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.

946 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I just woke up to a vision of a huge spider on my bed, I can’t fall back asleep in my room now cause It’s always so realistic..

  • For the last two nights I think I’m asleep my husband doesn’t sleep with me but last night and the night before I placed my had on his side of the bed and felt a body I had a crazy dream the last night I felt the body again but I try ed to wake up at fist I couldn’t then I sit up screaming his name when I got my eyes open there was a black form in the corner of my room I’m scared this has never happened before

  • I have always had night terrors and I even sleep walk from time to time, and sometimes I would wake up to see weird shapes and things of that nature. More specifically I would see things that i can only describe as cluttered spider webs covering all of my vision. I came across this article because I woke up to whispering tonight. It scared me but after a while i fell asleep. I then woke up again to the earlier described webs. Eventually again i fell asleep not as scared as that typically happens to me. So then I woke up a third time to what looked like maggots on my bed. I started screaming and turned on my light. There were no bugs or anything. So I started to do research and here i am. I really hope this article helps. Either way im going to set up an appointment with my doctor.

  • I used to get sleep paralysis a lot, esp after a big dose of stress. But lately if i go to bed after 11pm or midnight, ive been getting these weird dreams. I wake up with a gasp and see things in my hallway for a few seconds. The item starts to fade but it takes me a while to realize it isnt really there. Its been all sorts of strange almost circus characters. Weird freaky shapes but a ‘person’ walking but not. I can wake up like this between 1 and like 4 times within an hr or two before falling to sleep. Nice to see an article on it. When i have a better understanding i tend to be able to control things a bit more

  • Hi, I’m not really what is it that I’m experiencing or what is the actual definition of it.
    Basically sometimes after i fall asleep for about an hour or two i feel that someone has punched me and i wake up. or that there is someone in the room despite the fact that i’m alone at this time. and i feel like i can’t move or that i’m scared to move and look around. and when i have the courage to do so. i find sometimes things that aren’t there. and they are different each time. yesterday it was a small side bed lamp that is floating and goes right and left. i kept looking to it and i was already awake and pretty sure that i’m hallucinating and it kept fading away. sometimes it like a small light/dark circle that is always right on the ceiling corners. sometimes i know i’m awake but it seems that my mind and actions are not my own and i found myself trying to control them with my hand (Sounds weird and creepy now that I’ve actually said it). and the most disturbing parts is the laughs and the unknown sounds that doesn’t make any sense. it’s like i hear it inside my head only. yeah i know i’m the only one that hearing them but it’s not like i hear them out like they way you hear the radio or tv sound. it’s just in my head. it freaks me out. sometimes i hear those sounds and i understand them but it’s always really terrible things and i believe them like this one time they told me your brother is dead. it’s really sad and really bad and sometimes it’s overwhelming and i don’t know what to do. besides, i have nightmares like 3 – 4 times a week. and i mean nightmares and in black and white. i wake up after them terrorized and i can’t shake the feeling that i’m still awake. it’s like for the next 5 seconds i can’t tell if i’m awake or still asleep. i already seen someone and they told me it’s just stress. but that doesn’t make any sense. i took some meds and they aren’t helping at all. it seems even worse that actually recently i feel like my mind is playing more tricks on me. like when i’m working or watching tv. for a second i feel like there is someone there. and when i look of course there is no one.
    The only good thing that thank god i’m aware that it’s only my mind playing tricks but it keeps going and going and sometimes it really effects me and i really don’t know what to do and how to handle them any more since i keep waking up after 1 – 2 hours each day. good really use and advice.
    Sorry for the long comment and pardon my English since it isn’t my first language.

  • I’m not exactly sure when this started. I have always had night terrors and lack or over sleep. However, as of lately (I’m 25 year old female) I have been having trouble sleeping at night. I usually began getting tired around 3pm and falling asleep around 4pm. I exercise and eat regularly health at the exception of sweets. I drink tons of water. The only health issue that I’m aware of is high blood pressure which is due to family history and stress. When I sleep I have very vivid dreams that I can mostly control. The biggest issue I have been having is waking up terrified. Breathing deeply, staring and checking the room as if there was something terrible lurking. I wake up to the sounds of human screams at times, but mostly the feeling of someone watching me. When I wakeup I am very scared, but assure myself it’s not real and there is no reason to be scared. This will happen even if I have pleasant dreams. I have known to wake up at least 5xs per night (I have a fitbit that track my sleep). Sometimes I catch glances of what appears to be shadows descending as my vision comes clear. I have tried calming my mind before bed, praying, sleeping with low lighting, and no lights at all. I’m not quite sure what to do. I’d really like to enjoy a peaceful full nights of rest.

  • Ive been having what I call waking dreams, for a very long time, since I was a child. I was a sleep walker and I would wake up and still be in my dream in a different part of the house. I remember last year I woke up standing in front of the back door trying to shake the darkness out of my blanket. Yup. Its that weird. I would see strange figures, gremlin looking creatures, snakes, bugs and all sorts of strange things. I remember not being afraid after a while of being used to it and I tried to touch the hallucinations. The one that creeped me out the most was when I felt my son crawl over my legs one night, I woke up and saw him smiling at me while he was on my legs and when I turned over, my son was sound asleep next to me. Yet I just saw and felt him on my legs. This past week ive had hypnagogic hallucinations almost every night. I even charged at my husband when he opened the bedroom door because I thought he was someone in my dream. It usually happens when I am really stressed and it just so happens that I started a new job last week, so maybe that is the cause of it.
    Anyways, its nice to know im not crazy, im not alone and there is a real name for it. Although, it will always be known to me as my waking dreams.

