Does Insomnia Cause Hallucinations

Insomnia can have many negative side effects. Some of these are lack of focus, drowsiness and overeating. But this article will try to find out if insomnia causes hallucinations.

What happens when we are deprived of sleep?

When you do not sleep for an extended period of time you become drowsy and are unable to concentrate. The effects of sleeplessness are similar to alcohol in that it makes you less able to control your actions. You become uncoordinated and slow. If staying awake continues for one and a half days or more your mental faculties become severely impaired. This means that you might not know what is real and what is not.
Find out about Hallucinations at Nights.

What are Hallucinations?

Hallucinations are defined as a perception of stimuli to your senses when there is no real stimuli occurring.
You might want to refer to our articles on Hallucination at Nights and Sleep Related Hallucinations.

Different Types of Hallucinations


Visual hallucinations are something that you think you experience with your eyes.


Auditory hallucination is something you hear when there is nothing to be heard.


This happens when you think you experience a smell of something.

A mild form of hallucination is known as a disturbance. This happens when, you for example, think you see something from your peripheral vision that is not there.

Microsleep and Hallucinations

When you have been awake for around two days or more it is possible that you start experiencing hallucinations. This is because of the severe stress caused by the lack of sleep. The lack of sleep will make you so tired that you can have what is known as a micro sleep. This can happen to you even if you do not know it. You can fall asleep for a small amount of time like a second and not even know it. Therefore, you lose perspective on what is happening around you. This warps your perception and makes it easier for you to experience something that is not really happening. This is how insomnia can cause hallucinations.

Hypnopompic Hallucinations

The hypnopompic state is when an individual is waking up, a state of half sleep. Hallucinations are perceptions, usually false, that occur without any external stimuli and are experienced when a person is awake. Hypnopompic hallucinations are those that an individual experiences when he/she is waking up from sleep. They usually follow a dream. They are usually discussed along with hypnagogic hallucinations, those that are experienced as the individual is falling asleep.

Are they Dreams?

These hallucinations are different from dreams in that they do not have a story like dreams do. They are mere random perceptions. The unique thing about these experiences is that they seem very real to the individual experiencing it.

Types of Hallucinations

These hallucinations may last a few seconds but can sometimes go on for much longer time periods. They may be perceptions of shapes, smells, sounds, or even taste, as well as twitching in sleep. They may also include psychic experiences.


The perceptions of images can range from a single dot to an object, animal or even human figures. They may complex figures or may be lit unusually.


The individual may hear a bell, a song, voices, or even just random words. These words may be key to interpreting the preceding dream or may be simply gibberish, not meaning anything.


The individual may wake up with a sudden jerk, called sleep starts
(common in hypnagogic state), or experience numbness or sleep paralysis in the whole body.

Psychic Experiences

Some people may associate these experiences with telepathy, clairvoyance and other such psychic activities. They are usually a result of strong emotional or spiritual ideals.

Of the two, people admit to experiencing hypnagogic hallucinations more often and researches second this claim. Hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations do not, in any way, point to mental instability. They may be a result of inadequate sleep or sleep disorders that can be accordingly treated.

Hypnagogic Hallucinations

Hypnagogic hallucinations are also referred to as visions of half sleep, presomnal, phantasmata, anthypnic sensations, wakefulness-sleep transition state, pre-dream condition, half-dream state, praedormitium, dreamlets or sleep onset dreams. These hallucinations occur when a person is about to fall asleep or when a person is about to wake up.

Difference between Hypnagogic and Hypnapompic

As mentioned above, there is another set of hallucinations known as hypnopompic hallucinations. As a matter of fact, it is these that are known to occur just before a person wakes up and the hypagognic ones before sleep onset. But in a general sense, hypnagogia is accepted for both the states, as the hallucinations can occur when a person is drifting in and out of sleep.


Each and every one of us experience such hallucinations at one point or the other in life. But in some, these hallucinations may be more frequent than others which can imply an underlying medical condition like narcolepsy. Almost 25-30 people suffering from narcolepsy are known to suffer from these episodes.
Patients who suffer from sleep paralysis during its onset or those have excessive daytime sleepiness problem or those who suffer from rapid eye movement syndrome (usually a symptoms of narcolepsy) are also known to be developing these hallucinations.

How are the Hallucinations Like?

The hallucinations can be kinetic, tactile, visual or auditory sensations that can occur anytime between the onset of sleep to the time until one wakes up completely out of bed.

For instance, a sensation like falling down which we try to stop by abruptly waking ourselves, some may feel like someone else is also in the room, some may hear voices while trying to sleep – they can be anything. While these kind of things are not so frightening and normal, some can be really scary and cause one to have sleep problems.

A research conducted in the UK involving 4972 individuals, revealed that people suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia or narcolepsy were more prone to experience these hypnagogic hallucinations.

1 response to Does Insomnia Cause Hallucinations

  1. Logan said on May 4, 2011

    I’ve been experiencing hallucinations directly after I wake up they are beginning to make me paranoid to the point of me keeping my light and t.v. on hoping to distract me the minute I wake up. I was wondering if this is a type of Insomnia?

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