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Word of the Week: HYPNAGOGIC

Written by Science

This refers to the drowsy state the mind descends into immediately before a person falls asleep – when you are not yet sleeping but are not quite awake either. In opposition, the period between full sleep and complete wakefulness is known as ‘hypnopompic’.

Once in this state a person can experience vivid hallucinations that range from the visual, the auditory, the tactile (sense of touch) and the kinetic where a person feels as though they are either falling or floating.

It is not fully understood why we have these hallucinations but it is believed that everyone will undergo this sensation at least once in their lives. The developing minds of children are more open to hallucinations suggesting they might be caused by a miscommunication along one of the pathways of the brain. However, adults suffering from sleep deprivation and narcolepsy have an increased chance of experiencing these phantom sensations.

Last modified: 9th November 2015

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