  • In the last few weeks, unsure if between falling asleep or waking up. I have seen up on the ceiling, up on the left a falling, folding spiders web. Or similar veil like object floating down towards me. Have always been a very light sleeper. So glad I have read peoples similar articles. I am not frightened, just thought it odd.

  • When I was about 4 – 5 years old, I slept with my bedroom door open to the hallway. At the far end of the hallway I saw dancing shapes in the pitch darkness, usually colorful dots, tools (hammers, saws, nails), animals, or kitchen utensils. This occurred most night as I fell asleep. I was a pretty anxious kid though, hated the dark and was always afraid of robbers breaking in. I turned these shapes into my buddies that would help scare away the robbers and their constant presence become sort of soothing lol.

    Now I’ll have auditory hallucinations when I’m incredibly tired and forcing myself to stay awake. It sounds like a radio playing in the background of my head, constantly changing the stations. I usually don’t even notice it’s happening at first because I’m so tired. Sometimes I’ll recognize the voices and I think my brain is replaying things I’ve listened to over the last several days.

    Sometimes I’ll also wake up in the middle of the night hallucinating and it’s ALWAYS a giant freaking spider somewhere on my wall. I always leap out of bed and turn on my light at lighting speed since the light will make the hallucination go away. One time I spent about 20 seconds searching for the spider before I realized it had been a hallucination. I’m pretty sure these are stress-related, but I’ll get one every two months or so.

  • I am 30 and since my childhood hallucinating very scary figures , while sleeping in dark. The thing disappears but I end up shouting with my heart beating fastly. This I suffer only when I switch off lights. I can’t sleep in dark. I wish sometime in life I sleep in dark without hallucinating and shouting like crazy.

  • I am so glad I found this to read and that I am not alone. I have had a lot of the smaller issues but just started about a week ago to have more. Now I wake up (or think I do) and when I look at my husband next to me it is not him.
    1. First time it was our dog laying in bed with me.
    2. Second time it was a HUGE Doberman laying in bed with me. Which freaked me out.
    3. Last night my husband was a Baked Chicken. Not sure why but was frightening just to see that.
    I have not told him that one yet. I am afraid he will really think I am insane. But after reading everyone’s stories I am glad to know I am not alone. Thank you everyone for sharing.

  • I had this for the first time and it was unbelievable and kind of frightening.

    I was having a night terror and forced myself up rather quickly (I’ve had so much that I know how to force myself up). When I woke up there was the figure standing on my bed RIGHT next to me. What was jarring was that I realized I wasn’t in sleep paralysis because I quickly realized I could move. It seemed so real that I could easily visually describe it if I had a picture. The figure was standing on my bed to the left of my shoulder and was wearing ALL black clothes with its back toward me, hands in its pockets. The figure also looked like a kid. It wasn’t showing a speck of skin and it honestly looked sorta like a ninja of some sort but it looked like it was wearing modern clothes just all black. After seeing this, for some reason my mind isn’t scared but is curious. I reach my hand to touch it and it goes right through. After that, the figure LITERALLY starts to float through the wall and that was it. I thought I saw more stuff in the dark but honestly scared at this point and just wanted to turn on a light. I should also mention that this all happened in like a span of 15 seconds, it was pretty quick. This is the first time something like this has ever happened to me and it was honestly unbelievable. It’s crazy what the mind can do because it looked SO REAL I’m not even joking believe me. I will also mention that I’ve been having night terrors for about a week now so that also might’ve been a cause.

  • This morning I woke up very suddenly, almost with no trigger at all, but I did wake up.. as I was waking up I immediately looked over at my hand and saw a large black bug of some sort hanging on the tips of my index and middle finger. So immediately my reaction was to bang and flick my hand off the side of my bed to get the bug off. I take a second to adjust and wake up more.. feeling shocked still and I get up and strip my clothes. I got back into my room lights on looking for this huge bug I KNOW I flicked off my hand and yet I find nothing… it was terrible and I’ve been awake 30 minutes since..

    • Your experience sounds like mine. I fell asleep watching TV with my white dog laying up against me. I woke up and saw a huge black bug crawling up to my dog and me. I jumped up out of bed looking for the bug and hitting the bed. I woke my husband up. He was laughing at me. He said it was nothing but the chocolate I ate earlier that day. For about two months now I have strange dreams and not sleeping well at night. I’m constantly waking around 2 or 3 a.m… I have skin sensations like someone is touching me constantly. Even my hair feels like someone is touching it. This happens when I’m asleep and during the day when I’m awake. I started walking and exercising to try and achieve a better sleep. It helps if I exercise before bed. No more coffee or caffeine on a daily basis.

  • When i finally in the nights feel i can fall asleep I see a brown girl with long eyes in shapes of a cat, in a like “yoga” position. Just staring into my head. Haven’t figured out what the girl wants. In over 10 years i had a sleeping disorder. I have seen this picture of this girl many times before. I get a feeling of fear, paranoid and getting extremely warm in my body. the same picture of that girl in the background of an antfarm looking thing with dungeons of very small black, stick figures climbing around. Its strange but its not the first and I guess not The last thing that keeps me awake all nights.

