Saturday, December 21, 2013

When Waking Up Becomes the Nightmare: Hypnopompic Hallucinatory Pain

Most of us have had frightening nightmares – someone is chasing after us trying to kill us, or the world is coming to an end. Other disturbing dreams are based on real life anxieties – our partner leaves us, we lose our job, we become homeless. One specific psychiatric condition includes nightmares as part of the diagnosis. Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often have terrible nightmares that relive the traumatic event (Pigeon et al., 2013)

We're always glad to wake up from such nightmares, whether they were of the supernatural or mundane or terrifying variety. "Thank god it was only a dream," we say.

But what if waking up from sleep was the nightmare? Hypnopompic hallucinations are unusual sensory phenomena experienced just before or during awakening. Their better known mirror image, hypnagogic hallucinations, are vivid and frightening episodes of seeing or hearing or feeling phantom sensations while falling asleep (or in early stage 1 sleep). Both are frequently associated with sleep paralysis, the terrifying condition of being half awake but unable to move. This is because the complete muscle atonia typically experienced during REM sleep has oozed into lighter stages of non-REM sleep.

Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations are usually associated with narcolepsy, but 37% of a representative community sample reported frequent hypnagogic hallucinations, and 12.5% reported hypnopompic hallucinations (Ohayon et al., 1996).1 This went well beyond the low incidence of narcolepsy in that population. Both types of hallucinations were more common in those with insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, anxiety disorders, and depression (according to self-report).

Night Terrors 1, by Beth Robinson

Nocturnal Episodes of Pain and Screaming

A new case study in the journal Sleep (Mantoan et al., 2013) reports on the terrifying hypnopompic hallucinations of a 43 year old woman who experiences intense limb pain when waking up, which vanishes within 30 seconds. This is a very unusual manifestation of a non-REM parasomnia, a sleep disorder involving partial arousal during the transition between non-REM and wakefulness. The phenomenology might be best characterized as a night terror.

According to the case report (Mantoan et al., 2013), the patient had...
...a history of nocturnal screaming episodes within 1–2 h of sleep onset from the age of 30 years. Her husband was habitually awoken by his wife screaming loudly, usually flapping either her right or left hand against the bed in a semi-purposeful fashion. Her husband reported that the events were sometimes heralded by an inspiratory sigh, she looked terrified and would not respond to him. The screaming would usually last 5–10 sec, and she would then complain to her husband of intense pain affecting the fingers of either hand or arm and occasionally her legs, with no associated numbness or paraesthesia. She would become fully orientated within 30 sec and would be partially amnesic for the event, but would recall an accompanying sense of “fighting to stay alive” associated with intense panic and often accompanied by fast regular palpitations. Otherwise no dream mentation or visualizations were reported in association with the episodes.

She initially had these episodes monthly, but they increased in frequency to 2-5 times a week with 1-2 episodes per night.
She was unable to identify any triggers for the episodes, and neither she nor her husband considered her to be stressed, anxious, or depressed. There was no history of sleep violence, sleep sex, sleep eating, or any other NREM parasomniac automatisms. 

The authors could not identify any standard physical source for the pain. Thoracic outlet syndrome, cervical radiculopathy, focal nerve entrapment, and median neuropathy (carpal tunnel syndrome) were all ruled out.

Pharmacological treatments were unsuccessful. A low dose (0.5–1 mg) of clonazepam was poorly tolerated (it made her feel depressed) and had no effect on her symptoms. Paroxetine was poorly tolerated (due to sedative effects), and gabapentin was also a complete failure. Trazodone, a sedating antidepressant most often prescribed for insomnia, actually made the symptoms worse.

An MRI ruled out a thalamic or hypothalamic lesion. Sleep EEG revealed sudden arousals from deep sleep, accompanied by looks of pain and/or fear on the patient's face. The episodes were consistent with a NREM parasomnia. In the example below, the patient was shaking her arm – muscle activity (EMG) is shown in the green trace.

adapted from Fig. 1B (Mantoan et al., 2013). EEG showing delta waves of stage 3 sleep before an episode of arousal with shaking of one arm and looks of fear. Channels 1-12 are EEG; channels 13 and 14 are electro-oculogram (EOG) activity; channel 15 is electromyography (EMG); channel 16 is electrocardiogram (ECG); channel 17 is oxygen saturation by pulse oximetry (SpO2).  {click on image for a larger view}

What did the doctors do to help this poor woman? Nothing, it seems. A few more musculoskeletal causes need to be ruled out.

