Hypnagogic hallucinations usually occur at the onset of sleep, either during daytime sleep episodes or at night.
It is occasions of seeing and hearing things in sleep. These dreams can be frightening and can often cause a sudden jerk and arousal just before sleep onset.
Hypnagogic hallucinations are dreams that break off on wakefulness, which can cause visual, auditory, or touchable sensations.
They occur between waking and sleeping, usually at the onset of sleep, and can also occur about 30 seconds after a cataleptic attack.
Hypnagogic hallucinations are a feature of narcolepsy. Sleep deprivation, medications, and irregular sleep schedules, all can predispose to happenings of this phenomenon.
Causes Of Hypnagogic Hallucinations
There are several medical and psychiatric causes of hypnagogic hallucinations. Some of the common causes include the following:
Sleep Deprivation And/Or Exhaustion
Physical and emotional tiredness can induce hallucinations by blurring the line between sleep and wakefulness.
Prolonged or extreme stress can impede thought processes and trigger hallucinations.
Meditation And/Or Sensory Deprivation
When the brain lacks external stimulation to form perceptions, it may compensate by referencing the memory and form hallucinatory perceptions. This condition is commonly found in blind and deaf individuals.
Electrical Or Neurochemical Activity In The Brain
A hallucinatory sensation, usually involving touch called an aura, often appears before, and gives warning of, a migraine. Also, auras involving smell and touch (tactile) are known to warn of the onset of an epileptic attack.
Hallucinogenics such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide, or acid), psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine, or mushrooms), ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA), and mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine, or peyote) trigger hallucinations.
Other drugs such as marijuana and PCP have hallucinatory effects. Certain prescription medications may also cause hallucinations. In addition, drug withdrawal may persuade tactile and visual hallucinations, as in an alcoholic suffering from delirium tremens (DTs).
Brain Damage Or Disease
Lesions or injuries to the brain may change brain function and produce hallucinations.
Up to 75% of schizophrenic patients admitted for treatment report hallucinations.
Hypnagogic Hallucinations Treatments
A quick medical evaluation should be sought, if someone starts to hallucinate and is disconnected from reality because many medical conditions that can cause hallucinations may quickly become emergencies. People who are hallucinating may become nervous, paranoid, and frightened and should not be left alone.
With regard to the underlying disorder the hallucinations are treated. Depending on the disorder, treatment may involve anticonvulsant, antidepressant medications, or antipsychotic; brain or ear surgery; psychotherapy; or therapy for drug dependence.
Hallucinations associated to normal sleeping and waking are not a cause for concern.
A psychologist or psychiatrist should treat hallucinations that are symptomatic of a mental illness such as schizophrenia.
Antipsychotic medication such as thioridazine (Mellaril), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), clozapine (Clozaril), haloperidol (Haldol), or risperidone (Risperdal) may be prescribed. In many cases, medications can control chronic hallucinations caused by schizophrenia or some other mental illness.
Psychosocial therapy can be helpful in teaching the patient the coping skills to deal with them, if hallucinations persist. Hallucinations due to sleep deprivation or severe stress generally stop after the cause is removed.