  • I think this is what I’m having. At least 2 nights a week if not more I’ll see things and hear things. It was especially bad after just moving in and getting used to the different sounds but I still get very nervous and scared. I will hear noises of all kinds and see things like flashes of light. I have been dead asleep and woken up because I’ve heard something i thought was the front door opening. I experienced what felt like someone touching my hair in my sleep. But even durring the day I get uneasy feelings. I watch over my back and I always try to stay more alert of my surroundings. I thought I’ve seen a face in my living room window before. I have gotten out of the shower and looked out my bathroom window and it has looked like someone wiped the steam away. I always see my x bf or his mom when I go out. I’m diagnosed with hypersomnia
    And bi polar 2 but my mom thinks I may be bi polar 1 or schizophrenic. I’ve had day time delusions about my boyfriend cheating. Fears that when I go out I’ll be in a car accident or shot I’ve even thought about earthquakes and storms. I get nervous about what time to leave and avoiding things. If I leave to early it could cause a wreck. I’ve been in 2 wrecks this year but I could of been in at least 5 more. I get nervous about my child’s well-being in public. Scared of him being taken or hurt. I can’t focous our breath easy.

  • I never realy had them till I was with my x bf he started to harming me and it met me up now I have had them every day for the last 5 years they have gotten better over the years but I never new what it was till now . Make me happy to know I’m not crazy

  • I am 40 years old and have been seeing things that’s not there since I was 15. I first saw a snake then started seeing bugs. Now I see people or faces and this is extremely frightening. I’m glad I’m not alone as other people have experienced similar situations

  • This has happened to me about three times in one year that I can remember of. Before, when my sister and I used to share a bedroom, I’ve queekly woken up in the middle of the night and didn’t rlly endurstand why bcz I was deeply asleep. I then turned around.. and on my side of the desk that was between both of are beds was my sister sitting on the floor holding her knees tightly towards her chest with her face hidden(looked like if she was crying) but it didn’t look real, she looked like a hologram. This time it was something kinda different, so I now have my own bedroom and before going to bed my mom used to say good night and turn off my room light. the last thing I saw before closing my eyes was my mom walking away from my bed to turn off the light. So then in the middle of the night I randomly woken up queekly and what I saw was my mom standing up in the same potition that I saw before closing my eyes, but it wasn’t moving..it was weird and it was the same kind of hologram that I saw of my sister but one of them were green and the other white but I don’t remember which was which. I haven’t seen those things since then but I have one after that hear loud breathing under my bed, like if there was someone sleeping under me.

  • I’m 21 years old and remember seeing things since i was 10. Last one was today I saw a larva of a fly wiggling my way on my mattress (from tv show survivor) what was weird was how detailed it was even though i now sleep with lights on or in day. It kinda feels like i hallucinate in the day seeing shadow figures in corners of eyes/flying orbs of light/ and what feels like ants running from my knee up to my neck. My night hallucinations when i was younger was just terror, (black cat on floor corner of bed/old mans rotting glowing face 1 foot away flying at me screaming as i open my eyes/ and what looks like if you poured a liquid out in zero gravity i experience visuals with sounds that have lasted 5+ minutes till I run to turn on the light and i am wide awake during that time.

    • Hey man, 25yrs old and like you I’ve had these hallucinations since around the age of 10. I don’t experience them as often anymore, unless I’m stressed at work, but in high school and college I saw them 2 – 3 nights a week and more often than I would’ve like they were terrifying…girl from the ring in the corner of my room, person with a bloody head, troll in my closet, etc. for the most part these hallucinations were benign and never caused fear, but I’m glad they’ve stopped…

      Anyway, hope you’re sleeping alright! Don’t let it get to you!

  • I am 75 years old, I have always seen things at night that I knew were not there. The illusions were kinetic, organic in form, sparklely and benign. I would often find myself batting at the air as the visions flew toward me. I was always aware they were of no substance, not real, and only seen by me. My childhood was one of poverty and stress. My adult life was rarely without stress. At this point I have the least stress ever in my life and have not had a reoccurrance since my husband died in 2015. Interestingly the only daytime version of this occurred when I was ironing his shirt and glance up to see his face melt off…I was 30 at the time. It is a relief to know this phenomenon has a name. I never doubted my sanity but felt this would not be understood by anyone not having experienced it.

  • I am 75 years old, I have seen things at night that I knew were not there. The illusions were kinetic, organic in form, sparklely and non threatening. I would often find myself batting at the air as the visions flew toward me. I was always aware they were of no substance, not real, and only seen by me. It is a relief to know I am not alone in this.

