Hypnagogic Hallucinations: How to Cope?

Before you know how to cope with hypnagogic hallucinations, it makes sense to understand what these individual terms mean. While ‘hypnagogia’ is a state of transition between wakefulness and sleep, hallucinations are perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli. Hallucinations differ from dreams.

Hypnagogic hallucinations happen as one is falling asleep and are common with patients with narcolepsy.

What happens during hypnagogic hallucinations? 

Continuous research in the field of hypnagogia to look for plausible explanations of various psychic abilities and creative intuition has led scientists to believe that the brain is possibly capable of entering into other states of consciousness. What happens during this phase are marked by a display of highly abridged, discontinuous imagery of faces, figures, animals, etc.

Some may hear their names being uttered, music and could also experience paralysis.

Scientists believe that these visual, auditory and physical

stimuli could be responsible for flashes of inspiration or even offer creative insight for the sleeper.

Vivid imagery happens during the moments of transition between wakefulness and being asleep. During this stage the individual sees, hears or even feels things which at times can be scary, including feelings of free fall just before onset of sleep. To many, these types of hallucinations appear like really bad dreams.

What could be the factors responsible? 

Though the exact causes are not yet understood, but hallucinations are normal with narcolepsy patients. They could also be after-effects of certain groups of prescription drugs. Some other possible causes are:

  • Exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Both physical and emotional exhaustion are known to cause hypnagogic hallucinations as they diffuse the distinctive line between sleep and wakefulness.
  • Stress
  • When the brain is not externally stimulated (sensory deprivation);

How to cope?

The harmless condition needs treatment when there is increased frequency of episodes when the effect gets profound. Though common, they are usually mild. An average person experiencing simple auditory or visual imagery is a normal affair.

One of the stumbling blocks in initiating therapy is that along with the hallucinations, there is usually amnesia, disorientation, etc. While there no specific therapy available to stop such hallucinations completely, the only way to start treatment is to cure the underlying condition that is causing the increase in hypnagogic hallucinations.

In case there are no identifiable causes, help from a mental health professional or a psychologist might be sought for analyzing the subconscious for finding the root of the problem.  Many doctors treat this condition with antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, ear or brain surgery, therapy for drug dependence, or psycho therapy.

Some self-help strategies include:

    • Keeping a strict sleep schedule and get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
    • Stress management with the help of meditation and relaxation therapy, deep breathing, etc.
    • Check if any prescription medicine is responsible; if yes, ask doctor to change prescription.
    • Develop an attitude of positive thinking. Remember that having this kind of hallucinations is normal and there may not be anything wrong mentally or psychologically.
    • To know about the recurrence of such hallucinations keep a sleep diary to check if there is any pattern of emergence.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field