Peter.
      I have been getting these hallucinations too and was desperate
      I had to change my bedroom light bulb recently and the only one available was a ‘daylight’ bulb the blue surfaced one After struggling to get to sleep for five hours I put the light on and left it on. As I remembered that the shapes do not appear when I try to sleep once the sun has come up Very relieved to discover that it worked. I will use the method for as long as it works. It’s worth a try and the light is nice and gentle and used with an up lighter shade it causes no problem. Best of luck give it a go xx Pat

  • I suffer sleep paralysis and night terrors since I was little, even had out of body experience at the age of 7. But since then I’ve been stuck in sleep paralysis phase. It usually scare me so much but now I’m 27, it doesn’t really bother me. Sometimes it would scare me but other times I’m like oh no not again &*$% sake ha.
    But recently, I’ve been having strange things happening. Couple weeks ago, after dreaming, I dreamt I was asleep but I was laying on my bed asleep and was full aware I was there sleeping, I felt something evil running up my stairs (I’m deaf so wouldn’t hear anything) and I jumped out of my bed, opened my blind and window next to my bed and as I was about to jump out I woke up. Second times this has happened to me. Then after a while, I was asleep in my bed like the first time, and all of the sudden the ceiling fell down on top of me with gush of water, soaking me and I jumped up and out of the bed still in shock and was soaking wet. And woke up sweating standing there looking at my bed. Twice that happened to me. Last night, same as what I said about being asleep in bed, something dark was flying over me and I screamed, jumped out the bed, bending under that something to get past and ran out of my room and woke up. I feel so exhausted today and got headache even though I had 8 hours sleep.

    What could it be?
    I love sleeping so I sleep quite a lot going bed early for early wake up but weekends I stay up late and lie in hour extra in mornings.

    I’m very open minded about things like this, and sometimes I try experience out of body experience but gave up 10 minutes later or would fall asleep by accident haha i would love to know more so would you be able to explain what am I experiencing to me please :)

  • I wake up minimum 3 times at night with the feeling that there is someone or something in my room. Two nights ago a voice in my dream told me there was something behind my back while I was sleeping on my side. As soon as I switch on my light there is nothing there. My dogs are sound asleep when I wake up like this. I’ve even had someone praying for me and they said there was something in the spiritual world attached to me that was watching me. I hit complete paranoia after this and have been having even more difficulty sleeping. I pray every time I wake up like this and I’ve even commanded whatever it is to leave me alone. I’m so tired and strung out. I really need advice or at least a logical explanation. I feel like I’m going crazy.

    • Hi Adri
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’re been having difficulty sleeping. It sounds to me like various things could be causing it – sleep hallucinations, dreams, perhaps even general anxiety. It’s often very hard to work out what’s really going on. Personally, I’d try not to think too much about the spiritual world attack thing. Many people believe this, and of course you’re entitled to your own beliefs, but I don’t think it helps people feel calm about sleep. I think it’s more useful to accept that it’s created by your brain, and therefore something you can learn to control. My advice would be to start with some positive affirmation that there’s nothing really sinister there, and perhaps do some relaxation exercises before going to bed and/or when you wake in the night. Take a look at this article for some ideas you can easily try out.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi. My wife has seen all sorts of shapes, animals, people. They can last for many seconds even minutes. As a child she says she used to interact with them, even be transported around the room on a colourful shape. I believe all this to be hallucinations but she is convinced that all animals and people have souls, that she is experiencing them as well as Angels, and she also believes in reincarnation. It feels like much of these beliefs and convictions stem from her experiences and she has sought other spiritual people and articles, of which there are plenty, to reinforce her thinking. As a man of science and evidence, I struggle with these hypotheses and convictions though. Do others explain what they see and sense in the same way?

