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What are Hypnopompic Hallucinations?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hypnopompic hallucinations are often discussed along with hypnogogic hallucinations. Both of these have to do with hallucinations occurring as people enter or exit sleep. When people are just on the edge of sleep they might experience hypnogogic hallucinations. If a person is about to wake, he or she could have a hypnopompic hallucination.

What makes hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations different from dreams is that they tend to lack a story. Moreover the hallucinations may vary. People could experience a physical feeling, a smell, a sound, or quite frequently an image or sight.

The image could be a simple line, dot, pattern, or it could be a full person, animal or other. It is important to add that whatever experienced, the perception of something not there can feel very real. Hypnopompic hallucinations might make people bolt out of bed, and then feel very disoriented, or they sometimes create the sensation that the person is paralyzed and cannot move.

Hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations are characterized by their “realness.” They also have a tendency to disrupt sleep. While they might suggest a person has sleep disorder, the hallucinations do not have much to say about the sanity of the person having them.

In most instances these forms of hallucinations are associated with other sleep disorders, and often particularly with inability to get to sleep. This isn’t always the case. An interesting survey study done in the last decade of the 20th century collected data from a number of people to compare how often people reported hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. Data of nearly 5000 respondents showed that quite a few people had had at least one incidence of either of these sleep or waking disturbances.

As published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, over 12 % of the people surveyed experienced hypnopompic hallucinations and close to 40% had had hallucinations when falling asleep at night. A conclusion that can be drawn from the study is that of the two types of hallucinations clearly hypnogogic sensations are more common. Another suggestion made by the authors of the study was that hallucinations occurring just before waking were more likely to happen if people did have a sleep disorder.

This last conclusion is perhaps important because frequent episodes of hypnopompic hallucinations may suggest poor sleep or sleep disorders that could be remedied. Yet, people may definitely fear discussing this issue with a doctor because they might believe a doctor will look at them askance. As previously mentioned, neither of these types of hallucinations indicates mental instability, and there is plenty of medical literature to back this up. On the other hand, such hallucinations really can suggest poor sleeping habits, and that can be dangerous to health on a number of levels.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon996265 — On Aug 02, 2016

Have any of you ever considered these 'hallucinations' are actually real manifestations of demonic activity? You can label from here to kingdom come, but the fact remains these are frequent enough to warrant another explanation.

By anon994665 — On Feb 26, 2016

This is amazing! I seriously thought I was going crazy. I'm so glad I have a name for this now. Mine pretty much always involve spiders but I've had other hallucinations, too. Is there anything that has helped anyone with these? Thank you everyone for sharing. It's so wonderful to know that I'm not alone.

By anon993245 — On Nov 01, 2015

I started having these after the birth of my third child and put it down to a lack of sleep. He's 5 now and I still have them.

They vary in frequency from two a week to one in two months. I must have had over 100. Some are in color, some are not. What I wondered is why they wake me suddenly in the middle of the night. And if it's dreams not yet gone from our minds, why is it usually different people all doing the same thing each time, staring at me?

There have been a few episodes of spiders and once the most vivid was a full row of terrace houses within my bedroom. Often my heart races at the same time. Usually it's just random people standing near and staring at me. It's never anyone I know. Usually it's just one person, except one occasion when there were three at once.

By anon993103 — On Oct 22, 2015

Wow. It is so interesting to read others' experiences. I've had this condition since I was a kid (well before age 10). I'm now 32 and still have them. I've been been having them a lot lately (a few a week). The past two have been me lurching out of bed flailing my arms thinking I'm being swarmed by wasps.

The one my family loves to me remind me of is when I woke my sister up when I was 10 years old, jumping on her bed, screaming that there were lizards on the floor. A lot of mine are animal related, but in a negative way, which is strange because I love animals. I'll often mistake something for something else, thinking the comforter on the bed is an opossum, or spiders crawling on the bed. Sometimes I'll just wake up standing at the bedroom door scared to death of something and I don't know what it was. Sometimes I see someone standing in the doorway when it's nothing. Let's just say my husband really is the victim in all of this because I am always scaring him half to death! I've been to a sleep specialist, he gave some tips, but they haven't really helped much. He did say those who suffer this condition have a higher chance at developing narcolepsy. So be careful my nighttime hallucinating friends!

By anon992221 — On Aug 23, 2015

It's somewhat "comforting" that I am not the only one having such hallucinatory nightmares. They started about 23 years ago. I have had cloaked evil people in my bedroom waiting to kill me, giant tarantulas scurrying over my bed, an old lady sitting next to my bed just staring at me, or strangers breaking into my bedroom ready to harm me. I bolt out of bed, sometimes I scream and almost always my heart races. I hated talking about it because people just look at you like you are crazy. I did sleep walk and talk. These types of "dreams" are always terrifying.

By anon991740 — On Jul 15, 2015

I have had hallucinations since I was little, at least one every couple of weeks. The earliest one I can remember was when I was about 4 years old when I woke and say cockroaches covering the floor. They peaked about preteens with the spiders. The worst, most vivid one I can remember happened when I was about 12. I shared a room with my brother at the time and I was on the top bunk. I had seen two huge, basketball-size spiders come out of the wall and I remembered looking down to see my brother next to the dresser and I heard him yelling at me to get off the bed. Let's just say I was an experiment at getting out of the top bunk in a matter of seconds. At this stage in my life, it also wasn't uncommon for me to have multiple hallucinations in one night. After a while, the hallucinations died down from multiple nights a week back to maybe once every few weeks.

