Sleep Hallucinations: Things That Go Bump In The Night

photo of a woman in bed experiencing hypnagogic hallucinations

Do strange images of geometric shapes, people or animals appear out of nowhere as you lie in bed at night? Perhaps you’ve heard voices or noises which can’t possibly be real?

If so, it could be that you’ve experienced what’s known as sleep hallucinations.

Despite leading to the occasional leap out of bed in sheer terror, they are usually harmless. And many people experience them at some point in their lives – including me.

My nocturnal flying geometric manifestations

As a child, multicolored geometric shapes would regularly swoop across my bedroom, just as I was drifting off to sleep. I remember simultaneously 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 my mathematical manifestations.

Perhaps I should be grateful for my geeky hallucinations – especially compared to the disturbing experiences some people have.

What are sleep hallucinations?

Sleep hallucinations are imaginary experiences that happen during the transition between being awake and asleep, and can feel confusingly real.

They are also referred to as hypnagogic hallucinations if they occur while you’re falling asleep, or hypnopompic hallucinations if they happen while waking up.

The hallucinations are usually visual, such as seeing shapes or figures in the dark. But they can also involve your other senses.

The hallucinations can be vivid and frightening in some cases. If you see a giant creature in your room or hear a scary voice, it’s understandable that some people will jump out of bed and turn the light on to check what’s going on!

image explaining that hypagogic hallucinations occur while falling asleep and hypnopompic hallucinations while waking up

How many people have sleep hallucinations?

A commonly quoted statistic in medical articles comes from research conducted in 1996. The team interviewed 4972 people in the United Kingdom by telephone. They found that 37% had experienced hypnagogic hallucinations. And 12.5% had experienced hypnopompic hallucinations.

In 2000, another team of researchers surveyed 13,057 people and found that 38.7% had experienced hallucinations at some point during the day or night. 24.8% of the sample had experienced hallucinations at sleep onset, and 6.6% upon waking.

A sign of Narcolepsy

For some people, sleep hallucinations can be a sign of narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder which involves sudden daytime episodes of:

  • Unexpectedly falling asleep
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Hypnagogic hallucinations

If you have these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice.

Symptoms

The main symptom is seeing or hearing things while falling asleep or waking up that aren’t real.

Researchers believe that the most common type of hallucination is visual. However, it’s possible to experience hallucinations that correspond to any of your senses:

  • Visual – such as geometric patterns, shapes or light flashing. Sometimes complex forms like animals or people.
  • Auditory – voices talking, phone or doorbell ringing, music, hissing, humming or whistling.
  • Olfactory – pleasant or unpleasant smells.
  • Tactile – insects crawling on the skin, rubbing, stroking, tapping or tickling sensations. Perhaps also feeling weightless, distortions in the body, flying.
image of a woman in bed with patterns and animal forms around her

Not the same as nightmares

Telling the difference between dreaming and hallucinating isn’t always obvious in the moment. But sleep hallucinations are not the same as nightmares.

When you wake up from a nightmare, you’ll know you were asleep (even if it takes a little while to come back to reality).

Sleep hallucinations, however, can feel like they are really happening. You know you’re awake, but you’re not convinced it’s merely your imagination playing tricks on you.

Coexisting with sleep paralysis

Sleep hallucinations sometimes happen during an episode of sleep paralysis.

During sleep paralysis, you might be unable to move your body in bed, which in itself is often frightening.

The hallucinations that accompany it can range from seeing a presence in the room to seeing and feeling a creature sitting on you.

Causes

The International Classification of Sleep Disorders manual suggests two causes related to brain function, though also states that more research is needed:

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

Health websites, such as healthline.com, suggest that sleep hallucinations can be caused by other conditions, such as:

  • Sleep disorders like narcolepsy or sleep paralysis
  • A medical condition or medication use
  • A mental health disorder, such as schizophrenia
  • Substance abuse

Risk factors

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, they are more common in children and young adults. Women might experience them slightly more often than men.

Some factors are thought to increase the likelihood or severity of the hallucinations, including:

  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Mood disorders like bipolar disorder or depression
  • Insomnia
  • Epileptic seizures

Research shows that fragmented sleep is associated with more hallucinations

In 2021, a team of researchers published an interesting study of sleep hallucinations (you can read it in full on nature.com).

Based on an online survey of 10,299 people, they found that poor sleep is associated with the occurrence of hallucinations – a point already confirmed by previous studies.