    • Hi Andrew
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your difficulty in accepting that explanation. Many people do interpret the things they see as being real in one way or another. If you read through the hundreds of comments on the sleep paralysis article for example, you’d find many readers who don’t accept that what they experience are hallucinations. And if someone chooses to believe that, there are many websites and other sources which will reinforce the view. Convincing someone it’s all in the brain isn’t easy, so you may find you both have to agree to disagree on this one!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • When I was teenager I slept walk and remember waking up choking. I would run to my dad who tried to convince I was still breathing. The choking continued a few times a year until my early 20’s. Now I wake up (pretty soon after falling asleep) seeing people in the door way, spiders, I think my dog has jumped on the bed. Sometimes I try to pull the sheets up, hoping the person in the doorway will go away. For the spiders, I actually get out of bed. Sometimes I tell my husband to get out of bed too. It happens a few nights a week, usually only once a night. I feel crazy and exhausted!

    • Hi Sarah
      Thanks for your comment. Have you ever had yourself checked out by a doctor for any sleep related breathing disorder? If you wake up choking sometimes and are always tired, it might be a good idea to get a professional opinion.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • This sounds so much like what o used to get, it used to terrify me but I don’t get it as often now and when I do I’ve kind of got used to it and come to terms with it but it does make me feel so much better knowing I’m not the only one! I used to see a man walk round my room, and on so many occasions I would wake in bed and think I could see hundreds of spider on my bed, I’d jump out hit the light to wipe them away but oviously there were none there so scary! One night though the man that I used to see chucked a jar of spiders over me and I panicked so much did the usual get out of bed switch the light on thing but after that night I never hallucinated that specific man again or the spiders just other things?!

  • I have them periodically and it’s always that I think someone is standing by or near my bed – and I know if it is a woman, a man or a child – but all I see is a shape and I can’t pick out any details like a face or clothes or anything like that. The person isn’t always in the same position around the bed. I wake up panicking and then I relax and can go back to sleep. I’ve had them for as long as I can remember.

  • Ever since I can remember, I’ve experienced closed eye visuals just as I fall asleep. In fact, that’s the point when I know I’m almost asleep… I can lay awake with my eyes closed for 5 or 10 minutes with nothing but blackness, but then gently I’ll drift off into this beautiful world of bright colourful geometric shapes. I actually love it and, and it’s so comfortable, and peaceful. I’ve often thought how amazing it would be if you were somehow able to record this, and play it back on a TV screen or something, because it can be the most beautiful thing. And although its only a creation on your own mind, you could never “dream it up” all will, or in the daytime, even with a fantastic imagination. It just comes naturally, and flows free of any ability to control what forms or pattern or shapes it takes, on the verge of sleep.
    I once discussed it with someone thinking it was entirely normal, and was surprised when they had no idea what I was talking about. But they expressed an envy at what is undoubtably a treat for anyone luck enough to experience it.
    There seems to be very little information online about this phenomenon, apart from the hallucinations theory, though are they REALLY hallucinations when you don’t “see” anything physically or consciously? It’s more of (what I imagine) a state of meditation would be like. Total ease… Total comfort… And then just flow with the colourful space patterns and shapes.
    I’ve never used LSD before, though I’ve read verious accounts about experiences that could be described as being similar to these, which makes me wonder if it’s something to do with the body’s chemistry being more susceptible to… I don’t know what! My own peace of mind?
    I’d be tempted to try LSD, just out of curiosity to compare the two visuals…

  • Hi
    I find this interesting as I have times when I’m just waking up and with my eyes still closed I see things. They are like a split second clip of a video. These clips are in both color or black and white. Some last a little longer than others, but all are in a very short duration. I see faces and or people walking or just there.
    Your thoughts…am I losing it?
    Regards
    Kathy

    • Hi Kathleen
      Thanks for your comment. I imagine it’s one of two things: either your dream still slowly fading, or a sleep hallucination. Try not to worry about it, as it’s very common and not harmful.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’ve had these before, many times actually and I guess different types. The last few times it has been when I’m waking up, like a little while ago. I see a million different shapes moving, this time everything looked colorless and more metallic…moving and swirling into different shapes…some faces or things I don’t understand. My inner dialogue is present at times, almost like telling or teaching myself something while I watch these things happen behind closed eyes. Waking up is a slow process… And at times the shapes linger, though different, with my eyes open in the dark.

