Dream Sequence – part II: hypnogogic states

I don’t know if you’d ever experienced anything like hypnogic sleep states, but it’s pretty interesting:


The hypnagogic state can summon an array of senses, and is by no means limited to visuals. Auditory hypnagogia range from household noises like phones ringing, to music, to voices calling your name, to the loud buzzing noise associated with the onset of an Out of Body Experience. What’s more, physical hypnagogia can cause you to feel as if you are floating outside of your body.

While some people consider hypnagogia to be meaningless activity of the brain – a way of clearing out unwanted junk – others believe it has more value. Just like lucid dreams, hypnagogia can be consciously guided and interpreted as it happens, forging a basic two-way communication with the unconscious mind. Therefore, on one level hypnagogia is a way of leading us into the dreamstate.

Scientists have linked the hypnagogic state with NREM sleep, pre-sleep alpha waves, REM sleep and relaxed wakefulness. There is a theory that regular meditation can enable you to develop a skill to freeze the hypnagogic process at later and later stages. And from personal experience, hypnagogia can be extremely helpful in deepening the meditative state required for wake-induced lucidity.

My hypnogogic states are usually scary, but at least I know a little more about them now.

Dream #2:

Usually when I’m in a hypnogogic state, I know I’m in my bed, in my bedroom and it’s dark.   I’m trapped in sleep paralysis.  I often hear a buzzing nose very, very similar to the sound locusts make in the summertime – it starts off quiet, it gets a lot louder, then it gets quieter again.  Usually, I dream that intruders are in my house, coming down the hallway but I can’t do anything about it.  I’m calling out for my husband for help, and at the same time wondering if I’m actually saying it out loud, or just in my head.  As my husband never woke me up during these states, I imagine I never say anything out loud.   Usually I realize it’s up to me to defend myself and my family against the intruders, and I am able to get up and go for a shotgun that’s in the closet (in this case in the dream it is a double-barreled shotgun), but I find it too heavy to hold, and when I try to raise it up, just to scare off the intruder, the gun break-action opens up and I’m left with a useless weapon.  I either wake up at that point or move into another dream.

Since I’ve had this experience a few times, if I don’t end up dizzy (sometimes I do), I have less anxiety about it because I’ve been aware in my dream that I’m in a hypnogogic state.  It’s not as scary as it used to be and then I end up moving into a dream state and everything is okay.

When I told my husband about it, his response, ” I think it means we need to get you out for more target practice”.

I really think it means something else, maybe feeling powerless in real life.

The last time I was in a state like that, I prevented a rising sense of fear because I was able to remember in the dream that all that was ‘normal’ for a hypnogogic state and I was able to settle down some because I knew it wasn’t real.

If I ever have one again, I would like to try lucid dreaming, though I think I have had some lucid dreams, even if I wasn’t sure about them at the time.

My middle daughter has told me she can instruct herself to dream about a certain thing, and then she dreams it.  Sometimes she has scary dreams, and so I told her, if she could, to try and change the dream voluntarily.  She told me something interesting.  She said she’d work on “changing the channel” if her dreams got scary.  I wonder if that actually worked out for her.  Remind me to ask her sometime.

Have you ever remembered having any hynogogic states of consciousness or lucid dreaming?


About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
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4 Responses to Dream Sequence – part II: hypnogogic states

  1. ptero9 says:

    Yes, years ago, I frequently had very lucid dreams and they could be terrifying. The theme was frequently that I was waking up to the fact that an intruder was in the room with me and I felt physically paralyzed. Often times I would experience bizarre sequences of again, in the dream, feeling that I was waking up. It was frightening because I could not tell if I was ever waking up.
    After a few years they went away, for the most part. I think in the last ten years maybe I have had 4 or 5 lucid, very vivd dreams.
    It’s hard to describe them to anyone who has not experienced them, because they are just as much a sensation as they are a dream. The sense that you are awake while having them is frightening.
    I think perhaps metaphorically, and in hindsight, these lucid dreams were saying that I needed to wake up and that my waking state was not what I thought it was.

    • Casey says:

      Oh, definitely, they are very much a sensation as they are a dream. I really dislike being conscious of sleep paralysis because you are so helpless and it’s very frightening to be unable to move. The dizziness actually makes me want to throw up…and it lasts even if I wake up and into the next day. I think that has something to do with pressure on a certain part of my head and there was a name for it. I found it once before online, but I forgot what it was called.

      Yes, I never really have known anyone to have experiences like this. My husband has had premonitions in dreams, but not for a long, long while.

      I like the idea that the dreams might be indicating you need to wake up and your waking state wasn’t what you thought it was.

      I was reading about dreams and came upon this:

      Recurring Dreams

      “Recurring dreams are story lines or themes that repeat themselves over weeks, months and even years. Sometimes they leave you feeling puzzled because they seem irrational. Dreams ever seek to wake you to what you are not facing and the hero’s journey of wellness through the dreamscape is explored in The Mythology of Sleep: The Waking Power of Dreams. Dreams have a way of forcing consciousness into perplexity, as an important aspect of transformation. At times, a recurring dream can be extremely frightening. Since dreams are suggesting what you fail to acknowledge in daily life, whatever you are avoiding or not facing will continue to be the subject matter of your dream, until it is resolved. Like nightmares, once the puzzle is solved and the aspect is integrated into consciousness, the dream will not recur. Even the most frightening dreams are meant to awaken you to your real nature.”

      I think maybe I’ll give more consideration to my dreams as a tool to help me grow.

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