Have you ever woken up into a nightmare?
The short form of waking up into nightmares, hypnopompic hallucinations compose a terrifying sensory experience for many and hence, a parasomnia.
The brainchild of Frederick Myers, Hypnopompic hallucination can occur more than once per night and can be a sign of scarier underlying sleep disorders. While sleepers are known to wake up senseless, hypnopompia can also add to sleep issues like lack of deep sleep, insomnia and waking up in the middle of the night. The etymology of Hypnopompia roots from the Greek Word Hypnos or sleep and pompē or sending away.
What are Hypnopompic Hallucinations
Have you ever woken up to a strange person or silhouette sitting next to you in the dark?
Also popular as a nightmarish disorder, hypnopompic hallucinations are rarer than its fraternal somnipathy of hypnogogic hallucinations. Scientific case studies disclose that hypnopompic hallucinations occur in merely 12.5 % people while hypnogogic hallucinations account for a 37%!
Hypopompic hallucinations are a category of sleep disorder where the person wakes up to a sensory hallucination. Spanning from auditory to tactile, olfactory and visual hallucination, the sufferer perceives oddities like the devil sitting next to him or her. Technically, our muscles are under partial paralysis during the dreaming stage. For a person prone to hypnopompic hallucination, waking up occurs adjacently to perceiving nightmares.
Hypnopompic hallucinations are usually short and last up to a few minutes from nanoseconds. These hallucinations occur between the sleeping and waking phase of transition. The person perceives a trance state where he or she notices odd geometric shapes that float around the room akin to when you yawn the dawn!
Types of Hypnopompic Hallucinations
Although hypnopompic hallucinations were thought of as the sign of possessed people a few centuries back, today they are merely odd sensory perceptions during leaking of sleep.
Studies show that absence of a sense tends to stimulate hallucinations of the same sense. For example, a deaf person tends to experience more of auditory hallucination while a blind person bereaving on hallucinatory visual imageries while awakening.
Researches advocate that visual imageries are the result of a set of brain and sleep dysfunctions. Simply put, visual hallucination is a blend of neurotransmission, consciousness, brain makeup and unconscious habits.
The hallucination of touch, tactile hypnopompia is terrifying and traumatic. During the somnipathy, a muscle atonia by REM transition happens where the sleeper feels immovable. Tactile hallucinations are uncommon and tend to occur alongside sleep paralysis.
A minority of hypnopompic patients refer to savoring a familiar or strange taste during the parasomnia. The sensory hallucination of taste is usually the result of familiar foods that the patient has been dreaming about. Rarely, patients also disclose terrifying tastes that occur alongside other types of hypnopompia.
Yet another uncommon hypnopompia is the smell hallucination during waking up. Although olfactory hypnopompia is adjacent to gustatory type, oftentimes, smell is obvious alone too. Unpleasant, nauseating or favorite smells indicate the presence of olfactory hypnopompic hallucinations.
A strange movement type of hypnopompia where people observe neutral hallucinations that are rarely considered terrifying; movement hallucinations are rare in occurrence too. An interesting result of vestibular-motor hallucination is the feeling of being hijacked by aliens or supernatural escapes.
The sleep disorder where gothic musical hallucinations terrify you, auditory hypnopompia is similar to schizophrenic effects. In such a parasomnia, the person hears subtle or strong sounds that terrify or engrosses him or her. Oftentimes, auditory hallucinations are sound alarming, but they also tend to have pleasant effects on people.
Symptoms of Hypnopompic Hallucinations
People suffering from hypnopompic hallucinations are often traumatized by sleep paralysis that precedes it. A nerve-wracking episode to experience, hypnopompic hallucination is a mirror state of Hypnogogic hallucination. The sole difference between the two is that the former occurs when waking up while the latter occurs while falling asleep.
The pivotal difference between hypnopompia from dreams is its lack of story or plot. For every type of hypnopompic hallucination there occurs a specific set of symptoms. Patients also observe intersecting of multiple hypnopompia and in such cases the symptoms will be the cumulative total of both subsets of hypnopompia.
Visual areas of the brain are affected during the hypnopompic state and induce moments of seizure-like reactions in the sleeper. The intensity of hallucinations differs based on the primal visual cortexes involved.
Common imageries that pop up during visual hypnopompia are geometric shapes, shadows, silhouettes, lines, complex figures, people and figurines. These visualizations are a direct effect of the fatigued condition.
The most common symptoms of olfactory hypnopompia are the smell of rotten flesh, garbage, excreta, blood or noxious gases. People tend to smell strongly pleasant or unpleasant odor during the parasomnia.
Sounds such as people, animals, buzzing, music, TV, ambient sounds, Wind, Banging or Screaming inside the head is a paradigm. During the REM transition, trauma is common and patients might wake up with fatigue, irritation, tension or hopelessness.
Patients suffering from tactile hypnopompia complain of the searing pain in muscles after waking up. While the sleeper tries to escape from the semi conscious state, resistance and panic aggravate the hallucination to seem realistic. Examples of tactile hypnopompia are feeling undue pressure on the chest, back or body; odd massaging sensation; pain or body spasms that seem like pricking and tickling sensation.
· Vestibular motor
The hallucination of movement tends to make the person feel like they are flying, jolted, shaking, falling, floating or rocking with or without consent. This is the same type of hallucinations that explain the occurrence of alien abductions in people!
Causes of Hypnopompic Hallucinations
For every person, the impact of lifestyle, circadian rhythm, emotional intelligence, stress, happiness, composure and peace adds to the occurrence of hypnopompic hallucinations. While one may experience hypnopompic sleep disorder as the result of sleeplessness, another might experience it because of depression.
