Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown

Have you ever been waking up in the morning and hear the phone ring, then become fully awake and realize you just imagined it? If so, you may have experienced an auditory hypnagogic hallucination.

In August of 2015, Dr. Laurence Knott of the UK wrote:  https://patient.info/doctor/hypnagogic-hallucinations “Hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations are visual, tactile, auditory, or other sensory events, usually brief but occasionally prolonged, that occur at the transition from wakefulness to sleep (hypnagogic) or from sleep to wakefulness (hypnopompic). The phenomenon is thought to have been first described by the Dutch physician Isbrand Van Diemerbroeck in 1664.[1] The person may hear sounds that are not there and see visual hallucinations. These visual and auditory images are very vivid and may be bizarre or disturbing.”

And Wikipedia describe it this way: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnagogia   “Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep in humans: the hypnagogic state of consciousness, during the onset of sleep. Mental phenomena that occur during this “threshold consciousness” phase include lucid thought, lucid dreaming, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.” As you can see, there are several other “conditions” mentioned, that I don’t have the time to explore here.

I love what is sometimes called the “twilight time” as I drift off to sleep, and frequently have little vignettes play out before my (closed) eyes. I have heard seemingly original strains of music that I wish I could write down and remember later. Rather than thinking of it as a medical condition to be “treated”, I often wish they would last longer.

Do you experience any sort of hallucinations upon waking or falling asleep? Or do you have any elaborate daydreams?


22 thoughts on “Hypnagogia”

  1. When I was a kid my biggest secret was the fact I was a–are you prepared to be shocked?–daydreamer! In school my attention would drift from the day’s lesson, and I would be playing fantasy scripts in my mind. While walking alone I would often be talking to myself, telling stories I wanted nobody else to hear. If I spied another kid walking toward me, I’d hustle to the other side of the street to avoid embarrassment and preserve my secret. To the best of my knowledge, this was my special curse, the thing that marked me as hopelessly weird.

    A typical fantasy would have me performing some sort of heroic act, possibly dying. It didn’t occur to me that a kid too shy to talk to other kids was not likely to suddenly be a hero, a boring little Clark Kent becoming Superman in a split second.

    I can give an example. Picture a pair of cops contemplating the crumpled corpse of young Steve lying in the street. Seeing an accident about to happen, he had pushed the cute girl to safety, sacrificing himself to save her.

    Tall cop: “Say what you will about him, Steve was brave.”
    Fat cop: “Too bad he couldn’t save himself, too.”
    Tall cop: “He did a great thing, saving that cute girl.”
    Fat cop: “Too bad he didn’t know this would be his last day on earth.”
    Tall cop: “Yeah, if he’d seen this coming, he would have chosen to wear clean underwear.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is hilarious, Steve – and there may have been many other “closet fantasizers” besides you. Son Joel had a very active imagination, and I would overhear him playing in his room, in audible conversations with multiple voices like that. I don’t know if it carried over to outdoors…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have clients with this. It really disturbs them until they have an explanation.

    I had one episode as a child when I was convinced that there was a tornado coming. It was the washing machine on spin cycle!

    I also remember waking up during a dream when we were tent camping. I dreamed there was a bear sniffing around outside the tent. I woke up in part of the dream cycle and I was temporarily paralyzed, as one is while dreaming, and I was terrified that I couldn’t move.


  3. I’m happy to report that my “Amazing Grace” musical ear syndrome has gone away. It vanished a day or two after Edith’s celebration of life, which also coincided with Hans’ returning from a three week hiatus near Ely. I suspect it was just too quiet in the house while he was gone. My brain must have thought I had gone totally deaf and decided to provide some aural stimulus.

    Upon taking a nap in the afternoon, I’ll sometimes awaken with a jolt having heard the distinct buzzing of our doorbell. If Bernie is barking his fool head off, I’ll know that someone is actually at the front door. If not, I know it’s one of those auditory hallucinations. I’ll also from time to time hear the phone ringing when in fact it isn’t. This usually happens when I’m sitting in the tub enjoying a relaxing soak.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes when I am alone writing or drawing and it’s quiet and I’m drowsy, I’ll hear a word or two spoken, like an excerpt from a conversation, not directed at me but overheard. It’s never anything relevant to what I’m doing or consciously thinking.