However, they further showed that fragmented sleep, i.e. regular wakings, is related to hallucinations. And that fragmented sleep is also related to the content, frequency, duration, and associated distress.

Interestingly then, people who had better sleep had less negative and less disruptive hallucinations when they did have them.

So the more you have them, the worse they might be. It seems to me to be a good motivation to tackle any factors you know that make you wake up more often in the night.

Treatment

Do you need to see a doctor?

If you’re experiencing anxiety or losing sleep because of regular sleep hallucinations, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor or sleep specialist.

They would ask you about your hallucinations and look at your medical history and other factors like medication and lifestyle. They might decide that an overnight sleep study is needed to find out more.

They would also look at the possibility of another condition causing the episodes. And if they find one, give you the appropriate treatment.

Worried about your mental health?

If you suddenly start having hallucinations, it’s understandable that you might question your mental health. This is a point I’ve seen raised in the comments below many times, so you wouldn’t be alone in thinking something was ‘wrong’ with you.

It’s worth noting that if it only ever happens when you’re in bed trying to sleep, there’s a good chance it’s harmless sleep hallucinations. Perhaps it’s a sign you’re under a lot of stress lately, for example, but it might not be an indicator that something is wrong beyond that.

Having said that, if you have hallucinations during the day, or other symptoms that are making you feel anxious or confused about your mental health, then it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. And if you’re still not convinced the nighttime hallucinations are benign, talk to your doctor to get a professional opinion.

If this line of thinking feels relevant to you, there’s a good article on psychologytoday.com in which a clinical psychologist talks a patient having sleep problems rather than a schizophrenic illness.

What can you do to help reduce them?

Here are some ideas which might help keep the hallucinations at bay:

  • Get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule and don’t allow yourself to become sleep deprived.
  • Avoid recreational drugs.
  • 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 have auditory hallucinations, listening to music, radio or a podcast in bed might help.
  • If you find yourself focusing on visual hallucinations, try to re-focus your mind on something else. 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 an activity you find 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.

Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations are a normal part of life for many people. Once you’ve ruled out any serious illness or disorder, 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.

Your thoughts

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

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

1,643 Comments

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  1. My dream is a someone wakes me by shaking my shoulder saying wake up there’s been a crash there’s been a crash saying it faster and faster. The flashing lights also wake me up. When I look round the person is burned and there are two disfigured people talking at the end of my bed. Then they look at me.

  2. If I fall asleep watching TV, when I wake up the people on the TV look like cartoons. I remember when it first happened I was like, why did someone make a cartoon character of the news reader. It fades after a while. I also see people at the side of my bed – they usually look like Shakespeare. Also, old woman right up to my face. Lucid dreams, flying dreams, sleep paralysis, incubus. The latter two not for ages now. I looked out the window after waking one night and everywhere looked like Minecraft blocks – it was amazing! That faded after a while too.

  3. I always see different people both male or female but only one per vision. At first I thought they were guardian angels watching over me. They were solid in appearance not ghostly appearing in color and detail but would fade away in seconds. I don’t recognize any of the faces but the ones I’ve seen thus far have been elderly over 70 with grey hair. When they first started, they would appear close up face to face-it would startle me at first but then they would fade away as quickly as they appeared to be harmless. Recently they have started to appear by the bed-yesterday an elderly gray haired lady dressed in green waved at me so I waved back before she disappeared-sometimes I even manage to say hello before they disappear-wish they could stay longer so I could find out more about them and why they are there watching me-which I don’t mind if they don’t physically harm me.

  4. Hello all of you beautiful people!

    I am so happy that I have found this site.
    Let’s start off. I have had anxiety/panic all of my life and back then ( 49 yrs ) they didn’t really know what it was or how to handle it.
    Diagnosed with IBS, Colitis etc.
    I have always had vivid dreams, I mean full color, being able to fly was my absolute favorite, and woke up feeling elated. Pick up where I left off the night before. Controlling my dreams was always easy until I got older. I have also had tinnitus all of my life and just assumed everyone heard the same thing.