  • I don’t know if its the same thing but one night a few years ago i turned off the light and ran to my bed and jumped in i laid down and all of a sudden i felt cold hard floor instead of my mattress and i realized i was on the floor then these weird colorful ghost-like figures that were making a strange noises and started to push me in the ground then i started dreaming

  • First of all, sry for my English…
    I’m 30 years old, not using any pills…
    It happens roughly once a month, beginning with last year, when I suddenly wake up in the middle of the night, seeing small animals, like rats/mouses, lizards, bugs, spiders, snakes… in my bed, near me, always running away from me, crawling back under the bed and other furniture… Actually, I just see shapes and shadows of these animals, and I’m never assured what kind of creature was there. It always seems 99% real, and often I’m forced to turn on the light and follow/find these things but of course, I never found them. Usually, I’m not afraid of above-mentioned animals,
    except snakes. Until I read other comments I was thinking that this thing must be some kind of aliens experimenting on my body when I sleeping, and when I wake up and noticed them, they run away…probably I was watching too many alien movies ;)

    • same here – sometimes i feel like bugs and spiders are crawling on my walls its like real almost and creepy

  • I am 73. I began hallucinating spiders crawling on my legs (have neuropathy and restless leg) which turned into baby crabs clawing at my toes. Last night I saw a snake for a few minutes and it went away when I realized it really was not there, but a persistent owl was sitting on a flower arrangement on my armchair, and although I knew it was not real, I could not disperse it. Instead, it became more of a multicolor feathered bird and stayed until I went back to sleep. For about six months I have been caught in an apparent dream, although if you asked I would tell you I don’t dream, and my mother, father (both deceased) and yesterday my son were there individually although in absentia, and I was compensating for them until I was awake enough to realize I was in my bed in my own bedroom. I have a multitude of health issues, not the least of which is macular degeneration, and just read that it can have an effect on night hallucinations. But I also have osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and fibromyalgia, which would also account for the crawling sensation and the crabby stuff; however, this is a daunting experience in addition to my inability to sleep through the night or for more than a few hours at a time. Reading these comments, I realize that the majority of the older folks have similar issues. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were answers out there? The situation is quite unconscionable and makes me feel disheartened. Just one more joy of elder life.

  • I had a dream about 3mos. Ago. Started off as a positive experience then turned a little murky ands i had a sense of confusion about the elements of the dream that were positive. This confusion rather quickly turned into a sense of terror. suddenly a creature appeared down the hall way Of my apartment. It was crawling quickly along the wall and ceiling towards my room but instead of it coming in it crawled into an air register. This was very terrifying Bc i DO have air registers built on the wall and ceilings. At this point I could swear I was wide awake. But felt like i could not move. I struggled – awake – looking at the ceiling trying desperately to move. Then i felt I had minimal mobility but was able to move my arm onto my partners face. She want waking, I clearly remember being so desperate to wake her up to help me that I most definitely remember my hand on her face squeezing her cheeks together. Next morning I said sorry for waking her up so rudely by squeezing her face and she was completely puzzled. She said I woke her up unintentionally because I was making noises and sounded like I was in distress. She said she woke me up bc she knew I was having a bad dream. She claims we talked a few sentences then went to bed…a few sentences being 2 or 3 spoken sentences each. I was zero recollection of the events. The creature was so real. Any help out there ?

    • I know this may sound crazy but Trust me this happened to me almost every night for months I was afraid to even go to bed but I noticed what helps this all disappear instantly is if you yell out the name “Jesus” and I ALWAYS woke up it was very hard to call out his name but I eventually got the words out. I don’t know if you believe in Jesus or not but I promise it worked every time!

      • This is actually what I do to. It’s so hard to speak. I usually try force out “I command you to leave in Jesus name.” The ‘thing’ disappears and I wake up

  • What has been happening to me lately is when I’m almost asleep With my eyes closed, I’ll see a flash of a grotesque face or arms reaching out to grab me. I’ll yell and reach out to push it away. Then I’m fully awake and too afraid to close my eyes. I don’t see things while awake in the dark, only when I’m dozing off!

    • I’m no doctor but I have recently read a couple of John Sanford books on dreaming. He is a christian, but his view on psychology and dreaming is eye opening. You may find it helpful to get to the bottom of the reason for the hallucinations. It may eventually help you stop having them, but our minds can be extremely active. I have experienced many forms of hallucinations my entire life, but I’m usually not afraid of them anymore. Now I realize that most of it is from a deeper part of my mind.

  • I have only had this once, recently. I am 68. I woke up laying on my stomach and raised my head. There beside my bed was an older lady dressed in old fashioned clothes. In front of her was a short skinny little man dressed in an old fashioned suit. They were talking although I could not hear them. I raised my head and shoulders off the bed a little and blinked and they were still there. I watched them. They both seemed to notice me at that point and glanced down at me. I wondered what they were doing in my room Just after that they seemed to shrink into a big circle that moved toward the wall and continued to shrink until it disappeared into an old oval picture of my grandma as a child that hangs on the wall across from my bed. It was really weird. I don’t think I was dreaming about anything connected to that scene. I wondered if maybe they were from an earlier time and somehow our times merged for a few moments. The lady was dressed up in a fine dress with a high collar, long sleeves and a large hat as if dressed to go somewhere. She was a large imposing woman and the man was much smaller and very slender. Never had this happen before or since, although it was only a couple of months ago.

  • I recently had two or three of these hallucinations just when I was opening my eyes in the morning I would see a vivid colorful object in front of me moving to the wall and then moving to the end of the wall and then disappearing. This morning I saw a round vivid pink object that was right in front of me and it moved in warp speed to the opposite wall and when it went to the end of the wall it disappeared.

