Use Holiday Stress to Cause Sleep Hallucinations

Six years ago, my husband and I were visiting family for Christmas. I was pregnant with my son (first trimester) and I felt awful. The Dropbox album for this trip is appropriately called, “Christmas: To Hell and Back.” On this trip I had what is known as a “hypnagogic hallucination.” Hypnagogic hallucinations are the visions, sounds, or sensations you experience during the first stage of sleep. If you’ve had sleep paralysis or the common nightmare of falling off a cliff right after you go to bed, then you’ve had a hypnagogic hallucination. They’re often caused by stress and anxiety.

sleep hallucination boxer puppy
Figure 1. Victim in bed with dog. Photo take by perpetrator.

Clint and I stayed at my sister’s house; she had a new puppy and a TV with many channels. We were in bed, the lights were out, and I was ready to pass out. Clint was probably watching a 45 minute video of American Truck Simulator on YouTube.

The Hallucination

Here’s what I remember: Clint gets up to use the bathroom. I close my eyes, hear the bathroom door close, and then my brain starts malfunctioning. I open my eyes and I’m still at my sister’s house, but Clint never returned from the bathroom. Instead, there’s an invisible demon presence standing in the shadows watching me. I can’t move. I start screaming, “Get out! Get out!” but my voice is muffled. I’m terrified. Why is this happening to me? The demon won’t leave. They never leave.

hallucinations nightmare sketch alpha sleep
From the demon’s perspective.

Clint wakes me up.

The demon was gone… or was it? Clint told me that he came back from the bathroom and heard me breathing heavy, so he quickly woke me up. At least that’s what he should have said. What he really said was that he heard me breathing heavy so he got out his phone and started recording it. This is when I start to wonder who that demon in my hallucination represents. Clint said that after awhile I stopped breathing heavy, so he shook the bed to get me going again. And it worked. That’s when I started yelling, “get out.” In the embarrassing (edited) audio clip below, you can hear a garbled “get out” followed by some whimpers. I sounded a lot more passionate in my hallucination.

I sound like one of those dogs that can say, “I love you.”

Here’s the point of all this: You don’t want to be “the Carolyn” in this kind of situation. If you want a good laugh, like Clint, heed my advice: get them before they get you. If your spouse or a family member is exhausted from all the Christmas shopping, baking, and socializing, make sure you stick close by as they fall asleep. You may catch them hallucinating and could get great footage to play the next morning for everyone to laugh at. That’s how you win Christmas.

Hallucination Tips and Techniques

– Must be done within 5-10 minutes of the person falling asleep.

– Put something stinky near their face. German researchers (go figure) found that smells influence peoples’ dreams. Stinky = negative, good smells = positive. Maybe light a match then blow it out so they think the room is on fire. Now that I think about it, Clint went to the bathroom right as my hallucination started…

– Use Clint’s bed shaking method. Be gentle or you’ll risk waking your victim. Try sitting at the foot of the bed and giving it a good bounce.

– Think about what you want you want the person to hallucinate and make subtle sounds associated with that monster or beast. Moaning, growling, hissing, Andre the Giant impression, are some good ideas.

– Get a friend or weird cousin to help.

– Merry Christmas!