Hallucinations During Sleep

Hallucinations during sleep are a phenomenon that can target any sensory perception, be it visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory or other. Hallucinations are often confused with both illusions and dreams. Hallucinations occur in the state between waking and sleeping (the person is considered to be technically asleep during these hallucinations though), as opposed to dreams or lucid dreams, which occur while asleep.

What’s The Difference Between Illusions & Hallucinations

Sleep hallucination occur in the absence of external stimuli

Illusions occur while awake, and are classified as a sensory misrepresentation of an external stimulus, while hallucinations occur in the absence of any external stimuli. Hallucinations most often occur in the stages before or after sleep, explaining their connection as a sleep related phenomenon. Hallucinations can occur at any time, though this article will only look at hallucinations as they are connected to sleep. Hallucinations are common, most notably sleep related hallucinations, with over 10% of the population experiencing one at some point.

Hypnogogic, Hypnopompic Hallucinations & Sleep Paralysis

The two forms of sleep related hallucinations are called hypnogogic (hypnogogia) and hypnopompic (hypnopompia) hallucinations. Hypnogogic hallucinations occur just before sleep, and may be accompanied by sleep paralysis, a state in which the subject is physically immobile, but fully conscious. Hypnogogia and sleep paralysis often cause fear, moreso than in sleep paralysis during hypnopompia which is often considered as part a dream by the subject, as well as feelings of difficulty breathing and muscle tightness. Hypnopompia occurs upon waking, and may also be accompanied by sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is much more common in hypnopompia than in hypnogogia. Sleep paralysis is often confused by the person experiencing it as part of a lucid dream, which accounts for the high number of recalled dreams with elements of being frozen in place, or being unable to move. Common hypnopompic experiences include the sensation of falling and the feeling of a presence in the room.

Distinguishing Dreams From Sleep Hallucinations

Hallucinations can cause confusion, as they will often be indistinguishable from reality in your mind. In contrast, upon waking from a dream, most people will clearly recognize it was a dream they were experiencing, or may immediately forget about the dream entirely upon waking. Hallucinations may also cause fear, especially upon waking, as they may include clear and complex visual images, that may be distorted or make no sense realistic sense.

Sleep related hallucinations can occur in as many as 25% of people, as opposed to under 5% for non sleep related hallucinations. They are most commonly found in young adults and teens, and frequency of hallucinations seems to decrease with age. Females are more likely to experience them than are males.

Known Causes & Treatment of Sleep Related Hallucinations

Sleep related hallucinations may be a direct result of alcohol or drug use, or could be due to insomnia, anxiety, stress or other factors. People with narcolepsy have a high rate of sleep hallucination occurrence.

Sleep hallucinations may not need treatment, as they often occur infrequently and do not affect sleep quality. They may be a sign of mental stress though, or if coupled with daytime sleepiness, even narcolepsy. If the hallucinations are causing fear or anxiety, or to validate its causes, you may want to talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist.When issues of mental stress are suspected, you may be advised to contact a therapist, or practice relaxation techniques before bedtime to help the mind shut down. It may also be advised to stay out of bed until feeling extremely tired, to avoid laying awake in bed and having the mind wander onto issues that may be causing you stress or anxiety. It has been shown in studies that the clearer a person’s mind is, the less likely they are to hallucinate, or even dream.

If the hallucinations are the result of medication, drug or alcohol use, it may be advised to refrain from their use, and you may need to change medications if this is the case.

Any suspected case of narcolepsy should be consulted with a sleep specialist, and an overnight sleep study performed to look into it further. Narcolepsy can be a debilitating disorder that can be treated.

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59 Replies to “Hallucinations During Sleep”

  1. Carol Dean

    I experience sleep paralysis quite often & have for years. I actually feel like I’m going to die due to not being able to breathe. It always, always scares me so bad. It always happens before I go to sleep, not when I’m waking up. It doesn’t just happen once when it happens, it’ll happen at least 3 to 5 times in a row in the same night. What will happen is after I wake up & then go back to sleep after the first time, it’ll happen at least 2 more times if not more. I absolutely hate it & it terrifies me to the point I honestly think I’m going to die. After these “episodes” happen, I’ll have to get up, walk around or stay awake for at least 30 minutes & hope it doesn’t happen again.
    I also have vivid, detailed nightmares almost nightly. They’re truly awful & will make me hyperventilate, cry or scream out loud. I usually hate going to sleep, but as I’ve gotten older I don’t lay there & think about it, I simply say my prayers & close my eyes & go to sleep & pray I don’t have nightmares & pray that I wake up.
    I don’t know what to do to make my sleeping easier for me. I’m always tired during the day, don’t feel rested & sometimes the nightmares will stay on my mind for weeks. I haven’t had a decent full night’s rest in years. I wake up at least every 2 hours, but during that 2 hours I’m able to go into a deep sleep, which I couldn’t do years ago at which time I always felt like I was only lightly sleeping or pretty much awake but sleeping. It’s hard to explain. Anyway that was a long time ago.
    Thank you for your time. If you could give me some insight or helpful hints I’d greatly appreciate it.

    • PMD

      Go get a sleep study done…

      You are probably suffering from sleep apnea
      Not enough oxygen reaching the brain and not achieving true REM

      If you don’t want to dream talk to your doctor about amitriptyline hydrochloride

      Everyone is unique and have their own details that will give you the correct diagnosis

      Try sleep study and doctor for amitriptyline hydrochloride.

      If don’t work no harm no foul

    • K. Ritter

      I feel like crying while reading these posts. While I have so much sympathy for all of you, it is comforting to know that maybe I am not crazy after all. We all seem to experience the same symptoms. I hate to go to bed after years of these things happening. I don’t drink, don’t take any drugs besides aspirin yet doctors and therapist always ask me about substance abuse. One told me the auditory hallucinations are called”exploding head syndrome ” and then said i needed antidepressants. I don’t know what we need…

    • Ruth

      Cancels Omg exactly happened to me everything you said is true
      I am always scared to go to sleep I might die .
      Have difficult breathing The minute I fall sleep and wake up screaming I do not know what to do but leave any fears

    • Louise

      Carl Dean, I had the same symptom you describe, exacty; had a sleep study and it was sleep apnea, as suggested. Once I was fitted with an oral device and sleep apnea mask, all symptoms stopped, completely.