  • geometric shapes with me too. the shapes dangled in mid air above my bed. unusual thing is that the shapes were always a skeleton of line segment. no curves no circles no spheres. i wonder why it was so…

  • I have had many night time experiences including lucid dreaming, lucid non-dreaming (a very profound experience), sleep paralysis, hypnogogic and hypnopompic experiences, the continuation of dreams while awake in the proper settings, and more. The neuroscience literature is now actively exploring these phenomena and making startlingly discovery. For one, it is a major oversimplification to state a person is asleep or awake. The brain is vastly complicated with distinct “modules”, that can each independently be in different states of activation, producing different mental phenomena. I started practicing yoga around age 22. I first learned certain postures, then breathing exercises, then short meditation techniques, and then the corpse posture (performed while laying down in bed at the end of a session) which put me in a deep state of relaxation. For about 3 years, I would practice this sequence for about 1-1 and 1/2 hours in the late afternoon. Done properly, this can put you in a very relaxed, tranquil mood. During this time, I occasionally would go into a light sleep during the corpse posture and would experience hypnogogic experiences of awesome and ethereal natures. I became aware that my usual awake personality was only a small and highly biased part of my total mental life. In the innumerable studies done in these areas, one fact stands out: your reaction to and the type of experiences you have is strongly dependent on your state of mind when you go to sleep as well as your belief systems (conscious and more importantly unconscious), your sleep environment, and more. A good introduction to some of these phenomenon and the working of the brain is a book I read several years ago: Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman, a renowned neuroscientist at Stanford University. Another book I read several years which is a good introduction and instruction manual for lucid dreaming is Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, by David Waggoner. All these phenonemona when used properly, can be of great mental, spiritual, and physical benefits to yourself and those around you.

  • I’ve only started having this.. I’m 51 and been under huge stress. I have it both before I sleep and when I wake up. Its like I open my eyes and I’m in a strange room and I don’t recognise any of it. Or it’s my room and the walls have been moved? Doesn’t sound terrifying, but it is. I thought I was going mad as I don’t have anything like this through day, other than being exhausted. I dread nightime. Years ago they thought I had ms as the discs at back of my eye are pale, but eventually said I didn’t. I’m sure mine is caused by stress and going through the menopause? Has anyone else going through stress or menopause had this?
    So glad to read I’m not alone in this!

  • I thought I was alone. I wake up every single night and see images of people standing near me or looking at me! I will wake up and see a little boy sitting next to my mini fridge, a man smiling at me , snakes, spiders all over dangling in front of me , a women in the corner of my room . So many things that scared me and reading this makes me feel so much more normal that I’m not alone !

    • I remember when I was young I had what I called “pictures”. I would feel awake, but there were things there that no one else could see. I saw a giant beetle coming down on me, a silhouetted man in a fedora, and ballerinas. Thankfully, it stopped as I got older. Like you, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has experienced it.

    • me too. I have avoided sleeping because I felt someone leaning over my bed, not to mention I saw a man hanging like by a noose on the other end of my room and he slowly rotated… not gonna lie, I cried. I was extremely terrified. Other times its hands reaching out of y closet or some massive animal crawling along my floor. Last night it was a slender man looking fellow who was pulling my door shut… needless to say I hate the dark because of these things.

      • I also have experienced this, and it is very unsettling. I am only 14 and my parents have helped me, and I hope that the visions don’t continue. Three expirences I have had, some who last for 3 nights in a row, have caused me to be afraid of the dark.

        1: Footsteps. I have heard what sounds like several people walking around just outside my bedroom door. (I keep it closed and you’ll see why later) This auditory hallucination was one of the least frightening because I assumed it was my cat, which later was proved incorrect. This also did not effect my sleep.

        2: An assortment of noises and words. I was awoken at two in the morning to a very loud and unusual clanking in my vent. This was followed by an hour of footsteps above me (I sleep in the basement) Birds at 3:00 AM, crickets, drawers and chairs being moved, beeping, and my father’s voice, asking me if I was awake. I was terrified and began to stare at my door, when my entire room dissipated and words appeared in my peripheral vision, which I could not read. None of these things were real, but the feeling I had was so terrifying that I Cried. This lasted for an hour and a half or more, and I lost a lot of sleep.

        3: Shadow Figures. This Hallucination has affected me very deeply, and occurred over a period of 3 days. One night (The first) I was awoken by a nightmare, only to see a silhouette of a girl eerily standing at my door, which I had left open to allow some light in until I fell asleep( my dad would turn it off after then) I just sat and stared at it for an hour, then cried until my parents came in to see what was the matter. This time, the figure just stood there but, the second night, I was awoken again, and the figure stood for a while, I tried to dismiss it because I had seen it before, but then it began to walk towards me. I screamed and my parents, Once again, were able to come and help me. The third night it came to me in a horrid dream, it was swiftly moving and rapidly getting older around my bed. I was awoken by the nightmare only to see more people moving outside my door. I lost lots of sleep and still feel paranoid in the dark.

        After each of these occurrences I have felt very nervous during my waking hours. I still fear going to sleep because the last one just recently occurred. Days afterward, getting a good night’s sleep is a gift. I am not sure if it is a problem or not, but i’m glad to see i’m not the only one

  • I have woken up hearing bumps or tapping and footsteps, like someone visiting outside a window. It startled me, but I’ve begun to realize it must be a hallucination. I realized this when I spoke of this to my grandfather and he admitted back to me that he hears the doorbell ring and wakes up in the middle of the night. He wakes up at 3 every morning, whereas I have woken up at various times, sometimes 2, 3, or just after 3. For this reason the “witching hour” had become a topic of interest as I had great feelings of fear upon waking to these sensations.