  • I keep seeing some weird writing all over my walls and stuff when I’m falling back asleep after waking randomly in the night. The writing doesn’t seem to be in any language I know, it’s indecipherable to me but it freaks me out. I’m 28 and off on stress leave right now, I suffer from depression and anxiety but lately I’ve been having almost like a near-constant anxiety attack – feelings like I can’t breathe and some sort of pressure on my chest – so maybe all the stress or whatever is contributing. I’m so relieved other people experience hallucinations on waking and/or falling asleep. I was beginning to think I was going crazy.

    • Elena, thank you for admitting that. I’ve been waking up to fluorescent writing on the walls lately. It’s almost like graffiti but it’s letters. It reminds me of the futuristic movies that show the computer screens on the walls. I too suffer from depression and wonder if there’s a connection.

    • @Elena I’ve been having hypnopompic auditory hallucinations and some (but fewer) visual hallucinations. They started around 2013, when I got sick and also had an in-grown toenail (I had to get it cut out and it was the worst pain of my life!). I was extremely religious back then (I no longer am, I left my faith last year at end of 2015) and felt like these were omens or signs for some of the things that were deemed ‘sinful’ such as having casual sex and masturbating. I then had a breakup with a GF who lived in Montana and the auditory hallucinations continued. I’ve been having them again recently after getting sick with a chest respiratory infection (I’m seeing a trend here with getting sick and having these), which I believe were caused by Rhinitis / Hay Fever Allergies. I was at the gym around the start of August 2016, and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath after each set of lifting. I went home and haven’t been back to the gym since (it’s now December 2016). I was having trouble breathing just walking up a flight of stairs, and it was a daily nightmare until I started looking into ways to help solve my issues (which I’ll get into in a minute).

      I also don’t have a great sleep schedule from working late night shifts, so I’m typically always sleep deprived. Then on top of all that, I was lifting weights 2 times a week (full body workouts) doing H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training) a couple times a week in the morning, and working night shifts. On top of all that, my dad died last year (October 3, 2015) and within a week afterwards around October 10th, I ended up with appendicitis so I had to get the appendectomy surgery to get my appendix removed. A few weeks later, I walked away from my faith (not due to emotional reasons, but due to extensive research, which was already in the process starting at the beginning of 2015). I’m 33 years old, so still somewhat young, but I think I was pushing my body to the limit, and it’s been affecting my brain chemistry. Not only that, but recently found out that I’m gluten intolerant / Celiac / Coeliac, so I’ve stopped eating gluten (and dairy) products. I also have done a few sessions of AAT (Advanced Allergy Therapy), by a doctor named Dr. Jill Cohn in the San Francisco / Berkeley / Oakland Bay Area. You don’t even have to be there in person for her to treat you, she does it all online through a conference call on a site similar to Skype. You can watch testimonials on YouTube as well, and I’m here to tell you that her system did cure me of Ragweed allergies.

      I now understand that because I was pushing my body to the limit as well as trying to stay 500 calories below maintenance (to cut and get shredded), that my body wasn’t getting the proper nutrients and vitamins. This could be some of the problems you all are facing as well. At that point, your body is so run down, that it will start attacking ‘harmless’ invaders, such as ragweed pollen, pet dander or even just simple dust particles, which causes inflammation, hence the reason I was having trouble breathing (it developed exercise induced / allergy induced asthma in my system). Not only that, but when your body is so run down and not getting the proper nutrition, it can cause psychosis and schizophrenic symptoms as well! I started taking a ton of supplements and they’ve helped tremendously. Here are a few to get you started. Try these and eat a balanced diet for a couple months. I’ll bet you start to feel better and the hallucinations diminish.