It picked back up again in high school when I had one of my scariest hallucinations. I woke up to see what I can only really describe as a monster in my room. I watched as it devoured my brother whole right in front of me before it lunged towards me. I bolted from my room so fast, screaming, that I tripped in front of the front door at the end of the hall. I ended up waking up my parents in the process who were very concerned for me since I was shaking and crying for a good 30 minutes.

Eventually, the hallucinations I had at this point in my life died down in frequency.

The third most notable one I had happened when I was about 21. I woke up to see this mobster like man in my room with a gun pointed at me. Of course I bolted from the room and was about to run outside. I remembered grabbing the front door handle and just standing there trying to convince myself it wasn't real. It was a bit harder for me to do that at time time because I was also hearing a conversation between my brother and his friend about not letting me escape instead of their actual conversation they were having in the living room at the time. Eventually I did snap myself out of it and went to bed, but normally they don't last as long as this particular one did.

I'm 24 now and currently have one or two a week, sometimes more. I have determined that they happen about 30 minutes to an hour after I fall asleep. I'm usually not dreaming beforehand, that I can recall, in fact I usually don't even realize I have fallen asleep yet.

I've pretty much just accepted them as part of my life. They're not always scary. Sometimes I think a friend is in the room talking to me, sometimes I wake up looking for something that was never there to begin with, heck I've even woken up to see fairies before. And of course most of them involve spiders. I hate spiders. But seeing things, hearing things, and my recently feeling things, like this overwhelming sense of fear or dying, has been something I've grown use to. I did find that have a touch lamp is great for this sort of thing. Light brings me back to reality most of the time so having the lamp right to my bed helps with all the spider ones.

I've tried mentioning it to my doctor as well as my inability to fall asleep most nights, and she would just tell me that I should alter my diet and see if that helps. It didn't. I'm pretty sure I have some sort of sleep disorder; it's just undiagnosed at this point.

By anon988406 — On Feb 10, 2015

I have never found anyone who experiences what I do. I hope someone will post if they do. So, upon taking a nap, I see textures, usually wood, but the first one was yellow oilcloth, and I have seen pink elephant skin, metal, wallpaper, but most often it is wood of some sort. My eyes are closed, but I see it very clearly about 8 inches from my face. I'm awake, and they last about 10 seconds. Upon waking up, I hear sounds -- any kind – a gong, chime, ring, doorbell, even someone calling my name. I'm not afraid of any of these. I would just like to know what I'm supposed to do with these bits of information. I'm female, 63, very intuitive, an energy healer, and a writer. Thanks.

By anon983811 — On Jan 03, 2015

I have had hypnopompic hallucinations for about two years now and I'm 14 and I have no sleeping disorders that I know of.

I see random objects floating towards me and disappear when they get close enough to touch. One time it was a doll I made with button eyes that was a little creepy. I woke up in the night to see it walking beside my mattress! I'm scared of falling asleep now for fear of waking up in the night and seeing things and I have done research on this, but no one sees the same things as I do.

I'm even more scared now because the hallucinations are getting worse as now I have seen a man's face floating right in front of me but when I closed my eyes (this is the only way to get away from as I am paralyzed in terror at the time) the man's face is reflected in my eyelids! I have found that making up a story before sleeping helps me get through the night without waking up, but it doesn't always work!

By anon975088 — On Oct 24, 2014

I've been having these lately too and upon waking I am always seeing people. Sometimes, I wake up and sometimes I feel they are good little kids just trying to see if I am sleeping and when I wake up they would hide. I just woke up and finally did a google search.

A few minutes ago upon waking up I saw maybe six little kids looking at me, standing near my bed and I finally had it with them, and I threw them my middle finger and they were dissolving. This is seriously so freaky.

By anon975014 — On Oct 22, 2014

Spiders! It's always spiders! This has been happening to me since I was 17 and I'm 29 now. Nothing else. I think I also suffer from sleep paralysis. Maybe I should get checked, but it happens so damn infrequently.

By anon972125 — On Oct 01, 2014

I suffer from both hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. Hypnagogic are usually just little noises and visual disturbances. Occasionally I’ll see my cat knocking over a lamp when he is actually fast asleep at the foot of my bed, or I’ll see innocuous shadowy figures moving about the room. These are rarely anything more that annoyances.

Hypnopompic hallucinations, on the other hand, are almost always terrifying and can make me shoot out of bed screaming bloody murder. I’ve seen a red demon crouching in the corner or my ceiling, a gaping hole in the ceiling from which spiders rain down on me, been entangled by a bloody fishing net that then drug me off the bed, and a glowing white stag running directly at me with his antlers aim at my face. All of these hallucinations occur while my eyes are wide open so I can’t just wake up to make it stop. The fishing net one will keep me awake and trembling for the rest of the night.

I’m scared to go to sleep at night because it’s only a matter of time before I wake up screaming. My partner is losing sleep, our roommate is now losing sleep, and I’ve averaging maybe three hours a night. Most of my doctors are confounded and I’m afraid to talk to friends and coworkers about why I’ve been so distant for the last six months. I’ve felt very isolated with this sleep disorder.

All of this boils down to the only reason I felt compelled to comment. Of all the blogs, articles, and medical journals I’ve read looking for answers, this article is the most validating thing that I’ve read so far. It’s so simple and matter-of-fact, but not without the compassion needed to talk about such a personal experience. It doesn’t make the word “hallucination” synonymous with “crazy” or “schizophrenic.” It explains how common it is, but also emphasizes just how detrimental it can be to one’s health and well-being. More importantly, this article is one that I feel comfortable passing along to the friends and family who have been unfortunately kept in the dark. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you for this article.