    So what brought me to this site was last night I could not fall asleep. It was like I had the energy of the teenager I was when working. (My brain not my body)
    So finally I started to doze off and like it has happened on other occasions, almost like a little zap to my brain, I really don’t even know how to describe it. I opened my eyes and about 3 feet away there is a bird gray in color with white spots on its wings but flying like a hummingbird looking for the nectar of a flower. It was slightly darting towards me, thinking back it wasn’t aggressive but it scared the crap out of me. I actually swatted at it sitting up wide awake.
    I have had the spider a few times over the past couple of years. Ever-changing black ball of legs Yuck! I will embrace and hope for this bird the next time.
    I just want to thank you all to be brave enough to post your statements.
    I was really and truly thinking I was crazy.
    I told my husband today I need to get a brain scan.

    We do have the below that run in one or both sides of the family. Narcolepsy, Bi-Polar, Depression, Anxiety/Panic, Night Terrors.
    Not sure if that helps but…
    Wishing all of you the best!

  5. This has happened to me a few times. Always people or things in my room. There is one time that I remember very, VERY vividly though. I was staying in a hotel with my husband and I woke up around 4:00 in the morning. When I looked up my husband was standing with his back to me at the foot of my bed. I started to push myself up out of bed to reach towards him but I got this really bad feeling like I shouldn’t touch him. So, I laid back down and in doing so my arm hit something warm next to me. I looked over and found my husband was sleeping next to me. I looked back and forth between where I thought he was standing and where he was multiple times and I could of sworn that his doppelganger was still there. I hid underneath the covers and tried to do some meditation breathing. When I moved the covers away the copy of my husband that was standing next to the bed was gone. I did not sleep very well after that. Honestly, it feels amazing to read some of these comments. It makes me feel less insane.

  6. It’s nice to have a name for it, tactile, although it’s not bugs crawling with me. A couple of months ago is when I first started noticing but it has happened sporadically in the past. In the beginning, I would be woken by what felt like a small animal walking close to or next to my head and then down around my legs and the rest of my body. I cannot see anything on my bed but as I’m trying to go to sleep I can feel the covers move, almost like I am being touched. The feeling is like a heavy settling of the bed covers. I’ve really been doubting my sanity so it is nice to see others experience sleep issues similar to mine.

    • While sitting in my chair in the living room or laying in my bed, it feels like something is moving underneath me. I would fall asleep and I would wake with something or someone in my face. Sometimes it’s scary, the idea that someone is in my bed or house is frightening.

  7. I’m here because I just got woken up by being totally convinced I saw a spider crawling on the ceiling. I saw it crawling slowly across the ceiling above me, about the size of half my palm, black, and actually jumped out of bed, scurried in the dark to turn the light on, and tried to look for it but it wasn’t there. It took me a good 10 seconds to realise I’d had some sort of hallucination. This wasn’t the first time it had happened, but it always seems to be a type of spider. It’s happened about four times in the last two years that I can recall. The first time was when I was traveling around Japan in a van, and sometimes bugs would crawl in somehow, but they were usually small and harmless. I think they must’ve gotten to me somehow because that’s when the first time started. I had this vision of a small but dangerous looking spider dangling down on its web right above my face. It shocked me so much I squirmed out from under my pillow, pushed my entire body towards the back of the van (almost physically hurting myself in the small space), grabbed my phone flash light and tried to find it before it went into my sheets (this was middle of the night), but I could no longer see it. I tussled my sheets around but it was no where to be found. That was the first time, and I always thought it was my subconscious having that thought constantly in the back of my mind that a bug of spider would make it into my car somehow and would bite me. It certainly doesn’t help that I’ve actually had giant bugs crawl near my head for real, but I usually find this during the day after almost having a bloody heart attack. I just don’t know why I then hallucinate spiders at night so clearly that I wake up in a jolt and spend a good half a minute looking for it. Very weird!

  8. How about the little red dots, the ones you can learn to control with practice. As a small child, I saw them while wide awake. Forming images like planets before I was even aware of outer space. It’s called the void. They program us to forget. Humans are more powerful than we are led to believe.

    Sleep paralysis, yea had that, didn’t know what it was. Like dreaming with My eyes open and seeing My room but also dream imagery. Upon full awakening, the only change is the dream imagery just instantly disappears, no moment of darkness, continuous vision. Often being attacked by something, have awakened in terror a few times.

