What Is Hypnagogia?
Hypnagogia, or hypnagogic state, is the state of consciousness leading into sleep; as compared to the hypnopompic state, which is the state of consciousness leading out of sleep.
The hypnagogic state is characterized by the experience of visual imagery, sounds, and sensations as you approach the threshold of sleep and dreaming. You are most likely to experience this state when you are in a REM sleep cycle.
Most of the time you are unaware of these changes in consciousness. It is only through awareness of your transition into sleep that you can experience this intriguing state.
What You Might Experience
The experience of hypnagogia will vary from night to night, and from person to person. The reverie is as unique as a fingerprint or a snowflake. No two nights are alike. Here are some of the things you might experience:
Even though your eyes may be closed, you can still experience a brilliant visual display of colorful lights, "trippy" geometric patterns, or shape-shifting images. This is known as hypnagogic imagery.
In my experiences, I have noticed images of ghostly faces, letters and words, and the visual of static from a TV set.
As you approach the threshold of dreaming, you will sometimes begin to hear noises that aren’t really there. This might include talking, ringing, whooshing sounds, etc.
In my experiences, I have heard footsteps, people giving speeches, and even the nostalgic creak of a cupboard door from my childhood home.
You might notice a feeling of floating or sinking. It is believed that this is from your dream body separating from your physical body as you enter the dream world. Don’t worry though, this is normal...you are usually just not aware of it.
How to Experience Hypnagogia
The best time to notice hypnagogia is during a REM sleep cycle. These occur every 90 minutes during the night and tend to last longer during the early morning hours.
The next time you’re falling asleep, try to become more aware.
- Relax completely. Close your eyes. Release tension from your jaw, forehead, neck, and hands. Get to the point of falling asleep.
- Maintain your mental focus. Pay attention to the sensations in your body. Focus on the sounds in the room. Notice any colors or imagery that appear on the back of your eyelids…even if it’s just blackness.
- Patience. It may take five minutes...or it may take an hour. It just depends on how close you are to the threshold of sleep. You might even fall asleep while attempting this, and that’s perfectly normal. Your awareness will increase the more you try to pay attention to the transition into sleep.
Follow Hypnagogia Into a Lucid Dream
Hypnagogia is a great sign that you are about to enter into a dream. If you maintain your focus throughout the process, you will find yourself in a Wake Induced Lucid Dream (WILD).
- After following the steps from the section above, you should start to experience imagery, sounds, and/or sensations. They will most likely be faint at first, becoming increasingly more vivid.
- Enjoy the show! Notice the imagery, sounds, and sensations as they happen. This may last several minutes.
- Enter a WILD. Often, the imagery will start to turn into a dream environment…allowing you to easily begin your lucid dream experience!
- If you haven’t lost consciousness or fallen asleep after the hypnagogic state, it is possible that you can experience body vibrations and/or sleep paralysis in a state called Mind Awake/Body Asleep.
- Body Vibrations feel like a jolt of electricity pulsating through your body. Don’t be alarmed, as it shouldn't hurt. Similar to the sensation of floating, this is a sign that your dream body is separating from your physical body in order to enter the dream. Just stay relaxed and let it take its course.
- Sleep Paralysis is just as it sounds…your body becomes rigid and paralyzed in bed, unable to move or speak. This is your body’s way of preventing itself from moving while you dream. If this happens, try to imagine yourself floating out of your body and into the dream.
Dreams & Sleep