  2. SleepyAllDay

    This sounds like narcolepsy. I don’t experience the difficulty breathing but I do have the excessive day time sleepiness with vivid nightmares almost every night. If I take a nap they are worse. They will be reoccurring dreams that I can’t wake up from and when I finally do wake up, I’m terrified and disoriented and have been profusely sweating on occasion I’ll wake up briefly and be paralyzed. I also hear rock music playing at night when I first lay down. When I lift my head the music stops and when I lay my head back down it starts again. I’ve woken in the middle of the night to loud banging on the door and jump out of bed to see no one is there and my dogs aren’t barking. It’s apparently all in my head but it seems as real as anything else in life. I’m experiencing short term memory loss. I have been having automatic behaviors a lot. I’ll know something needs done and when I go to do it, it’s already been done. But I have no memory of doing it. I lose about 15 minutes or so every morning while getting ready for work. I’m guessing that I must be dozing off and not realizing it. I feel like I’m awake the whole time though only noticeable event is the time lapse of about 15 minutes. Ask your doctor for a sleep study.

  3. Recso

    Hello, I’m a weirdo. In my lifetime I have pushed the envelope of sleep related phenomena’s. Meaning I have encountered parasomnia’s repeatedly and consistently in the past. They were side-effects of the lifestyle I used to live. Some episodes were scary, others just strange but all still fascinated me. I know how to trigger terrifying hypnogogic sleep paralysis. Terrifying because they involve an “electrifying buzzing sensation” up and down my back’s nervous system at the same time my body feels paralyzed and accompanied by the scary sensation of a presence in the room. I can somehow see the room I am in but not the presence yet I know I am asleep. I know it because I am trying to move while also trying to yell out the words, “In Jesus Name” because the presence feels evil. I have read in ghost hunting books and websites that say to beware of feeling electrical sensations in your body while being somewhere haunted because this is how possessions feel like. Remember the sound that was made when a ghost possessed a human body in the movie Ghost? The not so funny thing is this effect can be predictably brought on when it is finally time to rest after being wired awake for days from substance-induced all night vigils. Here is some more arcane knowledge. With another substance I figured out how to cause hypnopompic hallucinations where the sensed presence in the room actually takes a form. I call it the shape shifter. Usually I see myself in the same environment that I am actually physically asleep in. Sometimes the dreamscape/hallucination I find myself in is slightly different in some ways but overall the location I am in resembles the physical place I am asleep at. I am not aware I am asleep until I wake up looking for the shape shifter. At most I have probably encountered variations of the shape shifting presence about a dozen times. In my encounters the forms the sensed presence has taken has been familiar figures in my life like my mother, my oldest daughter or my step-mother. A time or two I could not make out who it was but I remember trying to interact with it. The experiences were not fearful events nor do I recall sleep paralysis of the type where I feel trapped inside myself.

    • Mark

      I find it very fascinating the description you relay are very similar to my own experiences.  There have been a few other characters in my night visitor ensemble but many just as you describe. In the begging I would call them “menacing spirits” but also picked up the term “shape shifters” in my readings. I usually wake to the them versus when I’m falling asleep but found the presence more uncomfortable when they arrived as I was falling asleep.  I have taken out a few lamps and water glasses defending myself with my pillow over the years.   I have experienced the “presences” in the room, the “old hag” point her finger and screaming, the “little Kid” standing there and staring at me along with others.  I never experienced sleep paralysis and after I started researching all of this I stopped being scared of it.  I’ve always been a fan of lucid dreaming and realized this was just my deeper mind tapping into something else…  One experience that happens the most is when I wake sometimes from a dream I see lit symbols almost like ancient writings or ruins.  They fade in and out on the walls and I will lay there trying to see all the things moving around the room.  The room almost has it’s own greenish glow.  I have notice the colors are often in whites, greens, black and red.  I wondered if that had something to do with the various light on the clocks, tv or computers.  I do notice that when I wake to the red there seem to be a higher level of anxiety feeling of danger.  I find myself binding the spirit in the name of Jesus just to be on the safe side.  I have also noticed that as my eyes worsen with age, I can’t see things as clearly. Bottom line is, once I stopped being afraid of it and realized it was just another level of my sub-conscience I have been able to except that sometimes I wake up and see weird shit…. 

      • Julie

        Yes. This is sleeping paranoia hallucinations. I have bone chilling terrors about finding my son dead but he’s alive and well. I did lose a daughter and part of me died with her. I was awake and heard her call me Mama, and I rolled over and she was there. She was happy and I felt relief and never saw her again. But, I’m very interested in what you’re talking about and want to talk more but I have to get off my stupid phone and go do something other than trying to find out how to fix these terrors that are real but looked at like I’m crazy if I talk about it.
        If you don’t mind, I will text you more tomorrow.

      • Julie

        My eyes are rapidly deteriorating. I’ve become totally color blind and Legally blind. Everyday I wake up and my clock is set in a different time.
        I think you’re right about the fear part. I pray and bind evil spirits. One night I called my roommate to sleep with me and he freaked out when he came in because of the temperature in my room, freezing and just the overall creepy feeling. He couldn’t see the shadows crawling up the walls and didn’t want to stay in my room but I convinced him to stay.
        The shadows would not go away while I was praying so I started praying scriptures like “ye though I walk through the shadow of death, I will feel no evil”. I kept doing it over and over and finally I felt my shirt blow out and it was gone.
        This sounds so stupid and crazy. Maybe I am, I don’t know but none the less, it is still paralysing and I’m afraid to breathe or look or move.
        But they say evil goes to people that are afraid, so I’ve tried making fun of them and refusing to give into their games and it got better but 18yrs later it’s come back much stronger but only in my dreams, that feel like real life completely. And I wake up in fear and anxious every single morning.
        I don’t understand this or how to make it stop

        • Nedine

          Dear Julie. I also had a very scary experience last night. I was asleep and woke up feeling scared. I looked to the end of my bed (on my husbands side) and it looked like a dark bold male figure was on its knees or leaning of our bed staring at me. For minutes i was unable to move and tried everything to get my husbands attention to wake him up. When i eventually managed to make a sound my husband woke up and sat up, but as he did the shape disappeared under the bed. I was scared and crying and 100% sure there was something there but my husband got up and walked through the whole house and couldn’t find anything out of place. Im now at work still shaken and barely able to keep my eyes open still trying to figure out what happened in our room last night.

