The short space of time before we fall asleep is a strange one; it’s the time when we’re not quite in the world of the waking and not quite in the world of slumber…it’s the twilight zone if you like…that short window when nothing is quite concrete. Technically, this period of time is called “the hypnagogic state” and for those of us who experience the strange and confusing state, it can be extremely unsettling.
Some people report seeing realistic visions of people, disembodied faces, strange lights and geometric forms as well as hearing voices, music or even technological sounding “beeps” and tones. Others might seem to experience strange insights or upsetting emotions as well as feeling as though they are being hunted or pursued.
For those people who do suffer from this uncommon condition, it can be very distressing and some people dread falling asleep because their visions are so startling. While research into Hypnagogia is ongoing, scientists believe that experiencing it is just the mind’s way of getting rid of the day’s thoughts and feelings and that some patterns of behaviours can exacerbate it.
Drinking alcohol or taking drugs can make the condition much worse as can lack of sleep or general stress. Some sufferers report a lessening of symptoms once they learn what the condition is called and discover that far from being a paranormal event, it’s simply a neurological reaction to a variety of stimuli.
If you have ever woken up in a confused and frightened state due to thinking you can see, hear, sense or feel things which patently cannot be there, it is worth looking at Hypnagogia as the cause. Suffering from Hypnagogia interrupts sleep patterns and can result in extreme exhaustion as people try to avoid sleep or to help themselves sleep through alcohol and other means which ultimately worsen the condition.
Ways to lessen the symptoms of Hypnagogia
Firstly, stop drinking alcohol because drink can make the symptoms much worse as well as bring them on in the first place! Secondly, try to get a good sleep routine which does not vary from day to day. Choose a suitable time to go to bed and do not deviate from it. If you are suffering from stress in your day to day life, don’t underestimate how much this can worsen the symptoms of Hypnagogia and think about taking some regular exercise which is a proven way to help yourself de-stress and learn to relax.
Finally, keep your bedroom tidy and clutter free; avoid the mess and confusion which can add to the issues of seeing things which aren’t really there! A tidy room which is well organised is a good environment for sleeping in…a cluttered and untidy one is not!
If your symptoms do not ease with the above actions, see your doctor. It may be that you would be best advised to visit a sleep clinic where you can be observed sleeping and specialists can then advise you on the best course of action.