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In the stillness of the night a noise breaks the silence. The heat and the burden of the night awakens you and along with that noise you uncover, discolored and somewhat confused, seeing the complete darkness. And in the midst of the darkness, in the midst of the silence of the night a humanoid figure watches you, also in complete silence, from the foot of your bed…
This scene is recognizable, with its nuances, by many people who have suffered such visits at night. This situation that can so much terrify (and with reason) is part of our folklore of the mystery and also forms part of one of the repertoires of the disinformation in the world of the mystery in general.
There are few things that are more frightening than waking up and finding a figure at the foot of the bed that is watching us, in silence, not knowing from what moment he is there and not knowing what his intentions are: Will it be a thief that has sneaked home ? Perhaps a disturbed one who watches us from go to know when? A being that is not part of our plan? A demon? There is a long list of questions that can assault us on this issue and more when we are living it. Those seconds that we pass seeing that figure become long and many thoughts approach us, but then we realize that in a matter of seconds (very soon a minute) this figure disappears or vanishes before our eyes. That is not usually a consolation … Since seeing as a humanoid figure disappears without leaving a single trace in a matter of few seconds makes us reflect on the strange nature of that figure and all the questions made before only a few remain present: A spirit? A demon? A being of the low astral?
Classic Interpretation of a Bedroom Visitor
To which we are most afraid: A living or a dead? It will depend on the person. Let us suppose that we are more afraid of what we do not understand, and therefore we deduce that we are more afraid of a dead person than of a living being (in this case hypothetical). The situation is complicated because, if it is a dead person, this can appear when we least expect it and terrify us for a long time …
But what if he were not dead?
A failure in the system
If he is not dead, what can he be? To answer that question we have to know a little our own self, not at the level of philosophy, but if at the level of psychology. Go for it.
Broadly, our mind (speaking as functional brain mass as mind) works with frequencies, these are called brain frequencies. These are divided into several groups depending on the state in which we are. For example, when we are working we are in a cerebral rhythm in which the frequencies that activate the rhythm of stress are given more. While when we are watching TV at night we are in a more relaxed state and therefore the brain is allowed to work at a calmer pace.
When we go to sleep, the brain goes into deeper states of relaxation, reaching altered states of consciousness, where the mind works otherwise leaving the subconscious to work. In that period of time in which the brain passes from conscious to subconscious small errors can occur during that process. These events are called hypnagogic hallucinations (when you go from watch to sleep) or hypnopompic (when you move from sleep to watch). The phenomenon was coined by Frederic Myers, a researcher in the 1800s. During these processes, the person can hear sounds that are not there, have visual hallucinations, notice non-existent presences or even notice that they touch it. These hallucinations are often very vivid. As a curiosity, the blind and / or deaf can also have this type of hallucination, since, as it is a hallucination, its genesis is not outside the subject but in his own mind, giving cases where the blind “see” a figure or Deaf “hear” a voice.
The hypnagogic or hypnopompic phenomenon is related to sleep paralysis, being also one of the dysfunctions or small errors that the mind commits in our body. It is known that at least once in the life suffers of hypnagogic or hypnopompic process, although in the hypnopompic case (from dream to wakefulness) the subject does not usually remember the experience; Going exactly the other way around in the hypnagogic process (from waking to dreaming). In the case of remembering or, rather, living at that moment a hypnopompic hallucination, the subject may enter into a state of terror accompanied by sleep paralysis, provided that the hallucination obtained lends itself to being remembered as a non-benevolent hallucination.
One of the most interesting data is that approximately 6.6% of the general population (referring to the general population of people who do not suffer from sleep disorders such as narcolepsy) may have hypnopompic or hypnagogic hallucinations for an extended period of time . Such hallucinations can range from basic forms such as geometric forms to complex forms such as people. Hallucinations can also occur such as feeling floating and even pleasant sensations. Of course, each person will have their own experience in that hallucinogenic state since the hallucination itself can be a result of both the anatomy of the brain, its neurochemistry and the material (experiences) accumulated in the subconscious.
What causes hallucination?
The causes of hallucinations (in this case we will focus on the hypnopompicas) are generally subject to significant individual variations. In other words, a person may experience them as a result of a sleep disorder, while another may experience them as a result of ingestion of a psychoactive drug before falling asleep (are two examples of many possible). In addition, hallucination (as I mentioned earlier) may be related to the subconscious material and to its psychological state at that time.
In broad outline, these are the possible causes that could generate these hallucinations:
Activation of the brain: There is evidence that regional brain activation or deactivation of particular regions may be responsible for the generation of hypnopompic hallucinations. Activation of certain regions as a result of REM activity, similar seizure activity, or cerebral cortex irritation was also thought to trigger these hallucinations.
Research has shown that direct brain stimulation of certain regions can lead to hallucinations (ex, using direct transcranial electro stimulation systems), even to those who have never had an earlier hallucinatory experience. Interestingly, if visual centers are stimulated, simple or complex visual hallucinatory experiences can be created; On the other hand, if the auditory centers are stimulated a person can hear voices or other sounds.