    • Anne Crudup

      I have experienced different sleep problems for years including sleep paralysis. The most perplexing thing is events that occurred that, to this day, I don’t know if they really happened or if it was a dream. Is that a common thing? I also dream that I have awakened and perform everyday tasks, but when I really wake up I realize that didn’t really happen.

      Anyway my best friend called me tonight in tears and very frightened. She has been having sleep paralysis episodes lately. Her husband recently died, so I attributed it to all the stress she has been under. I slept over one night, and she was so scared, she slept with her hand on my arm so she could squeeze it and I could wake her up. It was pitiful because she was crying in her sleep, and she never cried.

      Tonight was different however. She thought she was awake and the lights weren’t working and she was walking through the house. When she got to her bedroom she said she saw herself in the bed and freaked out. Then I guess she woke up and called me hysterical. I thought to myself that it sounded more like a hallucination,so Ive started to do some research. She is on antidepressants and is addicted to pain medication which she is on methadone for. She has been on these medicines for years and never had anything like this happen before. Sorry this is so long, but I am very worried about her, especially the part about seeing herself in the bed. Has anyone else experienced this? Would this be a case of sleep hallucination? I don’t know what to do to help her. Thank you.

  4. Haley

    I’m 16 and I believe I have sleep paralysis. I have had it for as long as I can remember, and I can recall the exact things I’ve been seeing since I was 8. When I’m trying to go to bed I’ll see things. I can feel things around me and I hear sounds that aren’t there. I’ll see anything from people coming towards me to ghosts in the corner of my room to flying monsters outside my window. I always have the feeling that something is behind me, even when I’m laying on my back. The shadows turn into the most random horrifying things and they come at me and make my heart skip beats and i panicky really bad. It feels so real. All this makes me sweat and I’m paralyzed in bed. Because I still live at home I have to scream to wake up my dad (when it gets really bad) to come help me and calm me down (which i hate doing because he thinks I’m crazy). I have to sleep with all doors and windows closed and all (3) of my lights on. Even then sometimes I will have episodes. I’ve gone to therapy but the therapists never know what I’m feeling. Nobody can relate to me and it sucks. It’s hard only getting two hours of sleep a night when you’re in high school. If anybody has what I have or can give me tips , please do. I’m desperate.

    • Vicky

      hello, i have had sleep paralysis for the past 12 years i think, and I have the same symptoms as you, especially the week before my period I have these terrifing hours of trying to sleep but as soon as the hallucinations and distorted voices start i know i won’t be sleeping that night, and if i do my mind feels like a horror movie and as soon as i fall asleep something starts haunting me. the best way i have found that it kind of works, if you absolutely can’t go to therapy, is to turn on the lights, of course, get up, no matter how sleepy and tired you are, drink some water, watch something funny on your phone, anything to get your mind off of it. i also drink some valerian or chamomile before sleep, but if you haven’t already, talk to your parents about it and make a plan, good luck!

    • Anne Crudup

      That’s a little odd. When it first happened to me I was screaming at my college roommate to wake me up but she didn’t. When I finally did wake up, I was so angry, and yelled at her for not waking me. She told me I wasn’t making a sound!

  5. Bobbie

    When I was younger I used to have the sleep paralysis I couldn’t move but I would be awake I could look around the room, I was to terrified to move, I felt there was someone there to kill me my sceams would only come out as air. Now it’s different I see things at night it will often pleg me for months then suddenly stop. It usually some thing tickles my nose or face until I wake then things will be flotting above me I can rarly remember by morning what they were. So for the longest time I thought they were vivid strange dreams until one night my husband woke at the same time as they woke me. This time it was a cobra black (they are always black) I was asking him “if he could see it” he said “no” just then It struck at my face as I sceemed in terror it disappeared. There’s other thing that I see and hear at night some scary some not. On top of that I have horrible dreams that are scary or sad but always bad or very strange I don’t think iv ever had a good dream in my life. I just want to know if I’m the only one who has this, people I tell don’t understand that even if it’s in my mind it’s real at the time for me. Every time I say something people look at me like I’m cazy or lying. I just want to sleep in peace. If there is something I could do to stop it that would be great. I have tryed all the common sense things no help.

    • Linda Campbell

      Be checked for Narcolepsy. I have it and my hallucinations are severe. Very scary and it’s starting to affect me even when I’m awake

      • Julie

        Maybe a super stupid question but I don’t know much about narcolepsy. Isn’t that when you fall asleep in short intervals? And a lot? Do you have these dreams in short naps?

    • Julie

      Yeah!! Sad! I didn’t even think about that. A lot of times I dream about running and my son is missing and I’m panicking and can’t breathe and muscles hurt and I’m terrified.. and then I find him. Not alive and the pain is So excruciating and I can’t touch him, I can just see him and screaming and crying and my heart feels like it is being pulled out of my chest. I’ve never felt so dead and a feeling of terrified that doesn’t have a way of being said. My husband recorded me talking and screaming one night because I was terrifying my whole family at night. I wake with tears and horror almost every morning. Like I can’t get out of bed because something very bad is waiting for me.
      My son is 15 and the most precious human being, we are so so close, I’ve always said if anything happened to him, I would have to die too because I could never live without him.
      That is not too often though. I have bone chilling dreams every night but if you have someone to record you, it’s horrible to hear what you’re saying but then I started with therapy. Just made me remember trauma from my childhood. I hope we find a way out of this.
      Good luck to you

