Understanding Sleep Hallucinations - Hypnagogia vs. Hypnopompia
Hypnagogia and hypnopompia are two similar but different disorders used to describe a state of sleep paralysis, where the sufferer feels awake in the mind but paralyzed in the body. Imagine awakening to strange faces and voices without being able to respond or wake up.
Episodes of hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations range from mild to severe and symptoms include a frightening feeling of falling, auditory or visual disturbances and feelings of sheer dread or joy. Patients with intense hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations also report feeling unable to breathe or feeling as though a scary figure is on top of them.
Studies performed in sleep labs show that although patients with both hypnagogia and hypnopompia show brain waves recorded as asleep while the person is awake and aware of his or her surroundings, hypnagogic hallucinations take place in the transition from wakefulness to sleep while hypnopompic hallucinations take place in the transition between sleep and waking.
Sleep scientists believe that both hypnagogia and hypnopompia relate to REM sleep, the stage of sleep when the brain restricts the body from moving by blocking the signals to the body that tell it to move. The brain blocks these signals to the body so that when a person runs in their dream, they will not run in their bed. The most widely accepted theory on these hallucinations is that the brains of the sufferers simply fail to open up that block quickly enough after waking.
Disclaimer: These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult your physician regarding any sleeping disorders.