  9. I literally just woke today at 5 AM from what felt was real. It started with me feeling like I was just waking up and my arms were in front of me lying on my side. I then felt someone holding some of my hair then I realized my arms are in front of me. (wide eyed). As I open my eyes, I see a dark mist over top of me and a weird noise like wind. I try to move and I can not. I get the sense that it is a negative energy or spirit of some sorts. I kept my eyes closed because I didn’t want to see it but just wanted to wish/pray it away. I keep trying to move the covers but it felt like it was holding me down and I couldn’t move. I then started visualizing white light around me for protection and the presence felt like it didn’t like it. So I open my eyes just enough to see and I could still see the black misty thing so I immediately shut them and try not to fight hoping it would just stop when suddenly I visualized a sunny day and open my eyes and it was gone. Turned on the lights and contemplated going back to sleep. Look at my fitbit to see if I was just in REM and it showed I was in light sleep for 20 minutes but awake from 4:52 – 5. This happened to me about two years ago the same way except it was when I was about to doze off to go to bed. NOTE: I did not feel like I was dreaming during this. I did go back to bed and did have a dream and my Fitbit did say I was in REM then.

  10. I definitely feel more comfort knowing it’s not just me reading all of these comments. Quite a lot of times I will wake up in the middle of the night with my eyes wide open seeing a RED MIST in the corner of my bedroom on the ceiling and within it what looks like a silver octopus robot. It’s moving its tentacles towards me as if it was doing something to me. It disappears after a couple seconds in my vision. And I always hear a high pitched noise in my right ear when this happens. I have also seen what looks like Egyptian ancient language on some sort of block or sarcophagus of some sort. Maybe it’s hallucinations, but maybe ( and I know this sounds crazy to most) it’s some sort of Artificial Intelligence that wants our fears for some purpose. It almost gives me the feeling of being spied on. I have never seen spiders though, but I am not scared of spiders at all. My husband collects tarantulas in fact. It’s definitely very strange and really makes me wonder.

  11. I wake 2-3 times a night, turn the light on, see there’s nobody in my room, then can’t get back to bed. Its so frustrating – sooo over it – always people in my room, someone was loading presents on my bed the other night.

  12. I actually enjoy these funny shapes and feel disappointed if I don’t see them. When I touched one, it wound around my finger. Worried I couldn’t get it off. But it did. I enjoy the variety of things being presented. I am a little envious that I don’t see spiders. I love spiders.

  13. I see people. Sometimes they are standing by my bed, other times their face is right above mine. Every time I jump away and scream. This has been occurring for years; not every night, not even every week. But sometimes it happens every night for a while. It has been terrible the past few nights – waking up 5 or 6 times per night seeing people standing around my bed. Last night, for the first time ever, I was afraid to go to sleep because I did not want to wake up frightened. While trying to stay awake, I had my eyes closed, and I would then open them to make sure I was awake, and several times I still saw people, even though I felt like I was awake and not sleeping! After reading all of these other posts, I feel a little better, and I am thankful that I do not see spiders! Thanks everyone for sharing – I am glad to know that I am not crazy, and that the people that I am seeing are not ghosts!

  14. I am 52 yrs old, for the past 10 or so years I have suffered from Night Terrors or hallucinations while asleep. They used to be mainly spiders or bugs where I would wake up my husband, turn on the lights and search the room. Later they became strange mists or shapes mostly red in color but threatening somehow. Now, they are people, always coming toward me either beside my bed or above or on my bed. They are so detailed and they are people I don’t recognize. I am really feeling attacked in my sleep, I feel I may have a heart attack the way my heart pounds and I shake after seeing them. My eyes are open and my bedroom is as it always is, but with these images in it. I really feel better reading all these other comments. I guess I’m not crazy or being attacked by ghosts. I hope!!!

  15. I’ve noticed a lot of people saying they see lots of spiders. I only see one spider upon waking, its legs are always wriggling and as I watch, it gets larger and larger. I have to keep blinking to make it fade away. What gets me is how detailed it is, the mind is an amazing thing. Sometimes I see squiggly writing which kinda morphs into the wriggly spider. When falling asleep, I often see flashing images in my mind’s eye, I quite enjoy it, it’s entertaining because I’ve no idea what’s coming, it’s like some kind of weird show and it’s always a good sign because I know it means I’m close to falling asleep.

  16. Amazing to read everyone’s experiences.

    While going to sleep, opening my eyes after laying for a while, or waking at night I have seen (usually floating in the air near me): unfamiliar people in vivid color, misty face, misty hand, things that look and crawl like spiders on walls, floating octopus in a metallic color, mist clouds, red sparkly metallic cloud, grey or dark orbs floating just over or beside me (often), green little orbs lying on my bed, the list just gets longer with different “objects”.. sometimes I reach out for them or even swing my hand straight through them without any interference. They usually disappear in a second or two after realizing it is there. I also don’t do medications, I’m healthy, meditate almost every day, and have no illnesses or mental conditions. I noticed they show more often and more clear and vivid after evening meditations.