The Brain Structure: People with structural brain abnormalities may be more prone to hallucinations, particularly those that are visual. The structure may have an abnormality from birth, or it may be an abnormality as a result of a serious brain injury. In many cases it has been found that injuries to certain lobes of the brain can cause sleep disorders and sleep-related hallucinations.
Brain waves: brain waves are thought to be altered during hypnapromic hallucinations. The brain wave pattern may include a combination of theta waves and / or alpha waves, along with intermittent bursts of beta waves.
Meditation: People who have a lot of experience in practicing meditation can report sensory experiences about sleep-watch transitions.
This is due to the fact that meditation changes the brain over time, generating an improvement in its functioning. Most existing types of meditation allow individuals to remain conscious during the onset of slow brain waves (alpha and theta).
Someone who has been meditating for a long period of time may remain semi or fully conscious during the transient phase from wakefulness to sleep and be aware of any hallucinations that may occur upon commencing REM. It should be noted that different types of meditation can affect the brain in a unique way, that is, may induce an improvement of hypnopompic hallucinations.
Neurotransmission: It is important to take into account the role of neurotransmission in the appearance of such hallucinations. When we increase artificially (as a result of taking medications, for example) several neurotransmitters, these are capable of affecting sleep and / or causing hallucinations. For example, increasing levels of serotonin may be known to affect sleep. In addition, increased levels of dopamine could lead to hallucinations.
The receptor densities for neurotransmitters may also play an important role in generating hallucinations. If certain neurotransmitters are not properly processed by receptors (eg, dopamine receptor polymorphisms) can lead to the manifestation of hallucinations, some of them could occur during a hypnopompic state.
Pharmaceuticals: There is substantial evidence to support the idea that certain drugs, particularly those that influence neurotransmission, may cause hallucinations. A report published in 2000 documents cases of individuals experiencing hypnopomic hallucinations following the administration of Donepezil, a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms. The drug acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which increases acetylcholine concentrations in the effort to improve cognitive function. Unfortunately, this mechanism alters REM and increases the likelihood of hallucinations. Older reports (from the 1980s) reported subjects with hypnotic hallucinations among those taking tricyclic antidepressants.
Amitriptyline was thought to alter sleep patterns and most patients taking this medication are able to realize that hallucination is non-psychotic.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11106313
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7468295
Psychodynamics: It is speculated that during a hypnopompic process the unconscious or subconscious material can be revealed to the conscious, which can contribute to hallucinations. There are those who speculate that hallucinations are the result of repetitive conscious material. Finally there is the theory that relates psychodynamics to a combination of conscious and subconscious and that causes hallucinations.
REM activity: It is possible that during REM activation there are peaks of activity in certain regions of the brain and these trigger hallucinations. In the hypnopompic state it is believed that people may be experiencing some activity of rapid eye movement while at the same time being semi-conscious. During the REM state, people can report very vivid images, which could be induced as a direct result of rapid eye movement. REM imaging may remain temporarily, making it the most common type of hypnopompic hallucination.
Conditions associated with hypnopompic hallucinations
There are many conditions associated with hypnopompic hallucinations. In some cases, conditions may be a cause that contributes directly to such hallucinations, while in other cases these conditions may indirectly contribute to hallucinatory experiences.
Anxiety Disorders: Subjects suffering from frightening hallucinations are believed to have anxiety disorders. Studies suggest that individuals with anxiety may be at increased risk of experiencing “sleep paralysis”, which is characterized by the inability to move during a semi-conscious REM condition. Since sleep paralysis is commonly associated with hypnopompic hallucinations, and anxiety disorders are associated with sleep paralysis, it makes sense that anxiety may increase the likelihood of having hypnopompic hallucinations.
The exact mechanisms by which anxiety triggers these hallucinations may be unknown; But it is estimated that it could be a result of neurochemical concentrations, poor sleep quality and as a consequence of anxiety or over-activation of fear centers (eg, the amygdala).
Bipolar Disorder: People with bipolar disorder may be prone to hallucinations during the hypnotic state. Bipolar disorder is characterized by elevated moods (may be positive or negative), but also by decreased sleep and increased concentrations of several neurotransmitters such as dopamine. It may be thought that people with bipolar disorder may experience such hallucinations during hypnopompic states as a result of impaired brain activation.
Stress: People with abnormally high levels of stress often report sleep problems. Chronic stress can lead to insomnia, which can lead to a reduction in the amount and quality of sleep. Over time, the entire circadian rhythm (also called biological rhythm) is altered and problems with the sleep cycle are exacerbated.
If, for example, we enter into a state of nervous crisis (which can be defined as a constant state of struggle or flight) our sympathetic nervous system will have altered and with it its neurochemistry. That is, our neurotransmitters, receptors, regional activations and brain waves have undergone changes due to stress. All of this can increase the likelihood of hypnopompic hallucinations.
Trauma: People who have suffered traumatic experiences are more likely to experience problems related to sleep. A person with a history of trauma may be unable (or very difficult) to decrease the alert mode of his sympathetic nervous system to fall asleep.
In addition, the brain may be so preoccupied with the plot that regions that are responsible for maintaining the surveillance state work abnormally, creating an “on alert” state while the person is asleep. This not only leads to poor sleep quality but to abnormal electroencephalographic activity during sleep, which can lead to hallucinations.