By anon970445 — On Sep 18, 2014

I've had a few over the years, waking dreams mostly. The most recent was that I had a human head resting on my chest. I woke with a start and flung my cat into the air from its resting place.

The most vivid true "hallucination" I had though was several years ago when I woke in the middle of the night, opened my eyes and saw what others have described as a "cosmic jellyfish" hanging above my bed about half way to the foot, two or three feet above the covers. It had roughly the elongated, horizontal shape of a man o' war and was approximately four or five feet in length and two or three feet in circumference. It was translucent, but shimmered with prismatic, iridescent color that moved across its body in waves. This experience was not something that immediately ended.

There was a cognitive chain of thought on my part. I had enough time to lay there and comprehend that I was seeing something and then confirm to myself that, yes, there is something there. I went through the usual reaction of blinking and looking again seeing if it would be gone, but it remained. I marveled at it for a few moments, observing the color and shape and then decided that I'd try to touch it. I sat up and reached out to it to find my hand pass through the thing, and it appeared to slide toward the foot of the bed away from me. As it did, the form lost its color and faded away into the darkness of the room. It was gone.

I will also say this. We really don't understand sleep very well, nor the nature of time, space and what consciousness is. To me, it is a mistake to discount these experiences entirely as some kind of biological misfire. Some could be, while others may not be. We may be able to perceive certain things that we would otherwise not as our consciousness makes the journey between the nether of sleep and the waking world.

I had a waking experience that I actually shared with my wife in that she observed with me. It changed my perspective on these things.

By anon970168 — On Sep 16, 2014

I've had hypnopompic hallucinations for as long as I can remember. My dad and brother had them as well. I've had countless episodes of either having spiders on me, snakes under my bed to seeing a blue/purple light coming from the opposite end of the ceiling as if it were pulling me to the light off my bed, to last night feeling like there was a presence in my room pointing at me (which made it feel like it was turning my head to make me look at something).

After the one last night, I decided to do some research on the subject to see if I was going crazy or if this is some type of medical condition. Glad to see I'm not the only one having these, as I've had plenty of other disturbing hallucinations.

By anon969768 — On Sep 12, 2014

I have been seeing images upon waking, it seems like for a year or so. It always seems to be in the form of slightly out-of-focus lines of writing, like an invoice or work order. Floating in front of the blank wall beside my bed. I can't read these, as they appear exactly like they should appear when I am not wearing my eyeglasses. I never wear glasses when I sleep, and lucid dreams are quite clear. I do dream in Technicolor! I can normally open and close my eyes a few times before they disappear, and I am aware of my surroundings.

It's good to see I am not the only one with these "visions." Why can't they be clear, and useful like the upcoming winning lotto numbers?

By anon965344 — On Aug 11, 2014

I have had these as well for at least 15 years. I call them my 'spider dreams'. Never knew what they were until now!

They are the same almost every time, with the location of the spider being the only difference. I 'open' my eyes and look around my bedroom, which is fully lit as if it's daytime. I will see a spider coming at me, either from the ceiling, across the pillow, or up the blanket. I bolt out of bed at full speed and run screaming or panting until I find a light switch. I have run as far as the kitchen before becoming aware that I've had a 'spider dream.'

It is amazing to me how I'm able to run while half asleep. Only once did I get tangled up in a laundry basket and cut my leg.

As I become lucid and less confused, I will feel weak-kneed and my heart will be racing and thumping. I have had really bad sleep habits for years, which I guess makes these more common. I am not afraid of spiders -- just dream spiders.

By anon963875 — On Jul 31, 2014

I've had these for as long as I can remember. When I was about 5 years old, I woke up to spiders crawling all over my bed. I crawled on my pillow and screamed for my parents. Now I have hypnopompic hallucinations about every month or so. I'm glad to know what it is because both my father and I have it, and we've both found them very interesting (after waking up terrified, of course.)

By anon963583 — On Jul 30, 2014

I've had night terrors for over 30 years. I'm 60 now and have started having visions when waking up. They are usually unsettling or disturbing.

By anon951814 — On May 18, 2014

I'm so glad I'm not insane. I am an insomniac and, according to sleep studies, have a hard time getting in and out of REM when I can fall asleep.

Does anyone else get the auditory plus visual mix? It tends to come with sleep paralysis.

By anon944512 — On Apr 07, 2014

I swear I just bolted out of my bed because I felt a huge spider on my head and on my face. When I jumped up it crawled down, but when I jumped off the bed, turned the light on and looked, it was gone. Am I going crazy or is it possible?

By anon940782 — On Mar 19, 2014

Oh, thank God I'm not crazy. This happens to me so frequently (probably because of poor sleeping habits) but it really interferes with my sleep. I see so many different things: figures standing at my bed, things falling on me. One time I was sleeping facing my wall and woke up to a huge hole right in front of my face with mice and spiders crawling out of it.

I should know none of this is real but I still jump out of bed and turn my light on as fast as I can, my heart beating a million miles a minute. At least now I know there's a name for it, I'm not the only one, and it's not a serious medical condition.

By anon936676 — On Mar 02, 2014

Has anyone looked into the EMF and microwave frequency or tech?

I too have experience of this. However twice I have been awake and lucid, albeit exhausted, but able to interact with these things.

People here often mentioned they came from the ceiling. I thought it was more from the electrical sockets, such as the lights which are suspended from the ceiling. They seem to form energy sources and appear to understand me. The realism is unlike any dream or lucid dream, but I am aware fatigue plays a role and that dim lighting helps call them into vision. However I am not always on the verge of sleep -- just utterly exhausted.