The authors end on a vague note about the possible mechanism(s):
In conclusion, to our knowledge this is the first report of a NREM parasomnia associated with painful paroxysms, for which we postulate the following underlying pathophysiological mechanism: an internal or external stimulus triggers arousal, facilitating the activation of innate motor pattern generators in the brainstem and activating somatosensory cortical areas to produce hypnopompic hallucinatory pain.

So instead of the more typical visual hallucinations, the patient experiences pain hallucinations that originate.... where?? It seems to me that the sleep EEG could be analyzed more thoroughly, beyond merely ruling out seizure occurrence. Perhaps another imaging modality like PET could be tried (PET would be quieter than fMRI and would better tolerate movement). Identifying the neurophysiological correlates of her phantom night terror pain would provide a fascinating glimpse into a highly unusual sensory phenomenon.2

Further Reading

The Phenomenology of Pain During REM Sleep

The Neurophysiology of Pain During REM Sleep


1 The questions asked in the telephone interviews by Ohayon et al. (1996) were:
(a) Do you experience at least twice a week the following perceptions?

(i) the realistic feeling that someone or something is present in the room
(ii) a vivid experience of being caught in a fire
(iii) a vivid experience that you are about to be attacked
(iv) a vivid experience that you are flying through the air
(v) the feeling that you will soon fall into an abyss
(vi) the feeling that shadows or objects are moving and distorting.

(b) Do you experience other types of vivid perceptions?

(c) Can you specify the type of perception?

(i) auditory
(ii) visual
(iii) kinetic (involving movement)
To me, the most surprising part of the survey is that 37% reported these phenomenon at sleep onset twice a week for the past year. This contrasts sharply with only 0.04% reporting symptoms of narcolepsy.

2 I've occasionally felt pain in dreams that vanished upon awakening, but I'm pretty sure the episodes occurred during REM (or another stage of dreaming sleep), because visual narrative content was associated with the episodes. Those experiences were clearly not night terrors, and very different from what was reported in the case study.


Mantoan L, Eriksson SH, Nisbet AP, & Walker MC (2013). Adult-onset NREM parasomnia with hypnopompic hallucinatory pain: a case report. Sleep, 36 (2), 287-90 PMID: 23372277

Ohayon MM, Priest RG, Caulet M, & Guilleminault C (1996). Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations: pathological phenomena? The British journal of psychiatry, 169 (4), 459-67 PMID: 8894197

Pigeon WR, Campbell CE, Possemato K, Ouimette P. (2013). Longitudinal relationships of insomnia, nightmares, and PTSD severity in recent combat veterans. J Psychosom Res. 75:546-50.

The Sleep Paralysis Project

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At October 10, 2014 11:34 PM, Blogger April Minter said...

Hi there. I was reading your blog and found it very interesting. For the past two months or so, I have been waking up suddenly at night (and ONLY at night) and will see random objects on my ceiling. Tonight I had another episode. I saw a wall lamp with a cage on it that looked like something you would have seen in a very old hospital, asylum, or prison. It even lit up and had this eerie glow to my room. I have also seen in the past magazines from different times, faces of different kinds, tables (which was really weird), and various other things. They usually sit in one spot and don't move too much. I never really feel threatened, more curious than anything. And I have never felt pain out of it either. But I have always found it odd.