  • I used to get this every night. I still do occasionally. I would “see” people that were clearly dead, or I would see people that triggered traumatic memories. A few times i tried to turn and face the wall to try and go to sleep but I would think that whatever I’d imagine was standing next to me, breathing on me, about to reach out and touch me. It was horrible. I found using led lights helped until I stopped “seeing” them every night. I wish I found this website earlier though :)

  • I used to have this when i was younger, i would see lines, text, the shape of the eye of horus, tiny spirals floating and the worst one for me was floating spiders. It makes me shiver even remembering it. And i was too scared to go back to sleep in case i would wake up again and have the hallucinations, so i just kept my eyes open but that seemed to make it worse, because the more i stare into soace, the more the floating spiders would multiply in front of my eyes. And one night it got so bad that everywhere i looked i just saw spiders, i couldn’t look at my mom’s face as there was a spider on her forehead, and i made the mistake of looking down at my own torso and seeing a large spider sitting on top of it. Worst night of my life but weirdly after that it all stopped. I think these events lasted about 3 years.

  • I dread going to bed at night! Last night I woke to see a monkey (yes, a monkey) hovering over my window, with something rolled up and gritting it’s teeth at me. I have seen ghoulish looking things coming out of my closet door, weird colours, dots all over the ceiling, etc. I am extremely exhausted.

  • I’ve been experiencing this for as long as I can remember, I’ve never known how to explain it but I’m glad I googled the sentence I did. It makes so much sense, I have MS and brain lesions because of it

    I’ve been experiencing this excessive daytime sleepiness since I was like 14? My parents always blamed it on everything that popped into their head, but it’s not just being tired, whenever it happens I physically cant keep my eyes from rolling back into my head. It happens a lot on the bus home from college, my mum will text me asking where I am so she can extimate when to have dinner ready, and in my head I’ve typed out a cohesive reply and sent it, but then I drift back 20 minutes later and I’ve typed out a sentence of nonsense and not sent it.

    I’m forever dreaming that there’s hundreds of spiders in my bed and I fly out trying to avoid them, only to turn on the light and see nothing. One night I dreamt that there was a cat stuck behind my headboard, and my parents found me at 4am trying to pull my king-size away from the wall trying to rescue it, shouting the whole time.

    I remember when I was 8, I was staying at my grandparent’s with my sister and we were sharing the same bed because we were both still young and there was no other options. I woke up at something like 3am and had a conversation with an old woman sitting in the corner of the room, looking for her ring. I can vividly remember this happening, but I always thought I was just remembering a dream. But the next morning, my sister confronted me and started shouting at me, because I woke her in the middle of the night, my eyes open and apparently lucid, asking her to help find the ring for the lady standing in the corner and terrified her.

    It happens all the time, and my parents always thought I was just having nightmares, but then it happened last year on a family holiday. We were staying in a little villa in Tenerife, the type that was part of a big apartment complex surrounding a pool, and my sister and I were sleeping on pullout beds in the living/dining room.
    I remember a figure crawling from a huge hole in the ceiling, and over a table, till it stood at the foot of my bed. It then started speaking to me, and I can’t remember what I said, but then I remember my sister sitting up and looking over at me, talking but I couldn’t hear what she said. Suddenly all the lights are on and my mum’s sat on my bed, asking me what happened; apparently my sister woke up and saw me sat up in bed, talking to something at the foot of my bed.
    She asked what was going on, and I apparently turned to her and said “he’s got it all now, he’s taken it” and she starters freaking out because she thought someone had broken in. Apparently I started shouting at her in a voice that was uncharacteristically deep for my own, at which point my mum came running because she thought there was a man shouting in our apartment and that we were being burgled.

    The thing is though, every time this happens, I remember all of it, I’m able to describe things about what happens that I couldn’t have known had I been asleep or sleepwalking. And when it happens, it just feels like I’m dreaming, apart from I’m sat upright in bed, in my bedroom, talking to someone about something mundane.

    However recently, they’ve gotten a lot more vivid and violent; I had a “dream” the other night that was far too graphic to share, and it honestly frightens me because if what happened in the dream was real and I was in fact sleepwalking and acting it out, the consequences would be horrific. Yet I also convinced that I haven’t left my bed, I sort of set up a weird maze of obstacles on my floor so that if I was sleepwalking I’d trip.

    But recently these “dreams” have started getting really violent, which they haven’t ever been. Last night I dreamt that someone had my pinned against the wall by my neck and was choking me, and I woke up face down in my bed gasping for air and crying my eyes out. I don’t want to see what happens if they get worse, but I don’t know how to raise the issue with my consultant, we’ve always assumed it was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and bad sleep hygeine even though I’ve done all of the courses and it’s not that.

    I don’t know what to do

    • Be honest. That’s the only thing anyone can do that’s ever helpful. If you’re afraid of what you might do in your sleep you need to express that to those who sleep around you and whoever is trying to help you. I’ll try to be very clear here. You know better than anyone else the situation you’re in. To the point you can’t accurately describe it to others so you have to be the one to take responsibility for that knowledge. Do not put yourself or others in a dangerous situation because you’re afraid to take control. This is your mind. You are both the programer and the spectator. It sounds to me like it’s time to stop watching the nightmare and seek help to put yourself back in the drivers seet. I hope you get back on top ✌?