My experiences have often involved the same types of things: animals, entities, astral creatures whatever you want to call them. They are glow bugs and cosmic jellyfish like creatures. They are different from your standard jellyfish, but can't think how else to describe it. These guys always pay a visit and kind of creep me out. I don't let them touch me, although sometimes they try/do anyway. It doesn't hurt. When I tell them to leave, they usually do.

By anon935105 — On Feb 24, 2014

I'm 19 and last week I was on the verge of sleep when suddenly, I swore I saw black bars hovering over me like a cage. I thought nothing of it, just figured it was a trick of the lights. Then a few days later I woke up from a nap to the sight of a bunch of giant spiders falling from the ceiling to my bed. I bolted out of bed and they disappeared.

Then just yesterday, I was trying to go to bed when I saw what appeared to be a face made out of smoke rush at me from the corner of my room. In the last week, due to these incidents it has become very hard to sleep and common for me to still be awake at 5 in the morning, at which point (with the night past) I will sleep till 2 in the afternoon. It has not affected my work or school yet, but if it continues, it's only a matter of time until I sleep through an alarm and miss something.

By anon358436 — On Dec 10, 2013

I once woke up and there were colorful ribbons and dragons floating around the room. I was definitely awake because I was screaming and my mum came in asking what was happening. I shouted at her to wake me up and told her to bring me some Panadol, she did and that seemed to make the visions disappear.

I also just recently woke up while being violently grabbed and attacked by what felt like a hand under the covers, I was screaming and desperately trying to get it off me. I threw myself to the ground, but it was still grabbing at me and I ran into my mums room. I had scratches and cuts on me from where I had been trying to get the creature/hand off of me and I had torn my pyjamas.

My mum said she had heard thumping and struggling and she had heard me fall out of bed, but not heard me scream. I was convinced that it had been real and was still in my room. I think these could be hallucinations.

By Broucke — On Sep 23, 2013

This website has really been helpful. I just found out that I have hypnopompic hallucinations. I’m a 34 old, healthy man (I do sports).

I woke up this morning to the feeling that someone was poking my left cheek with a finger. I thought it was my girlfriend, but she was definitely asleep. I tried to go back to sleep, and just as I was falling asleep (with closed eyes, of course) I could see a black cloud float down from the ceiling towards my chest/head. As this happened, I heard a female scream. I then noticed I couldn’t move at all! I woke up, still not able to move, but my hand had moved to the side of the bed. I couldn’t speak/yell, but after a couple of seconds I convinced myself to move my body. After a couple of minutes, I tried to go back to sleep, I turned on my left side facing my girlfriend, and suddenly, I started to feel as if someone was touching the back of my head with his/her fingers -- a really frightening feeling! I then turned around on my right side, just to hear someone whispering my name. I then decided I’d had enough and ran out the bedroom.

Now that I come to think of it, as a kid I have had the same paralyzing dreams: I found myself in the kitchen together with my parents. It was sunny outside. They went outside on the terrace, but someone or something held me back from following them. It then became really dark (as if a storm was coming) and I could feel a presence (I always thought of a witch) trying to enter the kitchen. I then woke up, not able to move the first couple of seconds. I must have dreamed this 40 or 50 times, and I was no more than three or four years old.

By anon345792 — On Aug 22, 2013

I'm 23 and about six years ago, I started having an odd episode of night paralysis where I would wake up but not be able to move. I would have to coax myself out because it would feel like I would die or something if I drifted back into my sleep.

The past two years, I have had a few hypnopompic hallucinations. Some examples of them are 1. I saw a big spider on the ceiling that fell on me. 2. A bird flying around in my room, 3. A wasp trying to sting me. I was even awakened by what I thought was someone shouting in my ear. I would not have the best or most regular sleeping pattern so I'm assuming its something to do with that that's causing them.

By anon342875 — On Jul 24, 2013

I've been having these for about eleven years now, since I was 16. Most of the time, I'll wake up in the middle of the night and see something that shouldn't be there, but sometimes when I'm staying up late reading I'll see shadows crawling on the walls. (I have light-blocking curtains on my bedroom window, so I know they aren't caused by headlights)

The most frightening one? I woke up to a noise like paper slowly tearing, but I kept my eyes closed as I tried to figure out what it was. I then felt something move the mattress, like someone was sitting or pushing on the foot of the bed. I opened my eyes to see a child-sized mound standing next to me. It had a pointy top, like it was wearing a hood or cap. I sucked in a breath in shock and it turned and darted into the wall, disappearing with a few scratching noises. I turned on the light and bolted into the living room, where I had to call a friend to calm myself down. I was convinced I had a poltergeist.

Most of the time, though, the hallucinations are not of animals or people. I've seen objects hanging from the ceiling a couple of times, and once a swarm of barrels buzzed around the bed like flies. Once it looked like a clothes line with jellyfish tentacles was hanging over the bed, the strands fluttering gently as though underwater. Pretty ethereal stuff. I'm glad to know what's causing them now. I was starting to wonder!

By anon323550 — On Mar 06, 2013

This all may be medically correct, but on a more spiritual side, the "hallucinations" that you see are actually something known as astral projection. In a nutshell, astral projection is when the spiritual body leaves the physical body while it is still connected by 'the string of life'.

If you can learn to control this, it is an amazing thing.

By anon322657 — On Feb 28, 2013

I went bolting out of bed, running down the hall back and fourth, screaming! I had seen this some dark thing as some sort of black wall killing someone in the house with a squish or a ray. It would just swish right over them. I was so scared and terrified.

My girlfriend was scared for me, she asked me what was wrong and all I could do was scream and run over and over again. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. We took a shower with me still not knowing who she was. I forgot who this girl with me was (my girlfriend). I asked her over and over what was her name, who was she.

