Why do I hallucinate when I wake up?

This question was asked in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on 10/22/2013.
I wake up once a week in the middle of the night and I see animals. I've seen a spider one night, a grasshopper on my pillow the other night, a raccoon last night and I've seen snakes. When I go to turn the light on, nothing is there. Could these hallucinations be an underlying sleep disorder and how would I get it treated?

Doctors Answers (2)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 10/28/2013

It sounds as though you are having nightmares. If you awaken that easily you are likely in REM sleep. REM is a very light stage of sleep and dreams are most vivid. If there are formed objects in your dreams and if you are not screaming out this is not likely a night terror. Treatment is available for both disorders. If you have these "hallucinations" as you are falling asleep, we call it hypnagogic hallucinations. These are commonly present in narcolepsy.

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 10/23/2013

Those symptoms are suggestive of a disorder and you should contact a local board certified sleep specialist. These occurrences are surely disturbing to you and inconvenient.