Hypnopompic Hallucinations - Waking Up To Horrific Nightmares

Hypnopompic hallucinations (also referred to as hypnopompic imagery) refer to any images or sensations associated with the cessation of sleep or the transition to wakefulness. Conversely, such imagery experienced upon falling asleep is known as hypnagogic imagery (although see the usage note just below).

Usage Note

In some cases, including on this site, you may see the term hypnagogic hallucinations used to cover both hypnopompic hallucinations (when waking up) and hypnagogic ones (when falling asleep).

This is largely a matter of convenience, as many conditions--such as sleep paralysis--can involve both hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. By referring to them both with the umbrella-term hypnagogic, the writer can facilitate communication and limit the bulkiness of the terms in his or her sentences.

Hypnopompic imagery is often incredibly vivid and sometimes even terribly frightening. For instance, people experiencing the phenomenon of awareness during sleep paralysis often have these episodes, where they awake not being able to move a muscle, accompanied with nightmarish hypnopompic hallucinations. For some examples, check out the stories below.

Stories Involving Hypnopompic Hallucinations

The following are some visitor-submitted stories involving cases of hypnopompic hallucinations. Browse through them to get a better sense of the incredible nature of some of this imagery, as well as the frightening potential. They are nothing short of testament to the extraordinary capabilities of our mind to create.


Confused and Paralyzed During Dreams While Waking Up  I don't know how to explain it, but a few times I have dreamt that I am laying there awake and paralyzed or keep going in and out of dreams, but I don'...

Scared to Sleep   I consider myself a normal 42 yr. old female, other than my lack of healthy and restful sleep. I have suffered from Sleep Paralysis since I was 15 yrs....

I Know I'm Awake  I was sleeping at a friend's house that I had never been to. We were planning on holding a paranormal investigation because of some strange goings on ...

Read more stories of hypnopompic hallucinations

If you have a story involving hypnopompic hallucinations and would like to share it, we would love to hear it. If it involves sleep paralysis, you can submit it here. If it does not, feel free to submit it here.

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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

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The Zeo

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Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

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