    I often try to observe myself when I see something, and it’s usually more puzzling than scary, but when an object as clear as day is floating in front of you for more than 3 seconds, the heart really starts pounding and you start to wonder what is going on.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing.

  17. Ok, so reading the comments and it all sounds fascinating…I have a question if someone can answer?

    These hallucinations, are they visual as in something you see with your eyes (or at least perceive to) or are they in your head as in you have your eyes closed and are seeing a picture of yourself in your room with the spiders or whatever there?

    I ask because I see images of people as I go to sleep, mostly faces, but my eyes are closed, so I know I am not seeing them with my eyes, but I see them in my head, so is what I am seeing a form of hypnogogic hallucination?

    • I also see people while my eyes are closed as I am trying to fall asleep. I wonder if it is spirits trying to contact me or help them. I just tell them to go away and that usually works. Other times I have to concentrate on a white orb that I summons in my vision to fall asleep. I know, sounds crazy, but that’s my story… Hope it helps…

    • Hi GG, I think they’re more lucid dreams or vivid dreams. With my hypnopompic hallucinations, upon waking I am still seeing what I’d describe as an imprint of my dream, in that the image lingers after waking up and opening my eyes. It fades away after a few seconds but I’m well aware I’m awake and seeing it. It can be an object like a disembodied hand reaching out, or a person, or some other weird thing. Sometimes it is accompanied with a feeling of malevolence or threat and I rush to turn the light on, or jump out of bed, or hide under the covers thinking I’m being watched or it’s searching for me. It takes a few minutes to relax again. It’s very unnerving!

  18. Great news that my 2 experiences: 1. Blue brain glowing on the pillow beside me (like the commercials for Prevagen ) and 2. Blue VanGogh-like blue Starry Night Swirls above me when I woke up during the night. Both were right after deaths of people close to me.
    I thought I was nuts. I shared what happened with my brother and friends and they all thought I was slightly crazy for having these hallucinations. I wondered what was going on with me and am so grateful to know occasional sleep hallucinations are perfectly normal.

  19. I started having visual ones upon waking up. I see them with my eyes closed or open. They do fade away when I open my eyes though. I mostly see a living ivy plant, that looks like a cartoon. Kind of like what Alice in Wonderland sees. Sometimes it’s like vintage cartoons. I thought it was a side effect from taking occasional CBD gummies, so I stopped. I still see them sometimes, when I have trouble staying asleep. Thanks for posting this. I thought I was losing it!

    • OMG! I had hallucinations the other night and one looked like a vintage cartoon, specifically a moonwalker that had taken on human characteristics. The hallucinations happen when I’m ill (currently have covid). I wake up from a dream or nightmare, open my eyes, and see stuff going across the ceiling. Then I realize that I feel damp from sweating. This has happened several times in the last 4 years. Nothing before then.

      • I woke up last night with moving images all over my room. I realized I was sweating too. This has been happening for a few years…not every night, but occasionally. They are images that look like people, animals, and images that I have no idea what they are. They are not colors, but black and white moving images that are white outlined images that move all around. If I try to swish them away they are gone. Also, if I turn on a light they go away. It’s very scary. I thought maybe they were ghosts or that I was losing my mind, or maybe it was my medication. I’m not a good sleeper and I worry, especially as I lay my head down I start thinking. Is there a way to get rid of this? I also don’t know why I wake up – is it these images or these creatures or is it something else.

        • I also see little parasites or little black and white objects moving around on the walls or the furniture. It looks like kids. They might disappear for a minute but they are always around. I fall asleep, something wakes me up. At first, I didn’t believe it would hurt me but it woke me with arms going around my neck. I’ve been afraid ever since. It’s with me in the house all the time, help.

  20. I’m a single mom that has had these “visions” is what the baby daddy calls them. I started having them after my son was born it was a man a scary man standing over my son’s crib and spiders on the ceiling, they were scaring me so bad I was turning my flashlight out the bedroom light on. One time it was so bad I grabbed my son and ran outside in the middle of the night… and now I live alone and just had an experience where I called the cops in my half asleep scaredness… I told them a just of what happened without sounding too crazy and they told me to get rest but I feel crazy now. So reading these comments helped me alot I don’t feel AS crazy.