Later that night, I had a stroke. I managed to keep calm, with my body numb, face numb, weak and scared I would die. I passed out completely, and still to this day we don't know what happened or went on with me?

By anon315385 — On Jan 23, 2013

I understand this better now. Rhank you all for your information.

By anon315007 — On Jan 21, 2013

I'm diagnosed with an epileptic thing, not causing me physical epileptic seizures, but rather, some kind of internal issues and all transfers to the fact that I have important sleeping issues like sleep paralysis, or I may shout in the middle of the night.

When I get sleep paralysis, I can't move, but sometimes my eyes are open and I don't get scared anymore. I know it's sleep paralysis, but I may start hallucinating and that's where things may look wicked. I may see people who may interact with me in a "telepathic" conversations and sometimes a rational conversation. In other cases, there are real people around me and I may also dream that I can hear what they are imagining at that very moment. It's a shame I'm unable to answer back because my body is paralyzed, but that would be a very interesting theory (are those telepathic voices I hear real? I'm afraid I will never know).

Finally, the ugly part of this story is that sometimes I may dream I'm being raped, by people I know or by aliens. It's ugly because I have my eyes open, and it feels realistic. Nevertheless, since it's a lucid dream (very lucid by the way) if I had more brain power maybe I would be able to imagine the person raping me as someone I'm attracted to, to make it feel nice, but I'm not still in that level. Note: i have never been raped in real life, so these issues just come because i have this epileptic issue, I guess.

By anon313717 — On Jan 13, 2013

It's so freaky. I always thought something was wrong with me. Ever since I was little I always dreamed of house bricks falling on me, squishing me, not being able to breathe and I'd wake up crying. It felt so real – like I was going to die.

I've always believed in things like spirits and demons, and I'm familiar with black magic in Asia. And I thought that was the explanation of my dreams. I've had my share of really messed up dreams. I would see this white, pale girl with long black hair. She didn't harm me. She seemed nice. She was rubbing my stomach, but she scared the living crap out of me. I would try to wake up my siblings, yelling and screaming, trying to move. I was like paralyzed and no one heard me at all.

Then there was this one time when I thought I saw an apparition of a shadow ghost. The reflection of the street light outside lit up my walls and I'd wake up to a big movement on my bed. It woke me up and I saw a dark shadow figure. I instantly saw it and it vanished, like it ran away. I thought it wasn't me, that it was just paranormal explanations.

Then, I had the most terrifying experience. For what it seemed like after only 10 minutes of sleep, I woke up. I saw the shadow of a man, and I was petrified. I swear I was awake, I had my eyes open and all. I saw this pitch black figure standing there at my door. It was walking towards me, so I closed my eyes and pretended I was sleeping. I was trying to peek, so I could see what it was doing, and I felt it touch me. It tried dragging me to the side of the bed, but I was holding on to my bed covers so tightly so it wouldn't grasp me away.

It picked me up, and I tried so hard to fight back, but it was worthless. It placed me on the ground, picked me up again and was carrying me towards then door, then it placed me on the ground again, then suddenly I woke up on my bed, scared as hell. It felt so real, swear to god, I felt it hold me and pick me up.

I needed answers, so I searched the Internet and saw this site. Is it really just me? Could it be just my imagination, my mind playing tricks on me while I try to sleep? Is it really just hallucinations? I kind of feel relieved knowing it was just hallucinations. But I'm still scared if it's not. I just want to sleep peacefully without all this stuff happening.

By anon312024 — On Jan 04, 2013

I've been having these weird hallucinations for about six months now and it's been getting worse and worse as months pass by.

At first, I could only hear voices of strangers, but now I'm starting to visualize the people that I'm hearing. They are so vivid as if they're real. Sometimes very abusive and it's driving me crazy! I see them and panic.

It would've been much more easier if I could just jump out of the bed and run away, but my body is totally frozen and I can't even move a finger when my eyes are open! It's the worst, most terrifying experience I've ever had and I just can't stand it.

By anon310766 — On Dec 26, 2012

I have frequent hallucinations. They started as spiders of all sizes. Sometimes the spiders would run like rats up my wall. Later on, my hallucinations became objects like hooks and mechanical devices. All of these would cause me great stress and fear.

I have been having hallucinations for over 25 years. I sometimes worry because I now have multiple ones through out a single night, but now I look at them and say to myself that what I am seeing is not real, but on occasion some of them will still give me a good fright. I always blamed them on stress, but now I do not have much stress and I feel that this has become simply a part of my sleeping pattern. It's annoying, I must say.

By anon309796 — On Dec 18, 2012

I'm 17 years old and I believe I've had three such hallucinations in my lifetime, however I cannot be certain. The first I recall is when I was asleep in my room and I woke up. I opened my eyes and as I was lying on my back, I just saw a fuzzy shape hanging in mid air, but I was certain I was awake and the more I blinked, it just disappeared, so I figured it was something like an orb in my vision (I suffer from migraines and am familiar with such shapes).

However, a few weeks ago I had actively forced myself to go to sleep. Usually I fall asleep with the TV on, texting or reading. I'm always doing something, never just lying there. However this time, I figured it was getting late and I needed to sleep. So I just lay there, and I dropped off, and then thought I woke up only five minutes later, and from my bed I saw a shape in my room, like a girl standing by the wall. I am petrified of such horrific things and therefore started panicking. I then saw more and more figures gathering in my room and coming towards me and I panicked even more. I then glanced to my window and saw a man there. I was certain such events were not truly happening though, and hoped desperately to wake up. I cannot fully remember what happened but I actually managed to wake up. But everything in the dream/hallucination was laid out just as it is in my room, the vase of flowers, clothes on the floor etc. – all the minor details -- like my eyes were actually open.