At October 13, 2014 1:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It happens to me aswell but usually when I wasnt sleeping a lot nights earlier or if I am very stressed (doesnt need to be during specific night, just have hard time at school etc). Its usually like that: I try to sleep but feel ofcourse not tired while when Im up Im tired all days. Then I fade into sleep just to wake up suddenly, usually opening my eyes. It can happen a few tims during one night. I used to see things in ceiling aswell like lasers from disco or once laser made hands sticking out of it. Usually these were static and at first I remember commenting (loud or not, unsure) that its weird, that I see these things in the room. They dissapear, fade away in 1-5 seconds. I get irritaded and turn in bed and try to sleep. It happened that I heard some voice/sound instead, I got scared maybe 25% of times when I have seen or heard weird things. Last night I dreamed and woke up twice seing a rope. I mean all my halucinations dont look real, they look out of place, out of picture, like from a cartoon or game almost. Once it happened to me to wake up with closed eyes and see some image like being in a different place, seeing a bit of picture. It started becoming more real just to start fading after a moment. I never scream but it happens that I comment to my man or that I turn on bed and think he said something so I woke up but he is sleeping. He told me that he had seen me do things in sleep a few times like talk and sit on bed. I woke up myself with hand in the air or once in the middle of a dream stretching my hand in real to a person I dreamed stretched hand to me. I woke up with hand hanging paralyzed in the air and had to put in down with my other hand. This moving in sleep doesnt happen often but hallucinations do happen. Im happy that they are usually objects, not moving, look unreal and dissapear fast...

Aha, I usually get one of my nostrill swullen at night (randomly) so it may be that I got harder to breathe and wake up sometimes. I dont know. Im tired mostly during days. I would go to doctor but they simply ignore people and you got to persuade them that you are reeealy in need of help.

At December 24, 2014 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This happens to me as well. Maybe you are just ascending/awakening faster than other humans.

At January 03, 2015 11:14 AM, Blogger mike sullivan said...

have had night terrors for years. They would always be accompanied by sleep paralysis and the feeling of something demonic or evil in my room. I would be lying in bed unable to move, feeling horrified and sometimes hadj hallucinations. They became more frequent and more intense. I would lie in bed trying desperately to wiggle my arm because I noticed once I was able to move the paralysis would start to fade. First I would be able to move a finger, then my hand, once I could actually move my arm the terror would fade and I could move again. Same with my legs. I would attempt to scream but not out of fear, this was an attempt to have someone notice and wake me up or to regain control myself and end the occurrence. Getting someone to "wake me up" became my goal when this happened. If my girlfriend would shake me I would snap out of it. Over the years it became less terrifying, but then something weird happened! When this stuff happened I was able to walk out if the room and reach someone else so they would wake me up, attempting to scream the whole time. Except when I reached this person I would realize each time that I was still in bed experiencing this. That became the new layer to the night terror. Waking up stuck, feelings of doom, moving towards my "rescuer" to "wake me" and this might happen several times in one dream. Now it has changed again. A few months ago I woke up screaming at the top of lungs. I didn't know I could make that sound. My girlfriend came to me and her face began to melt. This hallucination was so real. She tried to touch me and I kept gingerly slapping her hand away. It felt like this lasted for 30 seconds. I felt like nothing was real for minutes after and it lingered for long after I was up and moving. Since then I have awoken feeling scared and nothing was real several times. Even asking the people around me if this is real if I am here, what's wrong, or what just happened. On one occasion I almost literally sprung to my feet. Just a few nights ago I woke up zcreaming again and my girlfriend changed into all kinds of creatures. She says she tried to talk to me but I only remember her walking in the room and back out which only made it feel more surreal. I remember that I started screaming because I saw her change into different things, but she says she came in because I was screaming. I am sure that's true.
I am a 220lbs 28 year old and I am a calm and collected person but these responses to whatever it is feels purely instinctual as if I don't consider what is scaring me at all. It just happens. I am worried after reading this article. It sounds just like what is happening to me and it sounds like this woman never found answers. Normally I would not bother writing a comment this long or self disclose this much but I need answers and I want others who read this to know incase they gave experienced it too. Sorry for all the spelling errors, i did this from my phone.

At January 06, 2015 8:09 AM, Blogger Bren Zonneveld said...