      1. Vitamin D3 (Jarrow Brand – 5,000IU – take two to four per day) – This is especially necessary if you live above the 37 degree parallel (latitude) in the Fall and Winter (typically from September to March). The sun only produces Vitamin D3 in our body when it is 50 degrees (altitude not temp.) above the horizon and even during the Spring and Summer, this only occurs from around 10AM in the morning to 2-3PM in the afternoon. Outside of that, your body is not producing any Vitamin D3 whatsoever, which is why around 75 to 80% of people in the world are D3 deficient! A good source of information on this is Dr. John Cannell. Go research how vital and important D3 is for us! You want your ng/ml (nano-grams per milliliter of blood) to be from 50 to 100 (or even slightly over 100 is fine too!).

      2. Magnesium (CALM BRAND) – Magnesium is the driver for Vitamin D3. It’s very important and we don’t get enough of it in our diet on average.

      3. Vitamin C (take around 2,000mg per day) – Look up Dr. Thomas Levy and Dr. Linus Pauling for good information on this. The Liposomal type of Vitamin C is the best kind!

      4. Vitamin K2 (different from Vitamin K1 – Get the Jarrow Brand called Vitamin K-Right) – Millions of people take calcium supplements to maintain healthy bone. Yet few patients or physicians realize that optimizing bone integrity involves more than taking a single mineral supplement. A critical additional component for bone and cardiovascular health is vitamin K2. Recent research has revealed that, without vitamin K2, calcium regulation is disrupted. In fact, low levels of vitamin K2 are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis.

      5. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – it’s a substance similar to a vitamin. It is found in every cell of the body. Your body makes CoQ10, and your cells use it to produce energy your body needs for cell growth and maintenance. It also functions as an antioxidant, which protects the body from damage caused by harmful molecules. (Get the Jarrow Brand – no I don’t work for them, but I’ve heard they are the best in all of these, and it’s what I take).

      6. Vitamin B-Right (Jarrow) which has all of the B vitamins in it.

      7. Oxylent (which is one of the best tasting and best multi-vitamins out there in my opinion). It’s got most of all you need in there when included with what I mentioned above.

      Within a month of taking all this (I started on November 2nd, 2016), I’m now feeling about 95% back to my normal self. The other 5% is caused by my poor sleeping habits still. I now realize that these were all subconscious from the heavy religious indoctrination. If I had never been introduced to these religious ideas, I’m sure I’d not have these particular hypnopompic and hynpnagogic hallucinations that deal with ‘spirituality.’ When it first started, I was seeing visuals such as numbers and objects floating in the air upon waking up. They’d disappear within a few seconds. I’m pretty sure I have some sort of religious trauma after leaving my faith and also, after my dad dying within the last year. They actually have a name for this type of PTSD and it’s RTS (Religious Trauma Syndrome). You can find some good material through Dr. Marlene Winell online if you suffer from the religious form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Anyways, I hope all of this helps someone else who may be going through similar! Just know you’re not alone and it’s more than likely happening because of nutrient deficiency and/or a traumatic experience you suffered. These aren’t devils, demons, goblins or ghouls harassing you, this is all natural phenomena and it can be cured with the right supplements and proper sleep!

  • I was about 10-12 at this time. I was sleeping and then i remember all of a sudden I jolt out of bed screaming and crying screaming help! i’m gonna die! we are gonna die. because what i experienced was a real.fire. or at least i thought. i snapped out of it about a minute after. this happened to me just once.is that a hypnopompic hallucination?

    • Hi Jamie
      Thanks for your comment. It’s hard to say really, without more details. It seems more likely to me though that you woke up from a dream, confused and thinking the dream was real.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’m 30, ever since I was a kid, I’ve had this problem matter fact I’m awake now at 3am cause of it, I could never explain it before cause you be what seems as your awake but see things. This one for me was first time I ever felt like I couldn’t move. I was seeing bright shapes that was coming from the roof then seeing this man, I couldn’t move. Some times I see things bright things in closet like spiders or wired movements, I remember to this day I was 12 I was sleeping and herd this loud boom sound I woken up scared. It’s very strange growing up with it never knew what all this was til I read about it, plus i also sometimes wake up and have food in my bed and I don’t know how come cause I don’t remember going and grabbing food. I was pregnant with my oldest and my sister woken me up and I had a vanilla waffer in my mouth some on my chest and my hand in the box. When this happens of seeing things I’m mostly scared. But it never really happened alot but lately been every night

  • Hypochondriac and insomniac here. I was falling asleep but couldn’t quite hit the mark of sleep for ages in bed so I decided to get up, for a while and try again in half an hour. I was feeling a little bit anxious before bed so I thought that may have helped the sleeplessness.

