When Hypnagogia Crosses the Line between Dreaming and Hallucinating

Night after night, millions of people head to their beds with no expectations of what sleep may bring. If they dream, then it’s no big deal and if they do not, then that’s alright, too. So what does it matter if a particularly strange dream happens to stand out in their minds?

Hypnagogia is a term that refers to the moment just between waking and dreaming. To be more specific, Hypnagogia is the transitional period that happens when you fall asleep or wake up. The phenomenon that takes place during this state can not be considered a dream because for the most part you’re still largely conscious when everything takes place.

One of the main things that happen during hypnagogia is hallucinating.

Read the following and see whether or not you’ve ever experienced something similar:

‘One morning I was laying in bed and I happened to experience something strange. I was laying on my stomach and my hand was laying by my side. I was trying to work up the energy to get out of bed when what felt like a large hand reached up through the mattress and grabbed the hand that was laying beside me. The hand tightened on mine and began to pull my bed down back into the mattress. It was not a regular hand either. The shape and size was wrong and the nails felt as if they were really long. The hand was VERY big and the grip was so strong that I couldn’t even imagine fighting against it. The sensation was so strange that I jerked. I was not afraid, but it was only after that involuntary motion that I realized that I hadn’t been entirely awake to start with. The night following I started having night terrors again.’

– Angela Benz, Dallas, Texas

‘My mother died in May, I like to play the lottery, and I was behind on my rent in 2007. All of that may seem totally unrelated, but on the anniversary of my mother’s death I was having a hard time falling asleep. I was watching something on TV and I must have started to doze off because the next thing I remember is feeling what felt like a child’s hand run down the length of my left arm. I woke up immediately because I thought it was one of my kids but everyone was asleep and when I asked them about it they had no idea what I was talking about. That same day I played the lottery and used the numbers that represented my age, my third child’s age (who was closest in size to the hand I felt), and the last few digits from the year my mom died. I won and that month I was able to catch up on my rent.’

– Diana M. Kajim, Chicago, Il

‘When I was a sophomore in high school, I had the trippiest dream in my life. Well, it was not really a dream, but something else. I was half asleep and trying to make the most out of my snooze button one morning before school, and I could have sworn that a man came to me right there in my bedroom and…well you can fill in the blanks. It was not a dream because he felt very real. I could feel body heat, hear him breathing, and feel the texture of his hair and everything. The same sensations that you would get when you interact with anybody. It actually shocked me when I blinked my eyes open all of the way only to find that no one was around and had never been. I even looked for him for a bit before I realized that he must have been a figment of my imagination. But I could have sworn someone was there, but now I’m not so sure. I just knew that it all seemed very real.’

– Hanna Markson, Montgomery, Alabama

Probably not, because I made these names up. But these are based about dreams I had in which women dreamt these dreams.

Hypnagogia is well known for producing hallucinations, auditory, visual, and even oratory and physical. Sometimes these hallucinations promote creativity and spark new ideas. Sometimes they are prophetic in some strange way that cannot be described yet. Whatever they are, their presence has created the belief that while in a state of hypnagogia a person’s mind reaches a level or intuition that is almost paranormal in its complexity. For those who’ve never experienced it, the process cannot be described, and for those that know all too well what it entails, the implications are often overwhelming.

No matter the who, where, when, why, or what, hypnagogia episodes have proven to be interesting enough that those who study the process of dreaming have finally broken down and created a specialized section for it. For people like the ones mentioned above, finally having a place to start as far as an explanation was concerned is more of a relief than anything else.

There are many forms of dreaming that have often been likened to the paranormal, if only because no scientific explanation could be found for them. Hypnagogia episodes are the same way. There are some that say that events or sensations that are happening to or around the dreamer are actually the cause of the hallucinations. That would work to explain why such hallucinations could be so diverse and realistic. So, while there are still many unexplained details about hypnagogia episodes, hopefully those who dedicate their lives to studying these types of things will be able to provide more in-depth explanations in the future.

Further Reading:

  1. Astral projection: Out-of-body experience, Near death experience, Soul travel, Soul retrieval, Shamanism, Subtle body, Metaphysics, Esotericism, Hypnagogia, … paralysis, Tattva vision, Teleportation (ISBN 9786130223250): Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, John McBrewster
  2. False awakening: Dream, Dream argument, Wakefulness, DĂ©jĂ  vu, Hallucinations in the sane, Hypnagogia, Lucid dream, Nightmare, Simulated reality, Sleep paralysis, Waking Life, Sleep (ISBN 9786130289065): Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, John McBrewster
  3. Hypnagogia: False awakening, Hag, Hypnic jerk, Lucid dream, Meditation, Nightmare, Segmented sleep, Sleep disorder, Sleep paralysis, Tetris effect, Threshold … Hypnopompic, Yoga Nidra, Dream yoga (ISBN 9786130223335): Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, John McBrewster
  4. Hypnagogia: The Unique State of Consciousness Between Wakefulness and Sleep (ISBN 9780955305214): Andreas Mavromatis
  5. Lucid Dreams: Lucid Dream, Vanilla Sky, Out-Of-Body Experience, Hypnagogia, Waking Life, False Awakening, Open Your Eyes, Allan Hobson (ISBN 9781155460901) LLC
  6. Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions and Visitors of the Night (ISBN 9780984223916): Ryan Hurd
  7. Tetris Effect: Thought, Mental Image, Tetromino, Hallucination, Hypnagogia, Kinesthesis (ISBN 9786130473617): Lambert M. Surhone, Miriam T. Timpledon, Susan F. Marseken
  8. The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream (ISBN 9780465070695): Andrea Rock
  9. The Secret History of Dreaming (ISBN 9781577319016): Robert Moss
  10. Trance: Trance. Consciousness, Self-hypnosis, Hallucinations in the sane, Transpersonal psychology, Hypnosis, Hypnagogia, Meditation, Mysticism, Religious experience (ISBN 9786130051549): Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, John McBrewster
  11. Hypnagogia: The Secrets, Tricks, and Solutions to Transitional Hallucinations

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