you are obviously not the only one mike

At January 09, 2015 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have similar to you, Mike. I only get sleep paralysis after stress or little sleep, when I am out of a routine. It seems connected with having problems to breath. So that my body desperately tries to wake me up to make me breath. But since the paralysis is still on, it might not be so easy. And then the dream-state, which is REM, comes into a negative mode. And more "live like" since you are half awake.
Maybe it is the sleep disorder apnea. If you smoke, I suggest you to quit. Drink - then drink less. And if you are over-weight then to get out moving :-)
I almost never have this problem anymore after I quit smoking. But recently after drinking and experiencing a shocking episode in my private life, I was dreaming about deamons attacking me. Shadows that entrered my room and was talking in a foreign language in a whispering, alarming voice. A few years ago when I was on holiday in Spain and had been drinking/smoking and had little sleep, an ugly deamon came flying through my window and laid down beside me in the bed trying to tape me (I am a woman, 34 yrs). I tried to blow my breath at him as that would make him go away..hehe..But it was really scary! Another time I have heard my mobile ring into various different phone tones and light up. At the same time I heard my fathers voice talking, saying the same over and over. Tipical hallucinations! When I sleep with my boyfriend, I also try to make him wake me up. But all in all, since I have had so little problem with this outside of stressful situations, stopped smoking and so on. I dont worry too much. I will now focus on drinking less/or nothing and train more. Believe this is the remedy. Get a routine. If you still have problems after doing this, I suggest you to ask your doctor to get checked for apnea.

At January 20, 2015 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has been a fairly normal occurrence for me ever since I was a toddler, so I'm used to it by now. It happens most nights, but sometimes I'm lucky and I can get in a few nights without experiencing anything.

To elaborate, the most common thing I experience is waking up and seeing spiders, whether on the ceiling, on the wall next to my bed, or a swarm of them running at me from the other side of the room. Sometimes they are big, sometimes small.
Last night, I woke up and saw something sitting on me and I couldn't get up for a few seconds. I also heard someone on the floor ask for a blanket, so I gave them one of mine, then fully woke up and realized what I was doing.

When I was a kid, I saw spiders, murderers, the room being on fire, for a while after 9/11 I would see planes crashing, etc. And they always end with me heading towards something I see as safe; when I was a kid, I would run into the bathroom and lock the door. Now I make a run for the light.

I don't really know what triggers it. I can usually tell if I will have a bad night if I wake up and see things, because usually it happens five-six times per night, and then it happens every night... and then just stops.

I have extremely vivid dreams anyways and I recall 6-8 dreams per night and have an easy time going lucid (naturally), so I always figured that my brain is very hyperactive during sleep and my body wakes up before my brain does, causing the hallucinations.

At January 21, 2015 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps another angle you folks may want to explore is what you do in your private life. Has any of you engaged in any form of spiritism/witchcraft? That would include palm reading, fortune telling, consulting a medium etc etc. The bible speaks of angels that became rebellious and became demons. Typically when they get access to humans via spiritistic practices they are also capable of causing nightmares, hallucinations, victims will sense an evil presence in the room, some are sexually assaulted, strangled and the like. Getting rid of anything connected to spiritism will lead to some relief. Acts 19:19.

At January 30, 2015 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So interesting that the article mentions spiders and some have mentioned seeing spiders in their comments....
I have been experiencing hallucinations on wake up when I think I am fully conscious. Most of the time it's been spiders crawling from the wall into my bed. I don't like spiders (to put it mildly) so that vision typically gets me to jump off my bed, get my husband up and off the bed and get the blankets and pillows off as well. Takes me good few minutes to realize that it wasn't real.
Last night it changed. I saw a spider on the wall but managed to convince myself that it was not scary and just moved my pillow away from it. But as soon as I turned in my bed, I saw another hallucination which was a toy RC helicopter flying around the bedroom. I woke my husband up and told him to "look at the plastic helicopter" which of course wasn't there. I remember the conversation vividly and it feels to me that I can think very clearly during the hallucination.
I find these incidents quite curious and I would love to know the mechanism behind it. So far I have been unable to pinpoint any specific reasons for hallucination or to predict when they would happen. I seem to be having them more often lately, like a few times a months.
At least it's re-assuring to know I am not the only one. Hopefully that also means I am not crazy :)

At February 18, 2015 11:16 PM, Blogger JenHolder said...