    • Wow, this is so interesting.
      I was “misdiagnosed” with MS almost 8 years ago. I have multiple deep white matter lesions on the brain, but after extensive testing with top of the line drs in NYC we have ruled virtually everything out. Now I just go every 2 years for an updated ct scan to make sure the lesions are not spreading.
      My symptoms abated for a long time. Everyone thinks I was nuts for saying it, but I truly believe in mind over matter, and felt quite possibly that my very tangible symptoms could have been exacerbated by the actual thought of having MS.
      Though this past summer I woke up around 5 am, and thought I was having a stroke, I’m only 32. I saw bright colors when I rolled my eyes, and thought I heard an audible popping noise in my head. I tried to get out of the bed but felt that dropping feeling, so I stayed still until it all went away. I went to my nuero we did some testing and ruled out stroke. I did not go back for a ct scan like she requested because I try to limit how many of those I do in a certain time frame. Nothing else occurred, until last night. I dozed off at 11pm and woke up to an old woman in a yellow shawl standing over me, I’ve never seen “shadow people” or any of those other things that come up in a google search. This scared me more than anything. I googled the correlation of “night figures” and aneurysms, and ended up here. I don’t believe in spirits, or ghosts, or anything supernatural, but I cannot get this figure out of my head.
      I wonder if there is any other research on brain lesions and nightmares or what ever you could call this

  • I suffered from this in my late twenties and early thirties until my boyfriend literally was at his breaking point from me waking up screaming and scaring him to death. I would typically see bugs or spiders in the bed and would be – what to me felt like 100% awake – convinced they were real and there. It would happen monthly, sometimes more and started to escalate over time. I finally asked my doctor about it when I started to see figures looming over the foot of my bed. I could handle the bugs but this was terrifying. I’m posting this because this helped me and it’s worth a shot. I saw a homeopathic doctor and they gave me a dose of I believe some kind of cobra snake venom. I don’t have the name still of what I took but it worked. I have had maybe one or two episodes since but it’s been years now since I took this and I feel very much cured. You don’t have to live with this.

  • mine are always really sinister to be honest. I’m quite stuck on what to do because of how bad they can be sometimes. A good example of mine occurred around 5am last night (warning this could scare some of you)… I must’ve woken up and been asking this thing I was seeing in my room who it was for a minute, according to my friend who was with me at the time, I grabbed him and started screaming bloody murder. I remembered screaming for dear life, this evil looking demon like creature crawling towards me mumbling and bones cracking, whilst this dark black figure lingered behind just observing. I was beyond petrified. my friend claimed he saw this too but I feel as if Id just scared him into believing something was there by my manic actions and intense shrieking and crying for whatever it was to go away.

    I honestly dont know what this could come under, my night terrors last a minute or two but this went on for nearly 10 minutes all together according to my friend, and quite frankly, I am too scared to sleep tonight.

  • I have had this since I was a child. When I was a kid I had a huge Mickey Mouse holding out his hands and stars arched from one hand to the other (now it’s called a fathead) anyway. I would watch the stars dance and move before falling asleep. Now what I see mostly is lights in a grid on the walls and ceiling and I am sure that it is the true reality when I am in the state. Other times I have seen giant glow in the dark spiders on glow in the dark webs, or other bugs climbing up my wall. Once when camping I woke up to a large bang and the planets were colliding together and exploding in wondrous lights and fireworks I was sure that my bf would wake up to see it to. A few weeks ago I woke up to see claw marks gouged into the walls that was freaky.

  • I have experienced this for as long as I can remember. It is usually pretty passive and just distortions of the regular shapes of things in the dark or nonsensical images before falling asleep. I’ve always attributed it with lucid dreaming, because that’s how I always dream, and usually only see and hear things when I briefly wake up to roll over in bed coming out of and into a new dream; sometimes things just follow me out of the dream while I’m transitioning lol A very common thing is a sound I hear as I cross the threshold from being awake to dreaming and it sounds like one or two seconds of rolling your car window down at 100mph. I’m aware of these things as hallucinations and it’s often amusing to me… until it isn’t. Not often but sometimes it’s horrifying. Absolutely terrible and down right fucked up. The worst elements of nightmares, the voices of things hunting you, or seeing what scared you out of sleep in front of you or always in peripheral vision, and sometimes bad smells like from a fire all after you wake up; worse still hallucinations of those things touching or pushing me as I’m trying to fall back asleep. Dying is pretty common in dreams when I experience things like this after I wake up. It can start a trend of bad dreams where I end up dying at the end of them all. On those nights it tends to become a bad feedback loop of fear until I absolutely give up on sleep altogether and just stay up no matter what time it is. It’s very easy to become paranoid and hard to convince yourself you’re alone in empty rooms. I have no advice that will help you on nights like this one except I ALWAYS use rational thought to dispel these horrors. Keep your head screwed on. I’m not saying it’ll stop or you’ll be able to fall back asleep but just remember it’s all a dream ✌?