  6. Pearl

    I grew up with a Christian mother. So I know and have heard about evil spirits. My mom always said that if I had bad dreams to always “proclama a dios” basically call out to god. When I was younger, like 14 I want to say, I experienced this feeling where I was asleep but awake. I couldn’t move and couldn’t speak. It feels so scary to me… That i automatically start calling out for god. Like that other person said… In Jesus name! Then it happened to me again when I was 22. I was asleep and I was awake.. My mouth would move because I was trying to scream. And then I suddenly felt like my daughter was in front of me saying Mami, Mami. .but when I woke up she want there. I went to checsleeping and she was sleeping.. Lastnight I experienced it again. My kids were all in the room with me. They were sleeping. I was falling to sleep. Idk for go long…but all of a sudden my eyes open… And Im trying to scream but nothing is coming out… And I couldn’t move I felt like I was frozen. I swear I saw a glowing shadow walk by my bedside then it was only in the corner of my eye…. I felt so scared that I tried to move my head to the side , because It really felt terrifying. Then I woke up. I was so scared that I texted my bf. . I love yo. .like I was barley waking up from it.. But that how scared I was. Im already a very scared person when it comes to scary things. I tried to ignore it for a while. But Lastnight scared the living shit out of me Im not going to lie. I can still hear myself trying to say Jesus lord Jesus! Im 25. It gives me anxiety. I was still traumatized from my 2nd experience. It almost feels like your taking your last breaths. My son has autism and gigs sleeping pattern isn’t get normal. I didn’t have him at age 14 though. I was 23 so it can’t be due to his sleeping patterns interrupting mine.

    • Henry

      Hi, I have had very bad hypnopompic and hypnogogic hallucinations for the last six to seven months. I have had them since I was 12 but now they are way worse. I used to take ambiem which helped a lot, but am off it now. If I stay up for more than 17-18 hours I have terrible hallucinations. They often last hours. I remember most of it when I wake up minus some of the specific details. I am also autistic. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s but now apparently they don’t know how to classify it according to the dsm 5. I have dealt with every sleep issue you can imagine in my life. Many times over. I am a Christian but for a while I lost my way. In some ways this could and many times is spiritual, but it doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. Demons hate us and trust me I have seen the damage they can cause. Even to believers. They attack us when we are asleep because we cannot call on Jesus, especially if we cannot move or speak. I once suffered from sleep paralysis, until I battled a spirit and defeated it by saying Jesus name. If you cant talk, say it in your mind, until you regain your ability to speak. That was 5 or more years ago, have not had sleep paralysis since. Now I fight another battle. I also believe some of it is physiological, but in my experience meds can be very hit or miss. Even with the ambien I still had them, just way less and not with the intensity I have them now. If you want to lessen them, don’t stay up more than 16 hours or so if you can help it. Being fatigued has always made it worse not better. Hope this helps someone. Good luck and God bless.

    • Julie

      I feel you. I used to scream in my dream and it wouldn’t come out in words. It sounded like something muffled and scary. Scared everyone in my house.
      Now it has allowed me to scream using words but it also makes me cry and feel pain like I feel in my dreams. Nobody gets it. I don’t know what to do. I pray and stay away from weird stuff but my dreams take me to places I’ve never seen or make any sense.
      I hope one day we find an answer.
      Good luck to you.

  7. James

    I am diagnosed with mixed sleep apnea. However, today I had my CPAP 2-month trial check in w/ my sleep specialist. BTW, I suppose I should mention that I have just been diagnosed w/ sleep apnea, round-a-bout late September, and had a titration study for CPAP machine in mid-October. Ok, so today I saw my sleep doc. The update wasn’t good. I told him that my sleep is still poor, meaning frequent arousals, STILL! Feeling tired, despite the CPAP machine, is still a daily struggle, esp. at work, which is a BIG DEAL…w/o saying I’ll tell you this, if I were to fall asleep during certain times at work, I could potentially harm a helpless person.

    Moving on, he said that it sounded like I had Narcoleptic symptoms, not just sleep apnea. That comment blew me away. I had NEVER even entertained the idea. – OK, I’m getting ahead of myself. So, he mentions the narcolepsy comment, goes on to say that it’s time we try a mild stimulant. Considering the CPAP may be helping, it’s obviously not the entire solution. So, now he’s Rx’d Provigil (modafinil). Said to start low and in a month’s time, if I need to increase from once daily, we can try it two times a day. On the other, hand if it’s too strong, just take half.

    Now, when I got home I spent a lot of time reading the professional monograph on modafinil and what drugs to be careful of because of the pharmacokinetics of modafinil itself. I am medically educated, so this is something I always do and everyone should. The patient hand out is not enough information, so I nerd out and pull up my monographs. HAHA!

    Sorry sidetracked mind on board here. Back to Narcolepsy and this “Hallucinatory dream state”, which I have NEVER heard of, hypnogogic (hypnogogia) and hypnopompic (hypnopompia) hallucinations.

    When I read this I almost fainted. Mid 2016 I experienced what I was told to be a Serotonin Storm followed and/or preceded by Serotonin Syndrome. This was due to Rx medication mixed with an OTC nutritional supplement. The “storm” portion involved vomiting, diahhrhea, urinating (all at the same time). Sleeping for hours and hours. Not eating a single bite and barely drinking a thing. Other “fun” stuff too, but here is the revelation.

    I kept having, over 3 days of sleeping constantly, says for bathroom breaks, these dreams that were SO REAL I could only describe them as hallucinatory in nature. IN FACT, when I snapped out of this week long serotonin nightmare (thanks to a forced hospital visit), I kept trying to tell everyone that I was having dreams that felt like waking hallucinations. It was too hard to describe to everyone. I LITERALLY could not distinguish the, oh let’s say the consequences, of the dreaminations from real life. For instance, I had an episode where I was somehow the catalyst for my mom and stepmother’s divorce. When I woke up, as it were, I called my dad and said that I was so sorry and was everything ok with him and mom? He replied, yeah…as far as I know, why? I said something like, I had a dream, but it felt so real, etc.

    In the end, I had at least 5 more of these dreaminations. I had to ask family/friends or whoever was involved if they really happened, but in the end, they all said, “no”. However, I knew somehow I was dreaming them, but I also knew I was hallucinating. Yet, they felt so real, my peace of mind caused me to check on the ones that involved people I had hurt during the episodes.