My 7-year old daughter began experiencing what I believe are hypnopompic hallucinations within the past 3 months. It is utterly terrifying to observe. Frankly, I feel like I am witness to a bad LSD trip by a small, helpless, terrified child. It occurs only (so far) during waking from sleep. It has happened in the middle of the night. It has happened in the middle of the day. It has happened - noticeably - twice while she was ill and running a fever. That said, it has happened while she was perfectly healthy and well-rested. She experiences visual hallucinations as well as auditory. She reaches out, tearfully, as if trying to touch her environment to make it more tangible or perhaps to physically stop it from reaching her.
During these episodes, her emotions have ranged from hysterical joy and laughter to fear...the interesting characteristic of her fear is consistently of an empathetic nature. For example, she recently told me to please back away because she didn't want to attack me on purpose. This was a tearful and worried statement. She is a naturally kind and gentle child. She is highly attuned to the emotions of others, and it seemed that she was almost afraid of herself; that she might harm me despite my size and perceived power as her mother. I admit, I resorted to approaching her like a wounded animal; I averted my eyes, spoke slowly, and even kneeled in order to make myself smaller and less threatening. Throughout it all, she fluctuated between terror of her surroundings (she saw curtains move and walls shift and she heard people shouting and banging things as well as music) and worry for my own well-being. She wanted me to stay so she would feel safe, but she made several comments about wanting me to leave to save myself.
She remembers every bit of it later and will reluctantly talk about it, but not for long.
Her grandmother has narcolepsy and her father was a lite-childhood bed-wetter and continues to sleepwalk, especially if exhausted or even mildly intoxicated. I am a lucid dreamer, myself, and have been told I talk fluently in my sleep, though I have no recollection.
I don't know if this is a sign of an underlying psychological issue (she is otherwise healthy and happy and has no developmental or cognitive delays) or if this is perhaps genetic, considering sleep disorders and/or abnormalities on both maternal and paternal sides.
I remain calm and prevent excess stimulation. I should mention that she has always seemed to process stimuli (visual, auditory, and tactile) a bit more extremely than other children. But frankly, I am struggling with this because I feel like I am watching someone I love more than anything being mentally and emotionally tortured, and I am helpless to prevent it or stop it.
I would appreciate any advice or insight you can provide. I want to take her to see a specialist, but her pediatrician dismissed it quickly and abruptly, stating that "night terrors and nightmares are common in children her age."
Based on what I have read, her episodes do not meet the criteria for either. They go far beyond bad dreams and waking with screams.
These episodes are the stuff of horror films.
But I feel like even describing them here makes me (or her) sound insane.
I would greatly value and appreciate any guidance and support I receive.

At March 05, 2015 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You may want to contact a counselor for your daughter. It sounds like night terrors, and while she may outgrow them, it could also be an indication of some underlying issue. For instance, bullying at school or stress over friendships. It is very hard to tell, but it wouldn't hurt to get a psychologist or two (for second opinion) to evaluate her.

I have had vivid nightmares since I was a small child, I often think intruders are in the house or the room and even as an adult sometimes I am scared to sleep.

Hopefully, your daughter will outgrow the terrors and have a lifetime of peaceful sleep. Still, I would recommend medical and psychiatric evaluations.

At March 11, 2015 4:33 PM, Blogger Krista Zimmerman-Schriver said...

Damn. I wrote out like a page and a half reply to Jen and didn't copy it before I submitted and now it's gone.

I wrote about my story and how I am very similar to Jen's daughter. I'm not in my late twenties, married and have found some work around.
I used to get night terrors, as I call them, 2-6 times a week, especially in my teens. Sleep became my worst enemy and no one had heard of what I had. My mom was convinced I was haunted or something. It was very hard to find any resources even with the Internet and I felt really alone and embarrassed and terrified.
I wanted to give Jen advice. He report spoke to me because I was a very empathetic child who was really reluctant to talk about the content of my nightmares. Talking about the content only made it more real feel r me. If I was to make one suggestion it'd be for you to talk to her but about the science. Let her learn about the different aspects of this, tell her that it is hallucinations and just in her mind. It sounds like that might make her feel crazy but knowing that it was hallucinations was the best piece of info I got. It was out of my control. It wasn't my fault. Talk to her about that. Who knows, maybe she'll because a sleep pathologist or a nuerobiologist and help us All. I wish someone had told me. My mom has so many stories of me waking up screaming and telling her to run when I was little.
Also, stress is a massive factor for me. If I allow myself to go to bed feeling stressed or afraid (e.g. I just watched Hannibal or I have a big project at work I'm worried about) I am 100% guaranteed to wake my husband up with flailing before i can get a lamp on and remember that it's just chemicals in my brain.
I try to not let myself go to sleep feeling anything but the warm and fuzzies. I read cheesey romance novels before bed and having my husband in bed with me always helps because I have that peaceful, safe feeling before I sleep.
Being afraid of sleep is this disease's best friend, I think. So talk to your daughter and make sure she knows it's not her fault, it's not real and create a bed time ritual to get her into a positive, safe place before sleep.
I am happy to tell you I get 1-2 night terrors a month now because of this and it's almost always because I'm over-tired, stressed or fearful. The issues can definitely be managed.

