What are Hypnagogic Hallucinations?

Hypnagogic hallucinations are imagined experiences that appear to be very real. They occur when a person falls asleep, and are often referred to as sleep hallucinations.

They are characteristic of stage one sleep where there is a transition between waking and sleeping. Hypnagogic hallucinations are not the same as nightmares that are terrifying and upsetting visions that happen in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

A hallucination is anything that can be sensed but is not real. A hallucinated smell, taste, vision, or sound is only experienced in a person’s mind and not by others. It is more common in teenagers and young adults, and women experience them more than men.


  • Drugs and excessive alcohol consumption: these can produce hallucinations.
  • Anxiety and insomnia: can be at the root and if may be advisable to speak to someone about how to deal with stress.
  • Narcolepsy may cause hallucinations.

Aside from narcolepsy, hypnagogic hallucinations may be caused by Parkinson’s disease or schizophrenia. Sleepwalking, nightmares, sleep paralysis, and similar experiences are known as parasomnia. Often there is no known cause, but parasomnia can run in families.


These can be images, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, or sounds. Feeling of falling or flying Visual hallucinations.

Other symptoms:person may know that he is awake but still feels sensation, sound, images.

In Hypnogogic hallucinations

A person may feel sure that they have seen or felt something, and this can be frightening or confusing.

When to see a doctor

Hypnagogic hallucinations are not usually a risk to health.

  • Symptoms of narcolepsy.
  • Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Symptoms of schizophrenia.

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