    As I opened my eyes I saw a huge spider on my wall cawling around the corner. It was clear as daylight (I sleep with the light on). I panicked but before I could put my glasses on I literally watched this spider fade away. After putting my glasses on, there was NOTHING there I could have mistaken this for – not even cobwebs.

    Me being a hypochondriac, I instantly assumed I had a severe mental illness, but this post enlightened me. I was aware that go ogling it would either make me worse or better and I’m happy this information was able to comfort me.

    It also explains why I frequently feel bumps on my bed and taps on my skin just as I do slip into slumber.

    Two birds one stone, nice!

    Thank you.

    • Hi Kyrl
      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad the article was able to help you with both things. I hope you sleep better and don’t find it so worrying if it happens again.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Very interesting. I have experienced a hallucination similar to the one pictured but with only pink and red colours and, importantly, the sensation that what I’m looking at is really close and then suddenly really far away. I’ve met other people who have experienced this but it’s impossible to find out what it is using google. Any ideas? I’ve met 3 people who have reported it identically, it must be a thing with a name, surely?

    • Hi Joey
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not aware of a specific name. Just hallucinations that consist of geometric patterns, I guess! But maybe you could also look into Entoptic hallucinations, as another line of investigation.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi! I’ve been having mostly tactile hallucinations before going to sleep. It feels like a very violent tingling feeling that just won’t stop, almost like my back is burning. Its disturbing and causes me to have to put a heating pad on my back just for the feeling to be suppressed.

  • Hi, I have suffered from hallucinations for the past 20 years, they seem to come and go and like the previous comments I thought I saw dead people, which may sound totally bizarre but when you’re faced with a person right in front if you it’s very scary. After coping with this for years I went to seek advice from my doctor who straight away said I was suffering from hallucinations. From that point on I thought it’s just my brain ( it always happens just as I fall asleep) my brain is not wanting to go to sleep and it just wakes me up by projecting an imageI usually at that point I just stare at the image /person and it goes away, I tell my heart to stop pounding and tell myself it’s not real, I have had one for the past 3 nights ( something that has never happened) always people smiling and happy, but if I can impart any knowledge just tell yourself it’s not real 😃 Here’s hoping I have a good night tonight 😃😃😃😃 sleep well people 😃

  • I’m 16 now. I usually have nightmares. The most horrible thing is I see horrible scenes, when I doze. I feel much sleepy all the while but don’t like to.

  • Im 42 yrs old. Had I have been experiencing audible & visual hallucinations. It started with audible hallucinations about 4 months ago. I’m almost completely deaf in one ear and have tinnitus (constant ringing in ear).So Musical Ear Syndrome explains that. But now I’m having visual hallucinations also. I am on tha couch now and there is a ceramic 3ft tall lion in the corner opposite of me. I have been watching him , slightly, moving around & looking right at me. No drugs, no alcohol, no anything! I do have severe insomnia, migraines, & anxiety issues. If I had just one, audible or visual, I wouldn’t worry. But having both of them has me worried. Wondering if maybe I’m losing it……I am under a lot of stress right now. I think the key is SLEEP, for me anyway…. it is a very odd sensation when I have these audible & visual hallucinations. I did have tha pleasure of listening to part of Limp Biscuit song tho! Please let me know if you find anything that helps.

    Dave thanks

    • Hi Dave
      Thanks for your comment. Whilst sleep deprivation can definitely lead to hallucinations, I think that seeing hallucinations during the daytime is something to talk over with your doctor. They should be able to help you work out what’s causing it, and provide advice and support to deal with it.
      Regards
      Ethan

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