Hypnagogic hallucinations: what they are and what they can be a symptom of

Hallucinations are all those perceptions which, although not based on real stimuli, make us see, feel or even feel when touched. In the case of hypnagogic hallucinations, these occur during the night, And are not directly related to organic type disorders.

In this article, we will go over the concept of this type of hallucinations, as well as their most symptom-relevant causes and characteristics, which usually arise while trying to fall asleep.

    What are hypnagogic hallucinations?

    Hypnagogic hallucinations have the particularity that they occur only during the transient process from the waking state to the sleeping state, Specifically in the first and second phase of sleep (MOR). This means that they happen when we try to fall asleep at night.

    It is common for these hallucinations to be related to experiences the subject had the day before, and the most common are auditory and visual. They can be hallucinations of any kind; visual, auditory, taste, olfactory or even tactile.

    They usually occur in the early stages of development, when the subject is in childhood and adolescence. They are less common in adulthood, where under natural conditions it is normal for them to disappear completely. However, there may be exceptions, and in that case, they might consider how indicators of neurotic or psychotic pathologies.

    These types of hallucinations are, in many cases, the explanation for the “paranormal experiences” that some people say they have heard at night, during which they have tried to fall asleep.

    Not to be confused with hypnopomic hallucinations, Which take place during the process of transition from sleep to wakefulness, which is exactly the opposite of hypnagogic.

    It may also happen that the subject knows that what he is feeling at the moment is not real; in this case, it would be a pseudo-hallucination.

    the causes

    This type of hallucination usually occurs in isolation in people, depending on the stage of development the subject is in. As mentioned above, they are common in childhood and adolescence, Moment in which human beings still do not have established in their totality the logical-rational thought, and what still prevails is the magico-religious thought.

    During these young stages of life, these hallucinations they can be attributed to those fantasies and beliefs specific to the respective ages (Between 6 and 17 years old).

    In the most repetitive cases, when these hallucinations are repeated frequently, they can be caused by certain specific sleep disorders. For example, the well-known sleep paralysis.

    If the intensity of the hypnagogic hallucinations turns out to be more severe, this could be one of the symptoms of narcolepsy (Excessive sleep during the day). However, this type of hallucination is not considered pathological when it occurs in isolation.

    In adulthood, they can occur once without being considered an indicator of any disorder. If, on the other hand, if the prevalence is significant, exactly in cases where they occur over a prolonged month, the specialist (neurologist or psychiatrist) should be consulted.

    The doctor will perform the necessary tests to detect the possible origin of hallucinations. Under normal circumstances, these experiences do not last longer than twenty seconds, and when the subject wakes up, they usually do not remember them.

      How to prevent them

      The prevention of these hallucinations requires taking into account various factors related to their origin, which means that it is necessary to have determined what leads them to proceed to avoid them in a specific way for each circumstance.

      Let’s start with the most common causes: excessive fatigue caused by lack of proper sleep routines. When this is the cause, it is recommended to distribute the time better, the idea is to be able to go to bed at a safe time and sleep well between August 6 and 8 (for adults).

      Anxiety and the use of certain substances can also generate these nocturnal hallucinations.

      Especially when the cause is anxiety, sleep relaxation techniques work quite well. These include specific forms of breathing to reduce anxiety levels and be able to sleep better.

      When it comes to the use of certain substances, prevention is to give up that use, otherwise the hypnagogic hallucinations will persist or may even intensify – depending on the nature of the substance or whether the person continues to use another who has one. more powerful effect on your body.

      Finally, when the hypnagogic hallucinations are the product of a sleep disorder, then their treatment and prevention are the same as the specific disorder from which the subject suffers.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Germaine, A., Nielsen, TA (1997). Distribution of spontaneous hypnagogic images through the sleep onset Hori EEG phases. Sleep research. 26: 243.
      • Nielsen, T., Germain, A., Ouellet, L. (1995). Hypnagogic images signaled by atony: comparative EEG mapping of sleep onset, REM sleep and wakefulness transitions. Solid research. 24: 133.

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