At March 19, 2015 7:23 AM, Blogger travelon said...

I have had this happening to me since I was a teen. They don't happen often...maybe 4 or 5 times a year. Some times a cluster of nights and then nothing for weeks or maybe months. Mostly I hear things like some is waling down the hall or opening the door when I knew it was locked. The first one I saw a family friend standing over me...I had been napping during the day on the living room floor laying on my back. Since then I have gotten used to them and they don't frighten me like they used to. I have to really concentrate and jerk by head to come out of it. And then I need to get fully awake...or it will come back. Some time I get out of bed and that's usually enough to wake me and then I'm fine the rest of the night. I've only had 2 episode of hallucinations. And only 2 that were during the day while taking a nap. All other have been at night and I hear odd things...I'm surprised to find out that this is common. I've never determined if they are triggered by any unusual happening in my life. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for me.

At March 22, 2015 10:07 AM, Anonymous Jenny said...

I found this article because last night similar to other nights I've had in the past, I woke up in my bedroom. I could see that everything was the same from peripheral vision as it had been when I was asleep only there was a man (mostly just silhouette) sitting on top of me with his arms reaching toward me. I had a horrible sense of ill-intent exuding from him. It was so real because I was in my bedroom. The ceiling fan was on. I screamed bloody murder and my husband reached over to wake me. I grabbed his arm in a death grip for some reason and wouldn't let go. I was shaking and my heart was racing. The man was gone but I had a hard time believing he hadn't been there because I had felt him sitting on my and still had a warm feeling where he had "been". The adrenaline and intese terror kept me up for hours and I kept expecting a man to be standing next to the bed if I opened my eyes. I have social anxiety and maybe this was triggered by a wedding I had to attend and the stress that went with trying to blend in as a semi-normal person. >.< I hope this doesn't happen again.

At April 05, 2015 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad I found this article. I've had occasional sleep paralysis, which never really bothered me. In the last few weeks I've been under stress, and had hypnopompic hallucinations a couple of times. Initially, I was taken aback, as although I had just awoken, I was sitting up in bed and definitely 100% awake, but still seeing the hallucination which then faded out slowly. After finding out what they were I wasn't too worried and put it down to being stressed - but then I read the piece on which said that if you don't have narcolepsy (which I don't) that hypnopompic hallucinations are a symptom of psychosis and schizophrenia!! That DID freak me out, so I was VERY glad to read this article, and the part about the hypnopompic statistics. My hallucinations are usually just of a spider crawling, nothing scary, but it's still a little weird to be totally awake/moving and sitting up and see something photographically real (I only realised it wasn't when it crawled off the bed and into empty air and faded out.)

At April 05, 2015 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Perhaps another angle you folks may want to explore is what you do in your private life. Has any of you engaged in any form of spiritism/witchcraft? Acts 19:19." Yeah, and epilepsy means you're possessed by the devil! Honestly, why even publish such an inane and idiotic comment.

At April 21, 2015 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have sleep paralysis and the hallucinations became worse after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I am not currently psychotic, but the stress from what happened has probably made my condition worse. I have felt dark creatures next to me in bed, heard my sister calling for me knowing she doesn't live with me etc. It's frightening but not as frightening as being psychotic (when you lose touch with reality for a longer amount of time-for me, over five weeks).

At May 28, 2015 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I remember as a child around 10 years old having feelings of something sitting on the end of my bed and I would just lie there eyes peeled and at other times with the covers over my head too scared to check. At other times growing up I would have a feeling of things getting big and then small. I take medication for depression and anxiety, and changed medications a year ago. During the transition and occasionally since about once a week I would feel like I woke up and would be surrounded in the dark by spider webs, like the whole room was filled in with webs. Last year in December I had a visual waking hallucination, and the second it started, it was like someone turned a tv screen on in the dark and instantly a man's fist was throwing a punch at my head. There was no pain, it didn't actually connect. This one happened twice, one month apart and always i woke up straight away. But for a second it felt like I had already woken up until after the hallucination had ended. 5 seconds of intense fright, then I could shake it off once awake. I have only had one more in the last 3 months, of a woman walking menacingly past my window. It followed a conversation that week with someone who had had a run in with a troublesome woman in reality. I have terrible sleeping cycles, tend to get insomnia and sleep during the day, and have had sleep apnoea for years.