Then last night, once again I actively forced myself to sleep, yet again I fell asleep and believed I was awakened when I was pulled from my bed and thrown to the other side of the room, where some invisible force seemed to taunt me and pull me around the room. I was terrified but I knew that I was asleep, and actually in bed, so I tried to wake up and turn on my bedside lamp but I couldn't move. I was suddenly back in bed in the dream/hallucination, panicked and eager to turn the light on, but every time I flicked the switch, nothing happened. I also saw the man at the window again but only for a few seconds. Eventually I made a real effort, as if I were pulling a heavy load somewhere and I shook off the heavy paralyzed feeling I had and woke up for real, and tried the light, which now worked.

I cannot completely decide if I'm just having really accurate lucid dreams, or if I am hallucinating.

When awake and alone at night I am usually quite scared of ghosts, and I remember images from horror films and things I have seen, so I feel these are impacting on my subconscious, and influencing my dreams.

By anon308522 — On Dec 11, 2012

I started to experience hypnopompic hallucinations at the time of my first pregnancy, seeing fairy lights, see-through hexagon patterns akin to honeycomb, brick patterns, circles etc, on waking. It was also at a time when my migraines turned to visual migraines.

There was hardly anything about it on the net at the time and a neurologist I saw in Spain had never heard of them. Sadly, I got somewhat phobic about it, thinking I must be going mad, and if I saw that repeat pattern later in the day it would really scare me.

But I have been told since that these hallucinations are not to do with mental instability, which has helped somewhat to diffuse the situation.

Interestingly, I get them more when I appear to be low on blood iron. I don't know if that is anyone else's experience. What I will say to anyone reading this is don't be scared, but if you are, do get help. I left it a bit too long and have found that CBT has been very beneficial.

By anon306692 — On Dec 01, 2012

For me, every other Friday I go roller skating with my boyfriend and friends. Somehow I'll end up falling asleep but then keep waking up. And I wake up believing that I'm still at the rink, or that the people are still with me, and it's weird because I clearly remember it from last night. I really and truly was thinking that I was there. And it's just so weird that I can remember this. Any tips on what this might be? By the way, I'm 12.

By anon299461 — On Oct 25, 2012

I have been having these for many years, myself. I don't believe I'm bipolar whatsoever, as some others suggested. I have had some weird sleeping patterns on and off over the years, generally due to long work hours. Even when I'm exhausted, I'll try to stay up at night just to have some time to myself without having to think about work. My brain is constantly going full speed.

My dreams, for many years (over 10-15 years) generally involve seeing a spider coming down from the ceiling directly above my chest. I generally wake up and can vividly see the spider, and since I was a kid, I have not been a fan of them, so my instinct is to kill it immediately. As afraid as I am, when I'm in this mode for a few seconds after waking up, I have no fear because I'm literally grabbing it now with my bare hands to just squash it. When awake, I try not to "kill" anything. I respect all living things.

Quite recently, as in the last few months, the dreams have started to vary. I still have the spider dreams, and while generally it's the same black spider, I had a white one come down. Then oddly, the next day when I opened my back door (not in my dream, in real life), this amazingly cool looking white spider had created this huge web and was directly in the center of it. I let it be, and did not disturb it. I'd like to provide some more detail on the varying dreams in case anyone else is experiencing similar ones. Oddly, a day or two after this, when I was awake and thinking about these dreams, a different spider came crawling from under my couch into my view by my feet, then as I looked at it, it just crawled back under the couch. I don't usually see any bugs in the apartment even when I'm awake - not in the corners or anywhere. So to me this was odd, and it was very real (unlike the ones in my waking dreams).

My instincts tell me that the varying ones have only come since losing two people close to me (my grandmother from my father's side, and a good childhood friend). Here are the varying dreams:

I woke up to see an oval shape above and ahead of me about 8-10 feet that had a glowing whiteness on the edges. The middle of it was pretty dark, and I could not make out any face/person/animal, as suggested on this thread. Again, my instincts immediately thought of the ones who recently passed, but that could have just been what I "wanted" it to be since nothing else could explain it. I'd like to think I have people watching out for me in a good way, and I have verbalized this now to my spouse.

About a week later, I woke up and vividly saw two sharp knives hovering over my chest. There was no person or hands attached to them, but they were certainly angled in a way that, had someone been standing over the side of my bed, they could simulate holding onto these knives with their hands held somewhat close to one another. I still vividly remember the knives, and they are similar to one I have in my kitchen.

Additionally, just as I saw the knives, I also quickly noticed in the right-hand corner of my bedroom, I saw/felt a similar energy to the one that I mentioned previously. It was not really a bright outer edge, and this was much smaller. It was like the size of a bowling ball, but not a perfect roundness.

I am sure I have more that I could remember and say, although primarily it's the spider dreams that have been going on for as long as I can remember. It's so frequent that I'm not really even afraid anymore. I am trying to think of spiders as my friend at this point, since nothing bad has really happened to me.

I'd love it if this article went into more depth around this. While I now have a definition for it, I still don't have any better explanation than what my own instincts tell me. Thank you, nonetheless, for providing a better answer than what most "dream" sites have told me.

By anon289076 — On Sep 02, 2012

I just found out I suffer from hypnopompic hallucinations.

By anon284404 — On Aug 09, 2012

@post 4: I also am bipolar type 2, and before I was on medication and after I went off medication, I saw the same things. It got to the point that I moved my bed beside the light switch. That way, when I started seeing stuff, I could turn on the light and everything just goes away.