  21. Wow, glad I decided to look this up after all these years and learn I am not alone! I was starting to wonder if I had some type of schizophrenia that only happened at night! I oftentimes see spiders or snakes (from small to very large) and have to jump out of bed as they are usually coming toward me or in the bed. After checking the covers or floor or ceiling, with my heart thumping, I realize it’s just another one of these hallucinations and have to talk myself into getting back in bed. The other half of the time, I see red dots or “cameras” on the wall or ceiling and hear voices whispering about me and how they know I am awake, and it feels as though I am being spied on… very unsettling. So glad to find out I am not the only one who experiences this!

  22. It’s great to find these messages as I have been seeing things and wondered if there was something wrong with me. It started with a large spider I had just woken up in the morning. I was wondering how I was going to get it down from the ceiling when it gradually faded away. I was shocked. I told my GP and he just looked at me strangely. Then quite a while later I woke during the night and it was snowing!! I actually put my hands out to catch the flakes. I’ve seen spiders and snow since then but the other night I woke turned on my side and saw an absolutely hideous face, human but also pig-like, I called out but didn’t wake my husband. My heart was beating hard and I was petrified. I looked back and it had gone. I tell myself they are not real, but that was so frightening. I hope I never see anything like that again. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi mine are like bright sparkly snow loads of it where every I looked it only lasted a minute or so but it freaked me out

  23. I have had recurrent hallucinations since I was a child. I grew up in a house where things did go bump in the night. I recently stayed at my parent’s home over Thanksgiving and didn’t sleep well the entire time I was there. Last night I had the same sleep hallucination I did growing up. I hear a rushing sound, like loud wind, and feel pressure on top of me like something is trying to enter my body. Every time I have this dream I mentally tell it to get off me and start praying. I remember saying the Our Father and Hail Mary before waking up. The rushing sound slowly fades and the pressure goes as well, and then I wake up. What the heck is that???

  24. This was very helpful, to find out I am not crazy I see spiders on the ceiling every night it does not bother me anymore, just was trying to get all the information about this that I can. I think I am ok no now but hope someday I can stop seeing spiders crawl across my ceiling it’s just a weird thing when I wake up in the middle of the night and I see this. Thank you all for sharing your stories and for the information, Mary

  25. I see spiders a couple of times a week, I wake up to my husband saying no hunny there are no spiders, every time, I say oh yes I see them, right there and I still see them and then I realize I’m awake. It’s so real. We don’t look for them anymore. Just happened a few minutes ago, a herd of spiders crawling over my clothes rack, out of sight. I’m up for the rest of the evening now. blah!!!

    • I only experienced this once, huge spiders coming down from the ceiling towards me! While I was pregnant with my third child (20 years ago) I thought maybe it was to do with my hormones at the time. Very scary though!

  26. I often have auditory experiences, never visual. That happened this morning, and it was terrifying. It seems a lot of people see bugs/insects/animals. Mine was completely different, in that I saw several pairs of eyes staring at me. I couldn’t see anything other than about 20-30 pairs of floating/slightly glowing eyes. I think it has to be the sleep deprivation and lack of good nutrition. It’s been a transitional phase, and my goodness, it’s starting to take its toll. I had been feeling off anyway, and had resolved to adjust my sleep schedule and prioritize good nutrition. Seems I was on the right track.

  27. As a teenager I experienced something similar, when I would close my eyes I would see all different sized circles that would get bigger and move towards me, I would have to open my eyes quickly for it to go away.
    This went on for a couple of years, most nights, it was terrifying, as the circles were of a threatening nature like they were going to harm me if they got too close so I would always open my eyes before this. It would take between 1 -3 hours to eventually get to sleep, also one night was what felt like two hands on my feet that woke me, I thought it was my sibling messing around but the whole house was asleep. I haven’t experienced any of this again as an adult but think about it often.

  28. Every night when I went to bed, I would suddenly see spiders or beetles crawling across the ceiling. They would walk towards me, and stop right above my head. The fear of that giant bug dropping on me caused me to jump out of bed and run. I would stop in the living room, my heart beating out of my chest. I tried sleep medication, hot lavender baths before bedtime, more exercise during the day, warm milk before bed. Still each night the bugs would come. I finally asked for help. I asked my doctor. He said it is sleep hallucinations. He told me to sleep with a small flashlight.
    When you see the bugs, shine a light on them, and they will disappear. I did, and they did disappear. I did this every time it happened, and they went away. Until they went away altogether.