    Far from being disturbing, I find it fascinating—that some part of my brain is working in a direction and below the level of which I am aware. What I wonder is if there was a whole unconscious conversation from which a word or two broke through to consciousness or if my unconscious simply manufactured a random word or two in isolation. Somehow, the latter seems less likely to me.

    When I dream, most of the characters in my dreams are not people I know and the things they say are surprising to me and unexpected. Very few of my dreams have anything to do with things from real life. I take this as an indication that my unconscious is populated with individuals of whom I am not consciously aware.

    A visual form of hypnagogia occurs when I’m in that lucid dreaming netherworld just before I fall asleep. With my eyes closed, I see elaborate decorative patterns that appear and fade and are replaced with other patterns. It’s kind of kaleidoscopic, except sometimes the patterns are three dimensional and I can move through them. Since they are just patterns, it’s difficult to ascribe any subconscious meaning to them, but I understand that I can’t summon them. I can only make myself receptive and wait.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I, too, see patterns like those you describe in your last paragraph, Bill, and like you, I find them fascinating. Sometimes they’re in shades of black and white, at other times in vivid colors. I love watching them and have tried to devise a way to remember them, so far without luck; they are ever changing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i asked my genius friends genius mom about this phenomen when i was 13 or so. she was a nurse so her brain worked that way.
        she said it was a result of being knocked out with ether when i was a kid in the 50’s
        she was very matter of fact. i did get knocked out multiple times with ether as a kid so i just said ok and filed it away. now i’m on a blog with a bunch of other old people who experienced ether for tonsils or whatever. i can get it to happen by rubbing my eyes at just the right depth and not stopping or it goes away.
        like a kalaidascope on the inside of my eyelids. feels restful and warm


        1. Different from nitrous oxide. I was knocked out with ether when I had my tonsils removed, and woke up in the middle of the operation only to have the mask slammed back on my face. Awful. I had nightmares for weeks afterwards.

          But honestly, I don’t attribute any on my hallucinations to ether. I recall some from before having my tonsils removed.


  5. Is there a term for sleeping through the alarm clock in the mornings? I mean if there’s a term for hearing music that isn’t there, what’s the term for NOT hearing music that IS there?

    I day dream often.
    And those little vignettes at night – yep, get those too. Not often w/ music. I get ear worms all the time, I just don’t associate them with dreaming.
    Just the other night, I was dreaming of running a spot light for a circus type thing. And I was awoken by the sound of rain and then don’t you HATE that moment when you realize you’ve overslept and the panic that sweeps over you?? Oh it’s terrible. But there also comes a point you’re so late it doesn’t really matter? That’s where we were.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. When I’m falling asleep I sometimes see faces. They look like cartoon characters, with exaggerated expressions. It might be a sort of wild grin, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, or a grimace. It’s possible I get these images because in real life I’m not very good at reading people’s expressions. Perhaps my brain creates expressions that can easily be identified to balance the facial expressions that I see all the time and perceive as rather blank.

    I don’t really see them as real beings, though – it’s like I’m watching them in a movie.


    1. That sounds a little bit creepy to me. How do you take it?
      I like your idea of making their expressions bigger in order to identify.


    2. These kinds of revelations are precious to me. It’s so easy to fall into the conviction that your way of seeing things is the only normal way of seeing them. Our discussions here so often remind me that’s not so.

      For instance, I had real trouble with Steve’s opening report. How could he not realize that everyone, especially all kids, have a rich imagination? I’ve always assumed that other kids and other people have imaginary lives that they don’t share with others, and that I know nothing about. I have never assumed I was odd or weird for projecting myself into roles and personalities that had nothing to do with the reality in which I lived. I have always assumed that I’m no different from most people, but apparently we don’t all think that way. Thanks for reminding me of this, Linda.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, PJ, I have come across kids who have very little imagination, and it makes me sad. I’d like to blame it on TV and screen time, where their minds are filled while they’re in this “passive” state, but I don’t really know.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.