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redhen4's avatar

Anyone know about hypnogogic or hypnagogic hallucinations?

Asked by redhen4 (520points) October 5th, 2010

I found out online that what I’ve been experiencing all my life are hypnogogic hallucinations.
About an hour after I go to sleep I wake up and either see/hear/smell something that at the time seems very real to me. I found a blog page (cannot relocate) that said people who have “alien abductions” have these. I do not, but frequently see someone “watching” me (thru holes in ceiling, or a/c vents, or whatever but all up near or in the ceiling), as well as assorted other items like waking up in a “strange room” that is really the bedroom but “different”. Seeing people or angels, my dog that passed away recently, hearing music or smelling cigarette smoke are others.
These can be very frightening and lately are happening more than once a night, disturbing my sleep.
Anyone else have this experience?

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6 Answers

The_Idler's avatar

Sounds freaky. I get lucid dreams, which is a similar mix between consciousness and dreaming, but closer towards the dreaming end of the spectrum. If I wake up from one, I get residual feelings, but I think it’s only ever physical feeling, like being wet or having a foot buried or something.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s called sleep paralysis as well as hypnogogic hallucinations. When we sleep, our bodies are shut down by our brains. If they weren’t shut down, we’d get hurt badly when we dreamed.

In sleep paralysis, you wake up before the dreaming is over. So it feels like someone has enslaved you. You can’t move. Yet you still have these dreams in which it seems like there are creatures who are paralyzing you and doing things to you. Some people see aliens; some see devils; some see other things. The common element is that whatever the creature is, it is doing stuff to you and you can’t move and you can’t stop them. Terrifying.

There’s some information here and more here. I’ve seen more helpful links when I first researched this for a friend who found no one would believe him when he said he was being abducted by aliens.

squirbel's avatar

I’ve had occasions when this happened to me. I can even trigger it by sleeping at a time [usually during the day] when I shouldn’t be sleeping. Because my mother raised me to never sleep during the day [it’s lazy], it’s hard-wired into me that it’s wrong.

So what this results in is me hearing sounds or stimuli that intimate someone is coming, and that I should wake up…. But I’m still sleeping. This puts me in a stage halfway between sleep and consciousness. It normally starts out with me getting up and acting busy, or going to the bathroom. But soon I realize my body is paralyzed, and I can’t move – that’s when I realize I am in fact, still sleeping. It feels as though a weight is on me.

I’ve actually gone to sleep with the intentions of triggering this, and have been successful, on occasion. When I reached this stage, I sleep-looked to the right of me, and the vision of what “should” be in my room came into view, likewise I looked around and saw what I should. I tried to move, and I fought the paralysis, knowing that my brain just didn’t have the movement part of my brain turned on… and fighting it eventually resulted in it turning on. It was then that I always woke up.

It’s really cool, in my humble opinion. I’ve never taken drugs, but to me, that’s what being high must feel like, lol!

squirbel's avatar

@wundayatta I’ve never seen a creature though >.<

But then, I’ve never been prone to wonky dreams or the like. My dreams are normal day to day stuff… when I was a schoolkid, I used to dream about the next day, planning it out. Sometimes I saw occurrences that actually happened, or people’s clothes that matched the dream. But this wasn’t related to some type of esp – I just had a knack for knowing people’s entire wardrobes after 2 months.

redhen4's avatar

No, I was not saying I felt I was abducted by aliens. No I don’t feel like someone is holding me down and doing things to me. And no I don’t get paralyzed-but when I see someone watching me I tend to stay very still lest they see me watching them (the last one taunted me by waving at me).
I have had these since I was 6 or 7 years old.
I have to turn on a light in order to make them go away.
When I take meds for depression or bipolar, they can trigger an increase of frequency-meaning I get them 4 or 5 times a night, not just when I first go to sleep.
Lately they are increasing and make me feel like I’m going crazy.
Luckily it is only at night-not during the day :)

wundayatta's avatar

There’s a range of experiences for sleep paralysis, and I’m sure a sleep doctor could help you figure out if that’s what is going on.

I don’t know what mental tools you use to deal with bipolar disorder, but some of the tools you use there are also helpful with sleep paralysis. If you use mindfulness, you’ll have some training in how to be less attached to the thoughts springing from your emotions. You may have learned not to fight the thoughts, but to just let them be thought and then go. You don’t have to pay attention to them.

The same thing works with sleep paralysis.You are getting the experiences more often because of your meds, it sounds like you mean. Treat these dreams/visions/whatever the same way as you treat your useless thoughts. You look at them. You don’t fight them. You learn to recognize them for what they are, and you just let them go away.

Recognizing them is useful in another way. You can train yourself to wake up enough to switch on the light. Or maybe you already do this? If so, you’re on the right track.

There are meds that may or may not help. I don’t know what they are, but when I was reading about it, they mentioned a few. The sleep docs will know what to use. But what I read said that it’s a lot like bipolar. You need meds and you need mental techniques to allow you not to let the dreams bother you.

I’m not a doctor, so anything I say should be confirmed by a specialist, but I don’t think you’re going crazy. These are not hallucinations—at least, not in the sense that Bipolar or Schizophrenic folks might have. These are things that really are there—in dream life. You are not making this stuff up. It’s a real dream of a much more powerful type.

Maybe you can learn to appreciate it—possibly even to guide it, as lucid dreamers do. Maybe you can have a bit of fun—making weird stuff that tickles your fancy happen. If you can do that, it will lose its power to bother you somewhat. In fact, that’s another technique I saw mentioned…. I think. Maybe I made that one up. But if I did, it’s based on a lot of stuff other people have written.

Good luck. Keep us up to date on your adventures. I really think you’ve got something important there. It’s a gift. But like learning to be a shaman, you have to learn a lot in order to make it useful. It’s not easy.

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