At August 18, 2015 6:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been having these since 2004, when I came back from Iraq. Started with seeing a shadow floating around every now and then, but over the past 11 years happens anywhere from 2 to 5 times a night in different severity. I was prescribed Prazosin, which seems to be 50/50, but I still wake up sometimes. I don't have the paralysis feeling though. Normally when I see something I jump out of bed and either try to attack it or run from it (fight or flight). Last night it was a large tree figure (more demon like) that had me bolt out of the room into the kitchen. I've seen witches, bats, shadows, people pointing guns at me, but the worst is when I do it and don't remember it. It has affected my wifes sleep just as much, and most of the time she can calm me down back to sleep. I was thinking of video taping a months worth just to have proof, but I am stuck at finding a solution. I usually get 6 to 5 hours of sleep a night, but with constant interruptions. I feel sorry for anyone else going through this, as I don't even remember what a good nights sleep feels like as I'm sure neither do you.

At August 31, 2015 6:27 PM, Blogger grace wilson said...

when i read the comments about people seeing spiders, it reminded me of my brother.... so back when we used to live in Africa my brother was about 5 and one morning he woke up and he was screaming and running around like he was crazy my mum kept trying to stop him from screaming because it was in the early morning and the whole neighbor hood was coming and i guess my mum didn't want people to think that my brother was a mad man, but he kept on running around and screaming and saying spider, spider webs(in my language) since my mum could not stop him running some men came and tried to stop him but my brother run off and he was running so fast that they couldn't catch him. so long story short they caught him and my mum took him to the hospital when they came back he was better.but then in the night again he started to scream and then my mum told him off and he just stopped. in the morning he was screaming my told him off again then he stopped. so this did not happen again until in 2007 we arrived in Australia and our visit night in the middle of the night he started to scream for a short while but he stopped him self and it never happened again.

At September 20, 2015 5:55 AM, Blogger Anton Mraz said...

I've experienced these hallucinations after an operation when I was medicated with pain killers a few years ago. It was crazy, every time I dozed off and then awoke again, there were huge spiders climbing down the wall and snakes on the floor. They were soooooo vivid it was scary. They went away a few seconds after opening my eyes. But now several years later I experienced waking to objects in my room, such as a large dream catcher, an old woman, etc. etc. I did have caffeine tea right before bed and i'm hoping this was the cause. If anyone out there is experiencing this and learned to take control of it, please let me know. :)

At October 05, 2015 9:50 AM, Blogger said...

I have had these visions for years and they are alway horrible and induce panic mostly mild panic but on one occasion it was extream and scared the life out of me.
For years I would wake up to see a spider crawling up the wall next to my head, at first I used to jump up and turn the light on wake my husband in the midst of pulling all the covers off the bed, eventually after about 4 minutes I would realise that there was no spider and I had imagined it. This happened more and more frequently and I started to get used to it, to the point where I would wake up and sit staring at the spider for a minute and think to myself "it isn't real and will disappear in a minute".
But they didn't disappear so eventually I would jump out the bed turn the light on and leave the room, go wash my hands in cold water in the bathroom and then return to my lighted room confirm everything was fine and go back to bed. Just to note by this point my husband is so used to it he just pulled the pillow over his head and rolled over until the light goes back out.

I managed to stop the spider from appearing but not sure that was for the best....... What I did was before I would fall asleep I would say to myself that if I awake and see a spider to confirm it is not real it will be wearing a pink bow on its head. Well I did wake to see a spider but this time it was obviously not real and it almost made me laugh, it did not have a pink bow ( maybe a step to far ) but it was fluffy and had glittery sparkling fluff like a pompom and was very girly and it run away from me rather than towards me.

