I suffer from many things but just found a new one. It’s not a disease, in fact quite a normal condition, with 75% of us experiencing it at some time or another especially as we get older.
Ever since teen age I’ve had the habit of reading something before going to sleep. In the last year or so I’ve noticed something that happens frequently when I do this. At some point, usually after just a few pages I will get drowsy and, in the past, that was a signal to close the book and turn off the light. Lately, however, when I reach that point I will suddenly realize that I’m reading something that makes absolutely no sense. This occurs to me almost always before I’ve finished the sentence that doesn’t seem right. For example, I may read a sentence that says, “Then George picked up the tray and pushed it off the barrel and ---”. I will shake my head, refocus my eyes on the page and see that the sentence I just “imagined” I’d read actually reads, “He turned toward the girl at the counter and asked her if his table was ----”. What the H is going on? To male matters more interesting, almost every time this happens I will see, for just a milli-second, a figure of a person, sometimes sitting, sometimes standing and either facing me or with their back to me..
This doesn’t happen all the time but it also has occurred when I’m just sitting in the lounger on the lanai after lunch and am reading the newspaper but start to drift off. Obviously, some research was in order and, after a number of attempts on Google the use of the word “hallucination” led me to the condition called “Hypnagogia” which is related to hypnosis, hallucination, sleep and dreams.
What I learned was that, during a very short time, possibly a tenth of a second or so, just before falling asleep, a person might have a form of hallucination that can show itself as a tactile, optic, auditory or olfactory effect, or any combination of these. The most common occurrence is to see a flicker of something moving out of the corner of your eye causing you to turn and look only to find nothing there.
Some people will feel a short instance of paralysis. A frequent event reported by many is having a dog appear in front of them who places his front paws on their chest. I’ve never experienced either of these but I have had three unusual events. They occurred weeks apart and always around the same time; while watching late TV and beginning to feel a little drowsy. The first time I saw a young man standing a few feet off to my left, He had on khaki trousers, a light colored shirt and short blond hair. He was facing to his right and his face was not distinct. The second time I saw what was surely the same young man since the attire was the same and again he was a few feet in front of and to my left. But this time he was facing directly toward me yet I still did not take notice of his face in the so very brief time I saw him. The third time I saw a girl or young lady appear at my right and moving to my right. She had on a black skirt and a white blouse with black stripes and long black hair. Again, this occurred in a mili-second. I should note that none of these hypnagogic experiences are the least bit frightening or disturbing.
I mentioned this to my Wednesday morning coffee group – three old geezers like myself. One admitted to seeing the flickering movement but that’s all. Well that’s 50% but I’m guessing if we had a bigger group I’d discover the 75% is accurate – I hope..