It's been about four years since this happened, and it's started back up. This time I see things in the corners of my room and it's like whatever it is, it's coming at me. Four years ago, it was ghosts, and I could hear them coming down the hall you could hear the footsteps, but it wasn't like a person ghost, it was like a scary Casper ghost. I'm going to speak with my doctor about it next time I go in. I hate this feeling of having no control over my mind.

By dreamwaver — On Aug 02, 2012

I'm in college in South Korea and for the past three months I have had some sleep disorder. When I sleep, I see things.

It looks to me like the dorm is locked and that someone is trying to strangle me. I try to open the door as I know that this is a dream and the suffering will go away when I get up and open the door, but I can hardly move. So, I fall from my bed and crawl towards the door and open it in agony. I feel scared and call for the people in the corridor. But all the dormitories are deserted and I cannot see anyone.

But after a while, the corridor of the dormitory starts to fill with hyenas and wolves. I scream, but no one comes to my rescue. So, what happened? Is this is another level of dreaming? I thought I got up and escaped from the man who was strangling me but now there are the wolves. I know I am getting deeper and the suffering is getting acute.

At that point, I pray for my Chinese dorm mates to show up and open the door from the outside because I know I am still dreaming but I cannot get up on my own. But they never show up in time to save me and I wake up tired, with a headache and frightened.

Now that I am awake I go to the door and check it out and it wasn't locked at all.

Such a story is common in my country of Ethiopia and I had similar experiences when I was there. But it hurts more in a foreign country where they don't have traditional remedies for ghosts.

By anon281668 — On Jul 24, 2012

I have suffered with these hallucinations for many years now. Last night I was sleeping alone and felt something thump on my arm, but there was nobody there. I really jumped too, then shortly after that I could hear my husband clearly talking to someone else on the phone about work. I thought I was awake but I was not. I dazed and confused. I sat up in the bed and listened and my husband was snoring next door.

Some of these over the years have been very scary indeed, where I feel someone is in the room. I also have recurring dreams and can never get to the end as I wake up crying!

These all seem to happen when I have difficulties falling asleep. I have so many others, it's really hard to explain. Falling is a big one and being pushed is another.

By anon278571 — On Jul 07, 2012

I've had a few experiences with this recently that caused me to look into things. Of course, when you realize you're seeing something that isn't there, part of you wonders if you're losing your mind. Mine seem to be quite simple.

Last night, I woke up thinking there was a spider on my pillow, causing me to jump and almost fall out of bed and fling the pillow across the room. Another time I woke up and saw a large insect flying around the room. I again jumped up, turned the light on, shook out the blankets, and checked under my pillows. I guess I just really don't like bugs.

By anon277192 — On Jun 28, 2012

I've had one full color moving hypnopompic experience upon awaking in the middle of the night, of a person (shoulders up) in exquisite detail. It was very very different from other imagery I have had occasionally when awaking or falling asleep.

Despite the 'hallucination' label these experiences have been given, I've seen no particularly satisfying explanation as to why the fully formed, full color, highly detailed type hypnopompic experience, is also overwhelmingly of people or animals, and very rarely of inanimate everyday objects.

By anon269680 — On May 18, 2012

I am glad to find out this info. Of all the persons I know, none knew to give me an explanation as regards my dreams. I also think that I mix the dream with reality. I am also changing things in my dream, but my real problem is that I cannot wake up. Sometimes I wake up and I watch the time. It is about 8 a.m., then I close my eyes again, and I hardly can wake up after two or three hours.

I need a few hours until I am really able to wake up for real and leave the dreaming world. It happens to me daily. Sometimes funny things happen. Sometimes I hear loud noises that scare me, I wake up with my arm or parts of body paralyzed. I can even write a movie script after my dream, they are so complex, even if I do not watch tv. And I continuously tell myself to wake up. It is hard only at the moment when I try to wake up.

Thank you for making this page. I wish quiet nights to everyone with sweet dreams.

By anon230457 — On Nov 19, 2011

I've been experiencing hypnopompic activities on and off for over 10 years. I feel my whole body vibrate and hear it buzz!! I know I am awake and not dreaming at the time, and no matter how hard I try to open my eyes, they will not open. Sometimes I hear noises around me and feel pressure on the bed. I've actually grown to feel interested in this phenomenon when it occurs, so it doesn't scare me anymore! Good to see others have similar experiences!

By anon223617 — On Oct 20, 2011

I have dealt with this my entire life. I read another study that said that the part of my brain that recognizes fact from fiction is distorted while dreaming. When I wake up suddenly, it is slow to differentiate the two so my brain continues to create. I woke up last night with a dead child in the bed with me. He had a bandage over his mouth. There was a little girl sitting beside him with her hand on his head and her back was facing me. I've had several more of these horrifying visions. I used to think I was seeing ghosts. Now, I just don't really want to think like that.

By anon221115 — On Oct 10, 2011

I don't know if my situation is related but it freaks me out sometimes I wake up panicking, running from someone/something I don't actually see but every time as soon as I realize it I feel a sudden spinning and dizziness and I keep falling and can't run from it.

By anon177873 — On May 19, 2011

The odd thing I guess is that I don't have any memory of any kind of visual or aural experience. What I mean is that I just wake up terrified, and after a few moments I calm down and generally I will fall asleep very quickly and sleep for the rest of the night. This has gone on for many years and is something I've just had to learn to live with.

By anon171769 — On May 01, 2011

I've just turned 18 and I've dealt with said hallucinations most of my life. When I was younger, I would sleepwalk, but only in the summer when I wasn't in school.