    Here is my real question…FINALLY! HA! – OK, do you think this was somehow part of the Serotonin Syndrome, OR was this because of some Narcoleptic episode? I am now going to spend all night, thanks to this website and the stories I read of yall’s experiences, researching the subject matter and the condition of Narcolepsy vs. mixed Apnea. —– Oh lord, this is my world.

  8. Clare

    I have suffered with sleep paralysis in the past. it took me years to realise what it was and was very scary but realise it was because I was under severe stress. As I closed my eyes I could feel like there was a presence in the room (felt like being abducted by aliens!)and then all of a sudden I would feel this pressure down on my chest and I couldn’t breath – I was paralysed but my mind was awake. I couldn’t lift my head or my arms off the bed no matter how hard I tried. I had this awful ringing in my ears too. Thankfully that hasn’t happened lately but I think I am hallucinating mainly in my dreams – smell of fumes/petrol, burnt toast and feeling that I am being strangled.

  9. Isa

    Been living this… Forever.
    Had a sleep study without anything showing up (because I didn’t sleep much, so nothing really happened). I had the test done for sleep apnea and it was negative. I hallucinate at night. I ear voices, I feel people in the room. I feel touched (often sexually), I feel watched. I will sometimes feel physical pain. Sometimes I smell chemicals. My skin will burn. So I basically have all the different kind of hallucinations. I will shout, swear at ”people”. I will open the light and everything stops. But as soon as I go back to bed it starts again. It always starts 30 minutes after falling asleep and stops around 2h am. I always remember the next day. And during the night I know it doesn’t make sense, I will even tell myself out loud, but it doesn’t stop it. And it’s always violent or scary, often sexual (being touched by stressor). My doctor has no idea what is going on. Not sleep paralysis, not apnea, no mental issues during the day, not just bad dreams, etc. I am at loss. Female, 36 year old, anxiety and body image issue s. Anyone relating ? Any idea???

  10. Logan

    Get the hypnogogic type occasionally (while falling asleep). I can feel my body going dormant, but my brain is still awake. I can hear and feel and see but can’t move. While I can hear, what I hear is usually amplified or hallucinatory. I try to yell or speak and a weak grunt might come out. Eventually I can rouse myself fully awake if I struggle enough….never tried just sitting there to see if I go unconscious, because it’s too weird. Once wife heard me struggling to talk and thought I was dreaming, but I told her I was conscious and paralyzed…trying to wake up! Asked her to shake me if she’s ever aware of me making weird grunting noises.

    Another recent episode…I started to shut down, then heard someone counting down from 10. Got to about 6 and I was able to rouse myself awake. Auditory hallucinations. Didn’t scare me for some reason, but was definitely weird.

    I remember episodes of this as a child, but don’t remember many occurrences in adult life until it came back in the last few years around age 40. I have (always) had anxiety and social phobia problems. Used to use sleep aids and now I don’t, because I don’t have any way to access a doctor to get any. I attribute these episodes to lack of something to just knock me out, plus stress.

    Similar to what the first poster said, it always occurs about 3-5 times for me before sleep actually sets in properly. I always know it’s happening, and have to fight to stop it….and the only way to fix it is to awaken fully before trying to sleep again.

  11. Debbie Hamilton

    My husband,who will be 70 this June, has started to have hallucinations during the night. This is particularly devastating to me because he thinks I am satisfying myself sexual during the night. He usually wakes me, wants to check the bed, gets an aggressive and accusation tone with me. He says he smells things, hears things, and even feels the bed move. (that is impossible because we have one of those high dollar mattresses). Nothing I can say or do can make him see that it is not happening. I am losing sleep, not to mention it is terrifying and heartbreaking for me. He is not taking any medications, he does have a breathing machine for sleep but usually takes it off during the night, I’m guessing in his sleep because he does not remember taking it off. I am at wits end! He is retired, I still hold a fulltime job. I just don’t know what to do.

    • Berlin

      My father had the same symptoms as he got older. My mom told me he would acuse her of having an affair and hiding him in the closet while he was sleeping. He would also move his hands while sleeping as if fighting with someone. He told my mom that he would sleep in a different room so as not to hurt her. A few months later he was diagnosed with Parkinsons.

  12. Mandy

    My hypnopompic hallucinations used to never be scary, however, they’ve seemed to have changed to the point where I think I need to see a therapist. During my hallucinations I can move, talk, and I know that I’m awake. The majority of my hallucinations don’t bring on anxiety and fear, but more and more have been. One of my latest ones was that I saw a spider crawling on my wall; I jumped out of bed and woke up my boyfriend and the second he turned on the light the spider vanished out of thin air and I realised that I had finally woke up. My boyfriend helped me look for the spider, but it was never real. In addition I have jumped out of bed and ran out of my room from “monsters” and didn’t stop hallucinating until I was out in the middle of my hallway. These hallucinations are always visionary, but can be accompanied by sound or touch. I don’t take any drugs and I have always had these hallucinations since I was a child, but it seems that they’ve turned frightening since I’ve started college. My biggest fear is that I’m afraid I might accidentally hurt myself or my boyfriend while hallucinating.

    • Mandy

      My previous post didn’t seem clear enough that these hallucinations only happen when I’m in the inbetween state of sleep and waking up.

      • Suzy

        I too experience hypnopompic spider hallucinations. I had them every night for three weeks straight. When I read that my brain is between a state of sleep and wakefulness, I decided I would try to use the “awake” part of my brain to control the images and make them less scary. I simply told the hallucination that it would morph into something less scary. It did! But then a scarier image appeared on the other side of the bed, like a cosmic joke. So, instead of trying to change the images, a friend recommended that before I go to sleep, I tell myself I won’t be afraid of anything I encounter during the night. This worked really well but my sleep was still disturbed by the images (although I wasn’t scared of them). In the end, the approach that has worked the best for me is to wear an eye mask I bought online. That way when I “wake” during the night, the hallucinations aren’t staring me in the face and I can more quickly go back to sleep. It’s really interesting to me that these images are literally projections outside your head, which is why they’re called hallucinations and not dreams, I suppose. So the mask actually works. My “awake” brain can decide to go back to sleep and not look. Sometimes though I wonder if the hallucinations are my subconscious mind trying to tell me something and I’m literally putting blinders on to information I need. But I also need my sleep so for now I’ll keep the blinders on.