So I thought great problem solved and it was for the seeing a spider never seen one since and I have only woke up to see anything twice since then a year ago. Unfortunately these two occasions were the most terrifing experiences I have had. The first time I woke to see a old lady sitting in my bed looking at me ( I think someone else mentioned spiders and an old lady ) I jumped out of bed and started thinking this isn't real, then she reached out to touch me and I screamed a blood curdling scream and run to the other side of the room, not taking my eyes off her, then I heard my husband scream and I run from the room into the hall waited a second then run in to the bathroom and shut the door. At this point everything returned to normal and I could hear my husband calling me asking what's happening.
I couldn't sleep in my room for a week.

The second time I woke and thought my husband was attacking me but he was asleep and awoke to me telling him to stop and get off, this time him shouting at me to stop.
It hasn't happened for about 6 months now but I can feel if I'm slipping into a lucid state and I wake myself back up and listen to the radio. I found reading made it more frequent as my brain would drift off and be in a more active state at the point of slipping onto sleep. I have very lucid dreams still and know I'm dreaming and can control them to a certain extent.
It's good to know I'm not the only one.

At October 26, 2015 12:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the last 5 years I occasionally awake to the same 3 people standing in my room in various places they don't say anything they don't move they just stare occasionally its only one or two but its always in the early morning i can move i kick out and yell for them to leave they just stare then ill turn on a light and they are gone does this seem like hypopomic to you? Please let me know it freaks me out every time.

At November 05, 2015 7:40 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

Been having them for 20 years now. Seen the demons, spiders (hate those), floating heads etc, inanimate objects just floating around, the ceiling completely crashing in, heck last night the ceiling appeared futuristic/mechanical style and a 1m square eery thing just very slowly hovers over to the corner and slots up in, it was even omitting an orange light from the middle. These days I just watch, most times calmly, trying to assess it from a third person perspective (if that makes sense). I went through many years of jumping up and attacking the things I saw (Dragonball Z influence), still very occasionally do. But after I hit them reality comes back and the setting fades away but quite slowly.
Honestly I experience none of those causes that are supposed to lead to this problem, none. I'm very healthy, eat right, exercise, take no pills, don't drink or smoke and get at least 8 hours sleep a night. Also contrary to what many of these articles say I don't freak out when it happens. Initial fear is always there but it's more intrigue mostly. I even ask my wife laying next to me if she can see whats going on. She gets angry at me waking her up - AND YES WE ARE TALKING TO EACH OTHER CALMLY DURING THE "NIGHT TERROR" - ONCEMORE CONTRADICTING WHAT THE 'EXPERTS' REPORT. i'm 38 and it happens almost every night, in fact I've grown suspicious of it and want to go deeper. Longest I've managed is around 30 seconds. I want more, none of it shocks me anymore, it actually more pisses me off these days. I want controll over it or at least to interact more productively with it for longer. Sometimes I raise up carefully and try to catch whatever it is, but very carefully, I got it once but the dam setting faded off before I could observe better. Anyone feeling me on this???

P.S to the one poster who spoke of witchcraft, fortune telling etc - I'm into none of that and already believe on Jesus as Lord and saviour. Though some of these people may be experiencing "the discerning of Spirits" as written in the Corinthians gifts.

At November 16, 2015 12:38 AM, Blogger myrmayde said...

I've seen imaginary spiders upon waking up all of my life (once in a while, not all the time). I wear glasses, so when I wake up my vision is blurry and the "spiders" are blurry dark blobs that I just assumed were spiders I couldn't see clearly. They always ran away as soon as I saw them and faded away in a few seconds. I realized that they weren't real one time when the hallucination was of an intricate mandala-like object up by the ceiling. It looked kind of like a chandelier covered in many colored hanging crystals. After I knew that the spiders weren't real, I also realized that their motion was always in the same direction as my eye motion. Now I know that I have a tendency to see radially symmetrical geometric shapes in the center of my field of vision when I wake up, and that they appear to move when my eyes move. I had interpreted them as spiders because that would make the most sense if they were real. But I had never seen them clearly and distinctly and motionless, just fleeting little fuzzy blobs. It used to scare me a lot, because I have a bit of a phobia about most bugs. Now I usually remember that it's a hallucination pretty quickly and don't get scared. I'm glad I haven't seen the terrifying images that some people have.


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