  • I have both sleep paralysis and hallucinations ,and they both suck let me tell you. When I sleep and dream,alot of times I become conscious of the fact that I’m dreaming, at time it can be fun to explore . But sometimes I’m not in control, im stuck in this dream trying to wake my self up . Usually my face is stuck to the floor in these dreams, in real life it’s the pillow. Then the room begins to slowly fill up with water and I end up drowning, a few times not just one ! Untill I finally wake up sweaty sometimes with out air ,it freaks me out to the point I almost can’t fall back to sleep . The hallucinations are disturbing as well, I usually see a huge rat or hairy spider right in front of my face. I always jump up yelling I never get used to it . Also see bugs and spiders walking on my walls ,the clothes from my closet moving and dancing as if being worn by ghost ,its super freaky .

  • Sometimes when my alarm goes off in the morning and I open my eyes I see what looks to be a spider crawling on the wall but there’s never anything there. Usually only happens if I’m startled awake though.

    • I saw something similar but it was while trying to fall asleep and now it is actually disturbing because now Um seeing something in lights going upwards l

  • I have been trying to find an article explain what I feel for a while but i couldn’t find a write words to write on a search bar, I have been taking sleeping pills for a long time now almost a year , I was taking them before for couple years and I quite and then I’m back again , at first I used
    To take couple pills and rest ,then it didn’t work after a while so I took more and more then I started combin 2 different sleeping pills to make me sleep faster and deeper, at the beginning I didn’t experience anything as I put my light off and go straight to bed , after sometime as of now I take the pills dose which is too high and it take quite sometime for it to kick me in bed so I stay up watching movies on my iPad while the room is dark and shortly after 10-15 minutes I start seeing weird things in the dark not around me but on my own body my own hands and fingers something like wires ,bugs around my hand ,breaking fingers,nails coming off and on of my hands many visual hallucinogens and it makes me so scared I get my phone and opens flash light and I see nothing then I put off flash light and I start seeing it again , it’s very disturbing and scary , I tried to quite sleeping pills and sleep normally but doesn’t work sometimes I try and I end up sleeping late after hopless trial and take the pills and finally sleep and wake up tired , I also try to decrease my dose which is 10 pills a night but I feel it doesn’t work or maybe I don’t give it a time to do so, I also experience some memory shortage after taking the pills and lack of speaking , It sometimes take me a good 20 or 30 minutes to reply a text message from a friend at night because I’m lost and I don’t know what to say and keep re-read the text to make sure it’s correct some othertime i ignore and I don’t reply because I don’t know what’s going on , o catch up myself texting my bestfriend last weekend at night out of the blue telling here that I’m depressed and I wanna suicide and she got
    Crazy and called me but I was sleeping next morning she is telling me o read the text and I don’t know why I said that , yes I’m having some difficult times and depression and I think about that a lot but I never thought I would text someone and tell them that.. I’m so scared and know what to do

    • This is a side effect of sleeping pills. I would suggest you see a doctor 10 pills to put you to sleep seem excessive.

  • I have had hallucinations since I was in elementary school . I am currently 15 and they are so bad , they use to be worse and some nights they get that way but I haven’t had them In a way to that extreme . I hallucinate music when it’s not there , someone calling my name, voices or mine talking and suddenly getting loud startling me . I usually at night when I’m trying to sleep (I have insomnia ) can see figure or things in the corners of my eyes but when I look nothing’s there . I’m so paranoid of sleep paralysis I will never sleep on my back and continuously have to whisper quietly one word to myself or move a finger when I’m trying to sleep to make sure I can still move . This has been all I can remember all my life and I’m so glad to know I’m not crazy . Recently my sister has said I talk in my sleep and I will wake up crying out of no where or when she talks to me when I’m half asleep I will say such weird things that make no sense and I think to myself that was so weird or think it’s not and when I’m fully awake remember it and cringe . I’m afraid of the dark because I can’t see what’s in it and I feel like someone’s with me and am afraid I will see more things so I usually sleep with a lamp on or a little light . I know this fear is irrational and that these hallucinations aren’t not real but trust me if I could stop them from Happening I would . These two past years I’ve been sleeping on my sofa to scared to go to my room because that’s where most of these happen. When I was smaller I was so terrified of the dark but shared a room with my sister my mom would force me to turn of the light and I would cover myself with my blanket including my face , crumble myself up , facedown on my pillow and cry or think of something else usually never sleeping . My hallucinations will happen when I haven’t slept at all due to my insomnia , before I sleep, during , after . Basically the only time I feel safe sleeping is in the day time . Also other hallucinations I have are dark figures or jump scares or shadows , like two days ago I seen a weird face slowly moving towards me while I was in the middle of sleeping . These weird hallucinations effect me so much I get mini heart attack’s over little normal things when not hallucinating and am extremely PARANOID to the extreme where at night I have this fishtank that’s reflective and I think I will see someone in the hallway looking at me so I cover it with a blanket . Another weird thing I do is go around the house before it gets dark just before it’s about to and close all the curtains perfectly and turn on all the lights like in my room or kitchen . This became a normal thing to me I never thought anyone else suffered from it and i just need advice and suggestions or similar stories because this is not the way to live i can’t take this i can’t describe it to anyone else , have never talked about it to anyone else and today when I stumbled to this article I knew god had heard my prayer .

    • I have experienced these things as well since I was a child. I am 35 and need a night light I do not like the things in the shadows. I too suffered from Insomnia for a vary long time. Maybe ask your doctor for a sleep study let the doctor know how much it effects you.

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