        • Mark

          I have seen the spider too. Its hard to explain but they look like a bunch of black lines on top of each other squiggling up the wall. I have a theory for what I’m seeing. I have a lot of neck and sinus pain that cause a lot of pain behind my eyes. When I lay down and close my eye and move them form side to side, like what happens in REM sleep, I see these bright line flashing and moving with the movement of my eyes. A month ago I woke up to the spider on the wall, along with the headache and neck pain that usually accompany it and in the moment of “alpha” I realized it was the “negative” image of what I was seeing when I would see the bright lines. Guess it’s the same as when you look into a bright light then close your eyes and see a black spot…

          • Julie

            I don’t understand what the spider is? I see black cloudy shadows or demon like forms, crawling up the walls and over my bed. Is the spider different?
            I did try sleeping with the eye mask on, to block light, or keep my eyes from opening and I can’t see scary things. It did help for awhile but I think it was more psychological and My case, has gotten much much worse, sleep walking and physically feeling pain when I’m in a night terror, it is the very same thing as being awake. The fear is so gripping that I cry and scream out loud and wake up with the pain and tears from my so called Dreams.
            I feel hopeless. I don’t know anyone, especially a doctor who would understand. They can’t understand if they haven’t gone through it and it’s so frustrating to have my husband tell me, It was just a dream or other things that just make me mad at him for not going through it himself.

  13. Shanna

    Ive always had problems with anxiety. But lately my anxiety has been at its highest peak more than ever. Ive been struggling with sleep for the past four days. Having nightmares out of this world, back to back. I wake up screaming and crying. Started hallucinating two days ago and hearing voices as well. Im scared to go to sleep now just due to the nature of the dreams. My boy friend is scared to death of me sleeping, only because I wake up multiple times in one night screaming or grabbing him calling his name in my sleep. He told me to google sleep deprivation with anxiety and thank you everybody, I also know I am not crazy. Its definitely a struggle and I wish all of you guys the best with this struggle. You are not alone

    • Julie

      I’ve done SO MUCH RESEARCH on night terrors and I went through a period of 2 months, with very very little sleep. I started getting sick physically, my muscles stopped working and I couldn’t eat. I would throw up and I was so afraid to Try to sleep, but I kept physically sicker. It got to wear I couldn’t drive or make any decisions and felt so weak my head would spin and light and noise became normal every time I stood up.
      I finally found a therapist that is quite common now, that does Biofeedback. It’s totally Not Dangerous but it’s just 2 vibrating pads you hold in your hands that get your eyes and brain to work together with right side and left. It takes stress or trauma and combines it with reality and kinda Trivializes it. It actually works immediately. I had severe trauma that came out in different ways in my dreams. After the 1st time, I had my dad in the room with me, to make sure it was safe, and I was shaking very hard, thinking about something that scared me, but my shaking stopped and what tortured me from childhood that I didn’t recognize became something I could not feel about anymore. Like a mental trash can. I promise, if you try this, just once, you will be able to address all your fears that show up in your sleep life and you’ll want to do it everyday, but, won’t need too. Now that I understand the mental tools that I can practice at home, I honestly have nothing to Biofeedback away anymore.
      Please research it and try it if you can. There are zero side effects or long or short term problems.
      Let me know if you get to try it. It saved me and I function normally again. Other than Night terrors, which have nothing to do with past trauma or stress related issues.
      Good luck.

  14. Lisa

    I am so glad I found this site. Last night was only my fourth episode of hallucinating. It started abruptly about 2 weeks ago and I have no idea why. I just quit a stressful job and I have no undue stress or anxiety at this point in my life. I too feel as if this is evil and I end up praying fervently as I attempt sleep again. I also hear foot steps and feel someone bumping my bed- my husband hears, feels or sees nothing. I am embarrassed by this and I really do not want to see my doctor for this. I am 48. Again, thank you all for sharing. At least now I know I am not crazy or alone.

    • Julie

      But…. what do we do?? I take a medicine for Night terrors, estazolam. It worked years ago, but does nothing anymore. I walk in my sleep at least 3 x a night. I don’t want to tell a doctor this embarrassing thing and have him think I’m crazy, because if Most people in the world CANNOT begin to understand that it’s Real to us. Not a nightmare, then how do we get help?
      I don’t want to think anything is Evil when I’m a good person. Why would something evil bother with good people just sleeping.
      What does your husband think about it? Does he feel bad for you or believe you or just try to explain it away?

  15. Jack

    It’s after 3am right now and I have just woken up from this, I’ve only had this a few times in my life. In my sleep paralysis I could hear the voice of a girl I grew up with in high school, she was shouting my name and the shouts turned into sort of Witch like cackles. I’ve found myself trying to force myself up from my bed but could not get up as it felt like something was restraining my arms. I was also smelling a sort of burnt toast smell as others have said which is strange. I’m 24 years old, I think I know why this is happening to me. On Friday just passed I was out with my buddy and sometimes we are prone to using drugs and alcohol. I was up all night into Saturday and ended up calling an end to the nonscence on Saturday night into Sunday morning with no sleep. Now I’ve been stressed out due to work etc and think it’s all came together. I feel sorry for people that have this as a regular occurrence as it’s very frightening. I hope you all find some way to cut it out

  16. Barbara

    Recently, I had a sleep study where they make one take naps. I felt I had slept in only one of the naps, but was curious to the results as I had short, weird, vivid dreams all four naps. It turns out that I did sleep in all four naps even though I thought I was awake. The dreams, my doctor told me were hypnogogic hallucinations. I never entered into REM/dream sleep. I now realize that I have had the hallucinations for many years. They aren’t scary most of the time.

  17. Julie Blue

    My boyfriend thinks I have encountered some bad spirits at some point in my life and that these spirits are upon me when I have go through sleep paralaysis.

  18. Robert

    I am frequenstly awakened by noises of all kinds, buzzing, clicking, whirring…ect. and by voices as well of all kinds of people; then when I’m lying awake sometimes I hear the sound/voice clearly. Is this a hallucination between waking and sleeping and why do the sound last while I’m awake. They never happen when I’m not in bed. Explanation please?