  29. Not the same as nightmares

    Telling the difference between dreaming and hallucinating isn’t always obvious in the moment. But sleep hallucinations are not the same as nightmares.

    When you wake up from a nightmare, you’ll know you were asleep (even if it takes a little while to come back to reality).

    Sleep hallucinations, however, can feel like they are really happening. You know you’re awake, but you’re not convinced it’s merely your imagination playing tricks on you.

  30. I get this too, but sometimes I wake up and actually find spiders. Last night I heard some scary voice, thought I saw something in my cupboard, something in curtains then when I finally turned the light on, a small black spider was on my ceiling.

    Had it before where I see these crazy things and found a spider in my bed (hadn’t touched me yet, so didnt stimulate my senses that way)

  31. I see spiders too. Sometimes I see weird shapes that I can’t explain.

    I’m not scared of spiders (I love them) but the first time I saw one I was shocked. Mine are the size of a small dog. The weirdest part is that my eyes track them as they move and then they just hide behind something or disappear slowly.

    The craziest experience was when there was one (a shape) right in front of my face. I woke up and then, like it got a shock, it flew away to the wall and disappeared. It felt like I was being watched. That was frightening.

    I’m so used to them now that I talk to them. I usually ask them what they want but I’ve never received any communication from them which makes it seem like a hallucination. Kind of thankful for that.

    • I was sleepy very earlier than usual. I usually go to bed at 3 or 4am because it’s hard for me to fall asleep. Tonight I got sleepy randomly at 9pm. I was trying to doze off and I vividly heard a woman clear as day speaking in my ear. No woman was around, I was just laying in my bed, but I was falling asleep. I fall asleep waking up multiple times, tossing and turning. It was just intended to be a nap but I fully woke up 4 hours later. When I woke up I saw a spider. It was cream colored and very detailed. I jumped and was moving around trying to push the spider away. I apparently said to my boyfriend help there is a spider and he looked around but there was no spider and it vanished in thin air! I know what I saw but I believe my dream was somehow coming to life like my eyes were open and I was still somehow asleep because I didn’t really understand what had happened. Nothing like this has happened to me before…I was scared and I’ve been very stressed out lately. Anxiety attacks that have progressively gotten worse along with an underlying medical condition that my insurance wouldn’t cover to diagnose properly. I feel like I was going crazy, but I know I’m not. Things have just felt very off and its hard not knowing what’s going on with your own body. I searched it up and it sounds a lot like sleep hallucinations, but I’m unsure if it’s that or another mental illness slowly creeping up on me. Only having this happen upon falling asleep or waking up points in the direction of some sort of dream-like state in my opinion. Should I seek medical help? I’m pretty embarrassed that I will sound whacko because no one seems to believe me about medical issues until something is for sure found. If I told someone, I’m sure they would invalidate the way I’m feeling or deem me out to be crazy, when this has never happened before, so it’s odd/seemingly random.

  32. I ended up here as I saw a square red light flashing above me when I was in bed a few weeks ago, and more recently I saw little man walking across my lounge as I had gone to sleep in there (the only reason I knew this wasn’t ‘real’ was because it was dark whereas when I saw the ‘man’, the room appeared lighter). I also remember seeing a street scene when waking up where my door should have been (as if I was looking out a window), and this was accompanied by a ‘whooshing’ sound and the scene spun round and round, getting smaller and smaller until it disappeared…. The article was very informative and the comments are also really reassuring that other people experience similar things.

  33. I usually have sleep paralysis when lying on my back. Or sometimes I have a tingly feeling throughout my body letting me know I’m going into one and I shut it out. However, before waking up a few hours ago I felt the tingly sensation but ignored it. Then in my dream someone was staring at me upside down, no idea who it was just staring. So I thought I woke up but the face was still there, watching me. Closed my eyes again, thinking I’m going nuts or stuck in dreamland but I knew I was awake. It weren’t until I shifted my position my eyes focused and I was staring at the bottom of my curtains. Not been back to sleep since.

  34. It’s really surprising to see how little auditory hallucinations people have had in these comments, those are all I have and I never see things.