Variable sleep schedule: Someone with a sleep schedule that is inconsistent and highly variable may be more prone to hallucinations. Constantly altering when you go to sleep as well as when you wake up is altering your natural circadian rhythm. Not being their normal or natural rhythm can lead to altered brain activation and neurochemical alteration.
Types of hypnopompic hallucinations
There are several types of hypnopompic hallucinations that can be experienced. They exist from visuals (the most common ones) and auditory; But there are more.
Visual images: Although we have previously said that there are several factors that make each hypnopompic hallucination different (always analyzing it from different subjects) it is true that there are common patterns. One explanation is that there may be an irritation within the primary visual cortex, that would explain why you can get to see geometric figures or simple figures. On the other hand, if this irritation of the primary visual cortex also ends up affecting other visual areas, more complex hallucinations could occur, for example, humanoid figures. EEG (Electroencephalography) readings may confirm certain aspects of this hypothesis, as well as experimental studies with brain stimulation of these regions. Some examples of visual hypnopompic hallucinations are:
- Complex figures
- Geometric forms
- Simple Figures
- Morphological forms (humanoides)
Auditory: The second most common type of hypnopompic hallucination is the sounds or voices that are perceived. These sounds can be subtle and stay for several minutes, or they can be noisy and last for a few seconds. Such hallucinations may be perceived as alarming or in other cases as pleasant. These sounds can be generated by the abnormal cerebral activation of the auditory cortex. The greater the activation, the more complex the sounds may be. Some examples of sounds:
- Animal sounds
- Voices or people talking
- TV sound
It may also be the case to hear something related to what was being thought at that time.
Tactile: Tactile hallucinations are less common than hearing or visual. Even so, these hallucinations are relatively common in cases of sleep paralysis. Those who are under a dream-induced hallucination may feel like they are being held under pressure or may even feel muscle pain. The causes of such muscle pain may be the result of resistance to that immobilization or panic. Some examples of tactile hallucination:
- Body pressure
- Chest pressure
- Pins or needles
Vestibular-motor (movement): Another type of hallucinatory experiences suffered are motor or movement. Since the hypnopompic state is generally associated with less pleasant experiences than hypnagogic states, these perceived sensations of movement may be disagreeable (usually). Some examples:
- Feeling that you are floating
- Fly and fall in a vacuum
- To be shaken
In other cases, hypnopompic hallucinations of movement may be more pleasing or neutral. Cases such as having the sensation of flying in a pleasant way or that is traveling at high speed but in a nice way would be pleasant or neutral examples.
Other (less common) types: In addition to visual, auditory and touch hallucinations, there are other subtypes of hallucinations that can be experienced.
These include olfactory and gustatory. These usually go in conjunction with the most common: visual or auditory.
- Olfactory: Some people may report that the things they smell were not really present in their hypnopompic state. These odors can range from fresh and pleasant odors to more unpleasant odors like blood, rotten meat or harmful odors like gases.
- Gustative: Some people claim to have “tested” the elements, as far as taste is concerned. That is explained by the simple fact of having been thinking about a particular food or something that is not pleasant.
How to react to hypnopompic hallucinations
It should be remembered that a hypnopompic hallucination is a hallucination created by our mind and therefore can not do us more harm than we allow it psychologically speaking, especially being a hallucination of a disturbing nature.
Acceptance: The easiest way to react to a hypnopompic hallucination is by accepting it. That is, when it occurs (and this is disturbing) do not be afraid and try to be aware that is generated by the mind thanks to an altered state of consciousness or an abnormal activity of the brain. Instead of turning this phenomenon around, it is best to accept it as a normal sensory experience as a result of sleep. When we accept them, we stop activating the “fight or flight” response system of the sympathetic nervous system; Therefore, it ceases to affect us in the dream; Apart we can reduce the intensity of the hallucination.
Overcoming: It is good (as has been said before) to remember that a hallucination only happens in our brain and therefore are not real. They are false perceptions and therefore can not do us any harm. It is important to remember that if we are going to panic. Once we have been able to accept the hallucination is when we can overcome it.
Record of dreams: If we have a frequency of this type of hallucinations it is advisable to keep track of sleep habits and factors that may have contributed to having sleep problems. If we find, in these records, a pattern we can begin to eliminate factors that allow us to determine what is the one that produces this hallucination and change it.
Therapy: In some cases it is possible to seek the help of a therapist, mainly one specialized in the dream to be able to correct habits. Obviously, a therapist may suggest some ways to deal with this type of hallucination.
Recall that what is known as Visitor bedroom or bedroom is nothing more than a phenomenon of our own mind. It can be a temporary abnormality of the brain or can be due to bad habits or problems of sleep, stress, fatigue or medication intake.
This type of hallucinations usually lasts between fractions of a second to a couple of minutes, but they are always hallucinations: forms, sounds, etc. Created by our own mind and for that reason we have the ability to impose on them, because physically they do not exist and can not do us any harm unless we leave them psychologically.
Information extracted from http://mentalhealthdaily.com/