Hallucinations at night are very scary to deal with. They can be traumatizing for the patient and for the family members too. Hallucinations while sleeping are a kind of sleep disorder which is also known as parasomnia. They can be experienced through the sense of touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight. However, most sufferers experience audio-visual hallucinations. Those who hallucinate at night, often assume it to be a dream or a nightmare.
Hallucination is defined as the Perception of visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or gustatory experiences without an external stimulus and with a compelling sense of their reality, usually resulting from a mental disorder or as a response to a drug. Hallucinations are usually experienced while sleeping.
When one wakes up with a start from a nightmare, one becomes aware of the horror, shock and time. On the other hand, when a person is suffering from hallucinations, he/she is not aware of being asleep or awake. There are two types of hallucinations while sleeping night. One is hypnagogic, which occurs just when you are about to fall asleep and the other is hypnopompic, which occurs when you are about to wake up.
The inability to fall asleep is known as insomnia. Often, people are caught worrying too much about falling asleep and getting enough sleep which leads them to being an insomniac. Thinking too much about the day-to-day activities, emotional difficulties, fatigue and underlying diseases result in insomnia.
Disturbed Sleep and Exhaustion
Disturbed sleep or waking up at frequent intervals while sleeping can lead to hallucinations. Sleep apnea or irregular breathing pattern while sleeping causes disturbed sleep. Sensory exhaustion, physical exhaustion and emotional exhaustion can lead to hallucinations.
Excessive Substance Intake
Hallucinogens like LSD, ecstasy, mescaline, etc. trigger hallucinations in a person. Other drugs such as marijuana and PCP also have hallucinatory effects. People consume these drugs to feel elated however, they get so used to the feeling of consuming drugs to feel happy that it leads to addiction and regular episodes of hallucinations.
Hallucinations in the Elderly
Hallucinations in the elderly is no different from other people. They can affect the auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile and other senses. When an older person suffers from hallucinations, they easily get angry, agitated, disturbed, scared and paranoid. The reasons for hallucinations in the elderly are Charles Bonnet Syndrome, sundown Syndrome, brain cancer, kidney failure, head injuries, aging and emotional exhaustion.
Hallucinations in Children
Hallucinations in children are often considered as nonpsychotic psychopathology. They are regarded as a part of child’s development, depending on its severity. Hallucinations in children may show up in the form of having eidetic playmates, hearing footsteps or knocking on the door. These can include seeing images and hearing voices which may traumatize the child. The other signs of hallucinations in children can be seen in the form of bizarre mood swings, odd behavior and social withdrawal.
Hallucinations in Dementia
People suffering with dementia are likely to have hallucinations. They may, like all others, see, taste, hear, smell or touch imaginary things. As dementia worsens, sufferers will affirm the fact that the hallucinations are real. Often such people are incapable of expressing what their feelings are. Hence they may never realize what is distressing them.
Hallucinations and Delusions
Although hallucinations and delusions are caused by mental disorders, they both differ in many aspects. A person suffering with hallucination does see the reality with the effect of the drugs, whereas a person experiencing delusions does not understand reality till the time the disorder is cured. Detection of delusions are very difficult as compared to diagnosing hallucinating individuals.
Hallucination at night can be very disturbing to the family persons too. It adds stress and fatigue in normal lifestyle and disrupt the day too. Some people may be suffering from narcolepsy, which causes day time episode of hallucinations. In any which way, hallucinations should not be ignored, and must be treated instantly.