January 6, 2010

What Causes Hypnopompic Hallucinations?

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic hallucinations are auditory, visual, tactile or of other sensory events. These hallucinations are quite common and they either occur for a brief time or are sometimes prolonged. Hypnagogic hallucinations occur during falling asleep while hypnopompic hallucinations happen during the time of awakening. During both hallucinations, people might see, hear or feel things that are not there. Some of these auditory and visual hallucinations may be strange, disturbing and very vivid. Hypnagogic hallucinations can occur anytime night or day, at the onset of sleep. The visual imagery of these hallucinations are mostly, of parts of object or colored circles that are either changing in size or may be constant. Sometimes, it might also include a formed image of a person or animal in color. Auditory hallucinations on the other hand can be of simple sounds or melodies, however there are people who have also heard criticisms and threats during this sleep hallucination. Another type of Hypnagogic hallucination is the one of feeling, where people experience rubbing, picking, light touching, changes in location of body parts such as an arm or leg, and feelings of levitation like floating above the bed or their body moving in space.

The causes of hypnopompic hallucinations vary from person to person. It could be due to intake of certain medications or drugs, lack of sleep, irregular sleeping habits or narcolepsy. Hypnopompic hallucinations happen when the brain is not able to quickly make a transition from a person’s dreaming state to an awakened one. Sounds and images may get carried, from dreams into the person’s conscious perception. Hypnopompic hallucinations can also be associated with narcolepsy. This is a condition that causes people who suffer from it, extreme daytime sleepiness. Some people with this disorder may fall asleep suddenly, even if they are in middle of eating or talking to someone, and have trouble sleeping at night. Both Hypnopompic and Hypnagogic hallucinations are more common in people who have insomnia. Studies have shown blood flow patterns alter in the brain during sleep and switch back when waking up, this process could also be the reason for people experiencing sleep related hallucinations.

Sleep hallucinations may or may not need medical attention depending on the cause. Since sleep deprivation or insomnia alone can lead to Hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations, people suffering from it could improve their condition by increasing the numbers of sleeping hours and regularizing sleep patterns. Some natural remedies that for these conditions are:

  • Using Herbs: Teas or supplements made from herbs like St. John’s Wort, lemon balm, fennel seeds, peppermint and horsetail act as natural sedatives to help improve sleeping disorders.
  • Drinking Lettuce Juice: Lettuce juice is said to have sleep-enhancing properties. Drinking a glass of it is said to induce sleep.
  • Yoga: Yoga exercises help to relieve stress and help towards a healthy body and mind. Meditation is also very helpful to alleviate some of the symptoms.
  • A Hot Shower or Bath: Taking a bath with essential oils or having a hot shower an hour before going to bed can help in improving sleeping disorders.
  • A Healthy Diet: It is best to avoid heavy, fried and greasy meals before going to bed. Instead opt for a small and nutritious meal, preferably with green leafy vegetables and or boiled or steamed fish and chicken. Your dietary intake should be a well balanced mix of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
  • Music Therapy: Listening to soft and soothing music sometimes helps in improving sleeping conditions. The choice of music should be one that would put one at ease and helps to relieve stress.

In addition to this, consult your physician who will be able to prescribe medication to help treat the condition.


  1. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/nar/