  19. jade

    Hi , i have these awful hallucinations sometimes.They are always to do with a giant snake or a spider or a creature of some sort (which is weird because snakes and spiders i am not normally affraid off.) yesterday i was lying on the couch i had been up watching movies on tv because i didnt feel well (nothing scary) i turned the tv of and when to sleep then next thing i know i open my eyes and this Huge black spider is falling on me from the roof i scream and run in to my bed where my husband and two year old daughter where fast asleep terrified because i though this spider was on me. i kept trying to tell my self it wasn’t real but then the spider fell from my hair down onto my body i started hitting myself all over trying to kill it ( even though on some level i knew it wasn’t real ) i then ripped all the blankets of the bed and the pillows and shook them all out and there was nothing. i woke my husband up and made him check all over me for the spider and then after about and hour of calming down i was able to get back to sleep.

  20. Karen

    My 12 year old son has had sleep hallucinations and night terrors about spiders along with seeing random objects( a plate on his pillow or a glass bottle on the bed) for 9 months. He does not get feelings of being paralyzed actually he has the opposite feeling and has come close to running out of his 2nd floor bedroom window and out the front door. We’ve tried having an earlier structured bedtime routine, tried natural sleep aids like Valerian Root,Hopps etc.. , meditation,diffusing essential oils, talk therapy and hypnotherapy. Nothing is working. He’s a happy kid and has a loving family , not a lot of homework or stress. Can’t seem to figure this out. I sleep in his room on the floor to keep him safe and the 2-6 wake ups a night are exhausting !

  21. Esined

    Is the following a form of sleep paralysis?
    Feeling “awake” and suddenly becoming aware I can’t open my eyes or move my body. Panic begins but then suddenly I can see my room and even sit up, sometimes my husband or children will come in the room and talk to me. Then I look and see that they aren’t my kids or my husband, but just look like them and I realize I’m still asleep. I again struggle to move or speak or open my eyes and feel panic like I’m being held down. Then I finally open my eyes and get up and begin to tell my husband about what just happened. But again I notice something is not right like the door is in the wrong place or another person comes in who doesn’t live with us. I realized that I’m still asleep AGAIN — and this cycle can happen 2, 3 or 4 or more times before I finally truly do awaken, by now terrified and disturbed. Also not trusting my senses at all. Am I awake? If it still a “dream”?? I walk through my house looking around and trying to reassure myself that I AM awake and alright. But I won’t go back to bed. This sometimes happens so frequently, that I avoid going to bed and fear sleeping.

    • Jo-Anine

      I just spent what felt like hours trying to free myself from one of these dreams. Not knowing if your awkae or still asleep is one of the worst things I have ever experienced. I’ve always dreamed a lot. Strange things, most of the times confusing. But I’ve never had one of these, until tonight. I could feel myself sleeping and then suddenly I would awake. I’d reach for my bed side lamp and try to put it on, only to realise it’s not working. I ignore it, telling myself the bulb must have broken again, and pick up my cellphone, which I then can’t seem to unlock. At this point I’m beyond frustrated. I’ve made my way downstairs in the dark many times but as I walk down I start to notice things. Each time it’s something different that makes me realise that I’m still asleep. First it was sounds. My parents talking, even when I know they went to bed hours ago. Then the distance. The trip down the stairs felt shorter, as if there was less steps. Finally, people looked different. I’d find my brother in the kitchen and tell him of my weird dream only to realise that the person looked similar but bigger or taller. Every time I realise that I’m not fully awake I struggle getting myself back to my “body”. It’s like I’m stuck in this double and when i finally do “jump” back to my body the process starts over again. I’ve gotten so desperate in these dream-like situations that I’ve tried throwing myself down the stairs or from my bed. Sometimes I’d have whole conversations with my friends, who magically appear, only to realise I’m still asleep. The last few times I knew there was a chance that I might not really be awake and that I might still be stuck. What got my out was the bed side lamp. In the beginning of every dream I reach for the light. If the light is out, I know I’m still asleep so I instantly try getting myself out. It took a few times and i can’t really explain how I flung myself back to my body. I think what caused this dream-like experience for me was the late nap I took. I don’t take naps. I can’t sleep in daytime. I think the fact that the one I did take was very late (in which I basically got up, got something to eat and went back to bed) and that it was not something I normally did, played a big role in this experience.

  22. pri

    Hii , I have this hallucination sometimes…last time is happened is just before three to four days…I was trying to sleep and when I fall asleep after almost 15 min I was feeling someone is at my back side and sleeping with me… i was feeling the sense of touch of that ..n it was very horrifying . I want to call my rumiee and cry loudly but my muscle was too tight to do movement..and even I was unable to speak….before also I had experienced 2 times this hallucinations…it is the worst experience i read about sleep paralysis and hallucinations nd it dont cause death…before also I experienced that someone is whispering near my bed …but it happens very rarely…so I just close my eyes that time n try to sleep ..

  23. Molly

    I have had these dreams since my freshman year in college, so 34 years now – regularly in clusters usually during stressful times. They ARE mortifying to this day, but manageable. Once the sleep paralysis hits and the eerie sensation of being loomed over by murky presence(s) or the dreadful feeling of an actual body pressing itself down on you are acknowledged in your twilight state, you must force yourself awake – fully awake – it may take a while, but you must get up and shake it off. If you don’t push yourself through to a wakeful state, the fog of semi-consciousness will pull you right back into the hyponogogic or hypnopompic fright-fest!
    Make yourself walk around and have a glass of water, check your surroundings for signs of reality (alert and oriented to time, place, person, siuation), then turn on the TV or do some other distracting activity for 10-15 minutes before going back to bed. It does help to stave off a recurrent dream.
    The next day, take time to explore anxiety/stress triggers which may have precipitated your episode(s). Many people also complain of migraines, perhaps not coinciding. If you pay better attention to what your mind & body are telling you, you may be able to say, “EUREKA!” and lessen the incidence and/ or severity of your seemingly hapless, hopeless, helpless sleep state. After all, sleep is a time if extreme external vulnerability, but also a time of extreme internal importance. Anyone without adequate rest/REM cyclic sleep can lose their innate resiliency and suffer from mild zombie to full-on psychosis.. Genuinely analyze yourself and your chosen habitat: relationships, profession, circumstances in general.
    Research sleep disorders. This will help your sleeping self to rationalize. Many creative personalities in the 1800’s (artists, writers etc.) used to try to illicit these states by using drugs or dtinking absinthe in order to attain an extracorpreal experience which freed their ability to express themselves. Other folks attribute it as a gift by which one is able to commune with spirits, aliens and such.
    The incubi and sucubi are well-documented, yet unwelcome forty-wink foreigners causing all kinds of disturbances from the terrifying to the erotic.
    Whatever you choose to believe, read up on it, arm yourself with a better understanding and sleep well, my friends!