· Brain Activity
Studies show that various changes in our brain can sum to hypnopompic hallucinations. The frontal lobe undergoes depression in hypnopompic patients, which adds to short term memory loss and delay in reflexes. Collectively, the REM stage, seizures and irritated cortex also compute to chronic hynopompia.
In short, even simple yet erratic brain activities can add to hallucinations. These hallucinations can be visual or auditory and tends to induce simple to sophisticated hallucinations in the person. Depending on the intensity of hypnopompia and degree of stimulation, the length of hypnopompic hallucinations differs.
· Drug Abuse
Psychosis induced by drugs can result in the patient having weird dreams and odd confusions. The death of brain cells is the most common symptom of drug abuse in people. The same can result in erratic sleep schedule as well as a high rate of hypnopompic hallucinations per week.
While the neurotransmission of the brain is hindered, consumption of illicit (those not for you) drugs can introduce drowsiness, post which, the sleeper wakes up to a hypnopompic hallucination!
All sleep disorders are directly or indirectly linked with neurotransmission of the brain. Whenever our body and mind begins harmful drugs, sleep cycle is immediately affected. As supplements can result in hallucinatory states and artificially control the effect of drugs, it will also reduce hypnopompia.
In addition, provided the neurotransmitters are improper in processing, hypnopompic hallucinations can occur!
· Structure of your Brain
Brain waves are believed to change during the stage of hypnopompia. Such a parasomnia is turns worse when the brain structure is born with deformities. Visual imageries occur owing to lesions within the brain. It can also lead to erratic sleep and introduction of numerous other somnipathies.
When a person experiences hypnopompia next to waking up, the hallucinations are mild while hypnopompia is severe if it happens during the transition moment of sleep to awakening.
Practicing to be conscious to the slow brain waves or theta waves is the primary definition of meditation. Those that are veterans of mindfulness understand the occurrence of random odd dreams after strong-meditative-days.
In fact, such people are prone to hypnopompic hallucinations and theories advocate that better meditative techniques can regulate a pleasantness during hypnopompia too!
· REM dysfunction
Science reveals that a high-speed REM occurs in patients of hypnopompia besides being partially conscious. The poignant imagery of the dreams is nothing but the inference of high-paced rapid eye movements. Auditory and Tactile sensations also happens during hypnopompia due to REM dysfunction. Sensory deprivation also adds to worsening hypnopompia.
Psychological health or psychodynamics of a person is quintessential to the mental makeup and occurrence of hypnopompia as well. Insomnia is yet another notable cause of the parasomnia.
How to Cope with Hypnopompic Hallucinations
The first step to learning to cope with your somnipathy is by keeping a regular sleep diary. It should comprise of your sleep duration, medicines taken, diet, quality of sleep, occurrence of dreams and miscellaneous other sleep-related observations.
The golden rule to understand a sleep disorder is by accepting it through lucid realization. Emotional vent outs with friends or family can also drastically impact your quality of sleep and reduction of hypnopompia.
When such an episode occurs, remain calm and get a hold of yourself first. Understand that everything is fine and hypnopompia is but a momentary glitch within your body.
Other disorders that occur parallel to Hypnopompic Hallucinations
While some health disorders are underlying causes to hypnopompia, some occur due to the hallucinations. In either case, the hallucinations are a direct or indirect threat to the health of the body.
· Bipolar Disorder
During hypomanic and manic states, people with bipolar behavior disorder suffer from hypnopompia owing to changes in brain activity.
Yet another psychological disorder, schizophrenic patients suffer from the same parasomnia due to dysfunctional dopaminergic neurotransmission, drug use and undue brain activity.
Clinical depression diagnosis involves changes in brain activity and medications that affect brain activity. Hence, these impact the neurotransmitters and lead to perceptual hallucinations during waking up or going to sleep.
· Sleep Paralysis
Hypnopompia is observed to be super natural for patients who simultaneously suffer from sleep paralysis. Outburst of beta waves during the stage of REM stage and sleep terrors also adds to hypnopompia.
Sharing a co-dependent relationship with one another, epilepsy and sleep have a direct bond. Many cast studies of epilepsy patients report undue brain activity during the onset of the disorder.
· Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
History of PTSD is a strong additive for chronic stress and sleep disorders. The hindrance to relax due to aggravated Sympathetic Nervous System and leads to Hypnopompia, Sleep deprivation as well as the lack of deep sleep.
Circadian rhythm issues and anxiety disorder also triggers chronic stress and subsequent increase of hypnopompic hallucinations.
Ways to Treat Hypnopompic Hallucinations
From taking an EEG or electroencephalogram to Polysomnogram there are innumerable ways to detect the somnipathy of hypnopompia and treat to reduce or gradually nullify it.
The secret to curing hypnopompic hallucinations is changing the brain activity with the help of correcting the circadian rhythm, de-stressing, sleep position changes, underlying somnipathies and medical disorders.
One of the most effective ways to reduce hypnopompia is by modifying neurofeedback. You can do so by introducing regulated brainwaves at appropriate times. Furthermore, cutting the use of alcohol, nicotine, excess caffeine and all chemicals are important for effective recovery.
Treating your lack of deep sleep, sleep quality, bedroom ethics and stress is also primal to treating hypnopompic hallucinations naturally. Sleeping in a supine position or on your back aggravates hypnopompic hallucinations and side sleeping is the best cure for the same.
Occurring while awakening into consciousness, hypnopompia perceives an emotional connection with the happenings and leaves a traumatic impact on the person. A brief moment of paralysis can occur, which can induce a traumatic episode in the sufferer. The trick is to compose yourself and realize the ultimate truth that none of it is actually real!
Keeping a healthy diet and pampering yourself through self-love and other relaxation exercises also add to preventing hypnopompic hallucinations. Ultimately, when none of the DIY Hypnopompia treatment works, approach a sleep specialist and follow his or her directions closely!