  35. I have these hallucinations every night, all shapes, people, cats and bugs. when i was a kid, i had one night where i was feeling very scared for no reason. so i hid under my blanket and when i looked over my blanket i see 3 dogs staring at me, and barking aggressively and i didn’t know what to do cause they were right beside my bed, and at that time i didn’t have any dogs in my room ever. Now i can’t fall asleep anymore on a normal school day i get somewhere around 4-3 hours of sleep. Im in 9th grade, and i got tests coming up and exams. I don’t know what to do, if i told my parents that i think i have hypnagogic hallucinations they would just laugh at me and say “you’re just watching too many horror movies” even tho i haven’t watched one for 2 years.

    • I’m sorry you’re going through that, and that they are not taking you seriously. I hope that at this point you’ve already overcome that fear/difficulty of sleeping. To be honest, with time I started being aware that everything “weird” I’m seeing might be a sleep hallucination, so that calmed me down, I just wait for it to disappear and it goes away. Thing is, the worse our sleeping pattern is, or the more stressed or anxious we are, the more hallucinations we have. So that’s a cycle… Hope you were able to break!
      Ps: I actually stopped watching movies with jumpscares because they seemed to increase the hallucinations

  36. I consistently have these sleep hallucinations pretty much every night. Mine seem to wake me up as well as occur before I sleep. It’s usually animals or bugs that I see but very rarely it’s shadow figures moving around my house. When I go to investigate or spend long enough looking at them it feels like I wake up and realise nothing was ever there. I was an extremely heavy sleepwalker as a child so there may be some correlation with that.

  37. I have woken a few times in the last month, seeing strange writing on the walls of my bedroom. The first time, I was frightened and closed my eyes telling myself it isn’t real, so back to sleep. The last time it happened I really tried to read it and it was like hieroglyphics or some kind of ancient language. It stayed on my walls for quite some time. I am not afraid of it anymore, but nonetheless it is creepy and shouldn’t be happening.

    • This is exactly what I see. I spent so much time trying to read it off of my ceiling last night I’m exhausted today.😃. I could only make out a few words but it’s all Scribbly and gets smaller as it fades away. It’s so bizarre.it def is much better then the spiders & bugs for sure! The spiders fade quickly so of course they look like they are running around. I often think my doorbells ringing as I’m waking up or I hear gunshots outside. Ty for sharing – I know I’m not crazy now

  38. This article was actually so helpful! I have never had stress or anxiety in my fully 34 years, however I lost my Mum 5 years ago when my baby was 2 weeks, never grieved, then lost my Dad this year. Add to the fact I worked all through the pandemic on intensive care, to then suddenly change to working from home in a new role, which was a shock to the system. I have since developed stress and anxiety which is new to me as it is, but started jumping out of bed on quite a few occasions seeing spiders that apparently aren’t there (huge ones!) but feel so real in the moment.. have found myself moving furniture just to double check before my brain decides to make me think rationally that it probably wasn’t there. Very new and very bizarre. Am putting it down to the stress I have been under. Hopefully once less stressed it can stop happening. X

  39. I have hallucinations upon waking. I see shadow spiders crawling around the bedroom walls and ceiling. sometimes I think the spiders are jumping on me. I often jump up (waking my husband) and tell him there are spiders on my bed or around me. I am 100% convinced they are there. I am not one to believe in ghosts, but could they be supernatural, demon-like, and harmful? I am scared when I get up and the experience stays with me. I think about how weird it is to be seeing spiders my husband cannot see. it has been happening for about 4-5 years now-not every night but on a monthly basis. I can go a few weeks with not seeing the spiders and then once again I’m popping out of bed, turning on the light, waking hubby, and wanting him to kill a spider that doesn’t exist.

    • I also wake up ‘seeing’ spiders on the wall or ceiling at times. It’s happened three times in the last week. It used to happen quite a lot, but hadn’t for several years until this week. I jump out of bed, heart pounding, then wonder if it’s real as I become more awake. I stare at the ‘spiders’ until they vanish. Honestly, just typing this I think I sound crazy!

      • Same happens to me! I just woke up 20 minutes ago seeing a big spider shadow coming down my wall. I’ve searched everywhere in my room. It was a big shadow then disappeared…I’m so uncomfortable. I’m really hoping it’s a dream cause scary either way but really I’m moving!

  40. Extreme arachnophobia coupled with major long distance move stress and an actual infestation in new house has me having these once rare hallucinations frequently through the night. It’s debilitating. I’m so glad I’m not alone!
    I just posted a sign on my ceiling that says “GO BACK TO SLEEP, ITS NOT REAL”. We’ll see how that goes.