  24. Julie

    Lisa, I’ve experienced these evil, terrifying dreams or hallucinations or whatever, Nobody can help me with since I was a child and I’m 43 now. I’ve prayed and prayed while these things are happening and Sometimes it helps. I Think. Someone else mentioned NOT being held down but jolting out of a dream in a very panicked anxious scared way, so bad that I’m afraid to get out of bed. I’ve also felt ( it had to be real! I wasn’t asleep yet) I would feel my cat walking up the bed, to me. Each step coming closer but I began to believe or realize that it wasn’t my cat coming up the bed, there was nothing there. I’ve also been too embarrassed to tell anyone but my husband that I always feel like there’s a witch or a old lady with long legs and arms and fingers and she runs like a dog up my walls and I’m so scared that she’s going to Get Me!! So ridiculous, so embarrassing at my age. I feel a sense of Coldness in my room that is so painful that I can’t move and have to wake my husband to get me blankets. I’ve seen dark shadows crawling up my walls and I pray and pray and that time it worked.
    It sounds sinister, but I’m a Christian and don’t let negativity or anything evil or disturbing in my house or around my kids.
    So, I’m crying in my dreams and screaming again and my son woke me up and wanted to know why I was crying, because I really was. Last night, or actually this morning I had one of the worst nightmares or terrors or hallucinations ever and when I was asleep, I felt someone from behind pull my shoulder back and was trying to break it off . I could feel the bone crushing and ripping me out of bed into the night terror.
    When I woke up, for real I guess, my arm was hurting.
    So, my dreams are coming out into my awakened life.
    My husband, of course said I probably laid on my arm and it fell asleep but I wasn’t sleeping on that side and to me ” these things are REAL”.
    That was super long and embarrassing but The Praying part, wanted to ask you if it works? Do you pray before you sleep, do you think it’s a real evil thing? Our house is Christian and has no negative vibes or vices. It just feels so evil that I had to ask you

  25. Bryan

    I’ve always had hallucinations as far back as I can remember. They are all different. I’ve had some where I see a spider crawling on me or on the ceiling using its web to get closer to me, and I have had the majority of my hallucinations of a black silhouette staring at me from behind my restroom or bedroom door. It’s disturbing and it freaks me out. I would get up and start telling my wife to stop joking around when she herself is sleeping. I’ve learned to live with it. It’s something that happens often.

    • Julie

      Have her record what your screaming or saying. My husband did and I cried so hard when I heard the fear in the words I was saying, but it helped me get to the root of 1 of the problems. Tried therapy but talking about it doesn’t always mean it will heal problems or find meaning in them. Talking about it made it worse

  26. danielle

    being awake while asleep was so terrifying. it affected my meantal condition, also my day to day activity.it gave me so much scare. pills prescribed by doctors was no good.fortunately i came across a testimony online of a man who suffered from such until he got prayed for by diviner peterson of newgracefoundation.i also got free fro m sleeping paralysis after he paryed for me. now i enjoy my sleep. i urge anyone facing such or any problem to also contact him for help via email:newgracefoundation@gmail.com

  27. Lodi

    I have experienced something waird like, I am awake and half sleep at the same time but the things I see and hear seems so real.And when I am trying to look better and turn around; I can not move.Any advise on that?

  28. Jess

    Not condone anything bad…. but have any of you tried medicinal marijuana to help with sleep?
    I’ve been experiencing these moments of quick sleep and then I awake and my mind is working on something. Today it was poems and I write while I am sleeping but you cannot read the words.
    Anyway, I don’t suffer like some of you on here. But I brought up the medical marijuana because while it’s had a horrible rep for decades, studies are showing how much of a benefit it’s been to so many people.
    Any doctors on here who care to offer some insight on my thought? Good or bad?

  29. Michael

    I have this sleep paralysis since I’m about 16 years old and now I’m 32 and I still have it. It usually occurs when I ‘m in sleep deprivation, don’t have enough sleep , impaired sleep pattern. Different hallucinations I have experienced. But the worst thing, sometimes I have this feeling that my ears are going to explode, I feel some pressure in my ears especially when I’m trying to move during the attack. I have read a lot of article and there is no cure for this sleep disorder. But whenever I get enough sleep or go to sleep at the right time, I rarely have sleep disorder. It sounds funny if I tell you that instead of being scared of what I see in my hallucinations, I rather enjoy the scenario even it’s scary. Not all the time I’m seeing scary things, sometimes I’m seeing places that I have never seen before and it looks beautiful. The only problem is that I CAN’T MOVE.

  30. Michael

    Mine most of the time occurs before I sleep. I cannot breath sometimes or feel I’m drowning whenever I’m in the water (like under the sea) in my hallucination. Sometimes I have to stretch my legs and feet, pinch the end of my fingers and take a little walk before I go to sleep again to avoid another attack and it helps sometimes. I know all of us wish that we don’t have this sleep disorder.

  31. Francesca

    I can’t take this anymore. I hate bedtime I hate when everyone is sleeping. I hate going to sleep. I have had sleep hallucinations since I was a child and I’m now 34 and they keep happening. Sometimes I’ll be free of them for a few mi this then BOOM. Three nights in a row now. My fiancé hears me screaming but can’t do anything to help. Why is this happening and how can I stop this. I’m terrified.

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