I still don't understand that. I've recently started to sleepwalk again. though none of this has ever really bothered me, being very strong-minded i would simply say that the hallucinations were there to keep me company, often joking with my brother about it after waking him up in my panics. Last night is the first time it's ever really freaked me out, seeing that I've looked this up and am still weirded out.

I spend the day staring around as I was walking, often clutching to my bag strap tightly as I scared myself. It continually happened last night as I was nodding off. It happened several times but it was gone as soon as my eyes snapped back open, still not able to fall asleep. I would see my friends, at first just one, who I considered very close, he'd lift something up and throw it at me, then I would panic for a bit before my exhaustion led me to doze off again, the next time was several friends, all glaring at me with what seemed eager, hatred-filled smiles. after that several things of the same happened before it became auditory as well.

I'd see friends, strangers, all around me, and until I opened my eyes my ears would fill with a loud painful screech, like a flashbang had gone off next to me, the pain seemed real enough to keep me up until this morning, in which I just sat on the couch and watched tv to keep me up.

By anon159735 — On Mar 13, 2011

I experience hypnopompic hallucinations quite frequently in the split second of waking in the early hours. They're often in the form of complex 3-dimensional geometric patterns or faces, sometimes cobwebs.

Not long ago I 'saw' a large spider next to me on the pillow - my reflexes caused me to leap backward out of bed, twisting my back. Yes, they seem totally concrete and real, but disappear once the bedside lamp goes on.

By anon156943 — On Mar 01, 2011

I've been dealing with pompic views for a few years now. I'm 23 and since I've graduated high school if I sleep in a dark room by myself I'll awake and see a person standing in the corner of my room advancing on me or aliens. Having a insane fear of aliens doesn't help.

It got so bad one night while living at home I screamed out for my parents because i was positive there was someone in my room. Other times I get so freaked I've thrown pillows and other easily accessible items across my room. Sleeping with a light on puts me more at ease but it's harder to do when I'm not sleeping alone.

By anon154552 — On Feb 21, 2011

My experience with hypnopompic hallucinations have not been pleasant (I'm not sure if anyone truly enjoys them). I was diagnosed as bipolar type 1 when I was 25 but it wasn't until three years ago that my hallucinations came about.

I see scary/creepy things that float around my room. Sometimes I see a floating skull with demonic teeth that appears to laugh. I don't hear it laughing, but it appears that it is. Sometimes, I see a reflection of eyes staring back at me when my eyelids are closed. It makes it hard to go back to sleep because I become afraid.

I take enough medicine to knock out a horse (seroquel, lamictal, ativan). But nothing will ease these images. I keep my Bible in my bed and pray during the night to try and comfort me. I talk to my psych doc and therapist, but it seems there is not much I can do to make them disappear. So I pretty much have to learn to live with it.

By anon145889 — On Jan 25, 2011

In Chinese when we have that, we call it as ghost pushes the bed. You will feel somebody is pushing on you and make you so you can't move. The old people would tell us to call Buddha's name, Oh Me Dou Fu, and that will make you calm and sleep well. Please try it. You need to keep calling until you fall asleep. It will work.

By Dana Corbin — On Jan 13, 2011

Yeah, I actually wish I could be part of a sleep study as to figure this out. I have had hypnagogic hallucinations all my life, and have had real hallucinations as a kid when running a high temp. Mostly I would hear my mother's voice calling my name as I was going to sleep.

The hypnopompic ones started when I moved to Austin in 2005, at the age of 25. I started out having them around once a month. I would see things like hundreds of ladders falling, or lots of bugs coming out of the ceiling. As long as I could wake myself up and turn on my table lamp, it would go away.

When I moved to Houston, that stopped working. They also started coming more frequently. At first, I just had to wake up my husband and they would go away, but then he became part of it, as in I would see him pushing a button or something that would be causing me to have these. That's when it got disturbing.

When I was pregnant with my last son they got much worse. Most of the time, I see bugs. Then I started seeing laser lights or weirdly colored bugs or gadgets doing weird patterns to surround us. I have only had one really bad auditory one and that one was just a few days ago. Normally I will wake up within an hour of falling to sleep and I could swear I could hear the tv on somewhere in the house. It has never been on once when I have gotten up to check.

The bad one was the first time in a long time, and I thought maybe what was going on was really happening. I thought someone was in the house. I now hate the thought of going to sleep due to this. It always happens usually within the first hour to hour and half after I fall asleep. Sometimes, on bad nights I may have two or three a night.

Now I take mild otc sleep meds. Melatonin with excedrin pm, mainly just so I can get sleepy enough to go to sleep, although they don't always work. I have never in my life been able to just lie down and go right to sleep. My mind always races.

I do not want to take rx sleep meds because I have kids to take care of, but I sure wished I could find a way to make them go away for good. Also, i almost never 99 percent of the time have these happen if I go out of town. They always happen in the place that I call home.

By anon140406 — On Jan 07, 2011

Have experienced both off and on throughout life (am now 50). Started the 'pompic type at age five, but they were "mild" 'til my late teens into my early thirties when they were wild, terrifying, vivid and detailed. Machines, vehicles, bugs, elaborate patterns, psychedelic-colored crustaceans, sometimes lilliputians, some were amusing - 99 percent purely visual.

The auditory ones threw me off more and had one hallucination with a tactile sensation component (fortunately) two years back. Always occurred within the first two hours of sleep. Did sleepwalk as a kid (outgrew that thankfully). No family members will 'fess up to having similar experiences. Now at 50, I almost never have them. Am guessing that the post-menopausal hormones can't conjure them up any longer.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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