I See Spiders When I Wake Up, What Could It Be?

Has it ever happened to you that when you woke up you thought you saw a huge spider or perhaps the face of an old man? Have you heard footsteps while you were falling asleep or thought you heard an explosion? Do not worry, these perceptions that you experience as real are still the result of the hallucinating processes that our mind produces, in this case our mind does just this, hallucinating. These sensory perceptions are caused by the so-called hypnopomic or hypnagogic hallucinations, which occur in the sleep-wake transition processes and vice versa. If you want to know their peculiarities, continue reading this PsychologyFor article: I see spiders when I wake up, what could it be?

Experiencing hallucinations of spiders upon waking up can be a distressing and alarming phenomenon. While such hallucinations may seem vivid and real, they are often a product of the mind and may be associated with various factors, including sleep disturbances, stress, anxiety, and certain medical conditions. Here are some possible explanations for why you may be seeing spiders when you wake up.

Seeing nonexistent spiders, what is it?

Some of the questions that arise during consultation are: “I woke up and saw a spider, why?” or “I see spiders when I wake up, what could it be?” Seeing non-existent spiders when you wake up is due to hypnopomic hallucinations. If you saw them before going to sleep they would be hypnagogic hallucinations Hypnopomic and hypnagogic hallucinations are hallucinations, that is, a sensory perception without a real external stimulus that triggers them, which appear in the transition periods of sleep-wake and vice versa, that is, when entering sleep and waking up from sleep.

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move or speak that occurs upon waking up or falling asleep. During sleep paralysis, individuals may experience vivid hallucinations, including seeing spiders or other creatures in the room. These hallucinations can be terrifying but are generally harmless and typically resolve once the paralysis lifts.

Hypnagogic Hallucinations

Hypnagogic hallucinations are vivid sensory experiences that occur between wakefulness and sleep. These hallucinations can involve visual, auditory, or tactile sensations and may include seeing spiders or other objects that are not actually present. Hypnagogic hallucinations are a normal part of the sleep-wake transition and usually subside once fully awake.

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Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can exacerbate sleep disturbances and increase the likelihood of experiencing hallucinations, including visual hallucinations of spiders. Heightened stress levels can trigger the brain’s fight-or-flight response, leading to hyperarousal and sensory distortions that may manifest as hallucinations during sleep or upon waking up.

Sleep Disorders

Certain sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or REM sleep behavior disorder, may be associated with hallucinations during sleep or upon waking up. In narcolepsy, individuals may experience hallucinations during the transition between wakefulness and sleep, known as hypnagogic hallucinations. REM sleep behavior disorder is characterized by acting out dreams during REM sleep and may involve vivid and sometimes frightening hallucinations.

Underlying Medical Conditions

In some cases, hallucinations upon waking up may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as migraine with aura, epilepsy, or delirium. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or distressing hallucinations, especially if they are accompanied by other symptoms such as headaches, seizures, or confusion.

Difference between hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations

The difference between the two lies in the moment of their appearance, since the hypnagogic hallucinations They occur when the person passes from wakefulness to sleep while the hypnopomic hallucinations appear when the person is waking up of the dream. Hypnopomic and hypnagogic hallucinations can appear as an isolated phenomenon or be part of the symptomatology of a disorder, such as sleep paralysis or narcolepsy.

Hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations: characteristics and examples

  1. Types of sensory perception: As we have mentioned, hallucinations are sensory perceptions and in this case, the most frequent sensory categories in hypnopomic and hypnagogic hallucinations are visual ones, for example see spiders when you wake up and/or auditory, for example hear footsteps, music,.. However, they can also be olfactory, gustatory, tactile, thermal and kinesthetic.
  2. Simultaneity: The appearance of a sensory hallucination does not exempt the appearance of another, it is possible to have hallucinations of different sensory modalities at the same time and their combination increases the degree of realism of the hallucination, so that the more senses are incorporated into the hallucination, the more real it is. be.
  3. Occurrence and duration: The most common occurrence is sporadically, although they can also appear consecutively, less frequently. Its duration is very brief and dynamic, maintaining the hallucination for a few seconds.
  4. Prevalence: The appearance of hypnopomic and hypnagogic hallucinations is more common in childhood and adolescence and although they can persist into adulthood, they appear less frequently. However, it is estimated that 50% of the population experiences a hallucination of this type throughout their lives.
  5. Frequency: Hypnagogic hallucinations, those that occur in the transition from wakefulness to sleep, are much more frequent and have been better studied than hypnopomic hallucinations, those that occur when waking up.
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Visual hypnopomic hallucinations

As we have previously indicated, the most common type of hallucination is visual, along with auditory, and in this article we will focus on visual hallucinations:

  1. Image permanence: When the person perceives the image produced by the hallucination, this image can change or transform into another very quickly and its duration tends to be a few seconds. Although the duration of visual hallucinations is very short, these They can be very vivid and real<
  2. Size: Images can take on different sizes, generally being classified as small (micropsias) or gigantic (megalopsias).
  3. Theme: Hypnopomic images tend to be characterized by their great variety of themes, however the following types of visual hallucinations have been identified in them:
  • Amorphous shapes: like clouds, waves,…
  • Shapes with design: geometric figures, shapes, symmetries,…
  • Faces of people, animals and objects.
  • Nature elements.
  • Letters and writings: their language can be both real and imaginary language.

Causes of hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations

Why do you have these hallucinations? Hypnagogic and hypnopomic hallucinations tend to appear as an isolated phenomenon, without the need to be associated with any disorder. In this case, its appearance is related to elevated levels of stress and anxiety as well as fatigue or an irregular sleep schedule and therefore, they do not have any implications for our health, they are harmless and not pathological. For this reason, they occasionally tend to be called physiological hallucinations because they can occur in healthy people, without the need for a disorder to be present.

However, when these appear repetitively, their frequency may be related to some sleep disorder, the most common being sleep paralysis and narcolepsy.

  • Sleep paralysis: disorder that is part of parasomnias. Parasomnias are considered a set of abnormal behaviors or phenomena that appear in sleep and their classification will depend on the phase of sleep in which they occur, with their appearance being more frequent between one phase and another. In the following article you will find the types and phases of sleep and their characteristics. Sleep paralysis causes the sufferer to feel unable to move voluntarily, while falling asleep or upon waking up, for about 20 to 60 seconds.
  • Narcolepsy: When the intensity of the hallucinations is much greater, it may be due to narcolepsy, that is, a sleep disorder characterized by excessive drowsiness during the day.
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Given this, we would speak of a disorder, while if their appearance is isolated and not repetitive, these hallucinations are not considered a disorder. It should be added that these must be differentiated from hallucinations produced in psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. Given all this, we must keep in mind that its prolonged appearance requires the help of a specialist.

Experiencing hallucinations of spiders upon waking up can be unsettling, but it is essential to remember that these hallucinations are often a product of the mind and are not necessarily indicative of a serious underlying condition. However, if you are concerned about your symptoms or if they persist or worsen over time, it is advisable to seek medical evaluation to rule out any underlying medical or psychiatric conditions.

This article is merely informative, at PsychologyFor we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to I see spiders when I wake up, what could it be? we recommend that you enter our Cognitive Psychology category.

Bibliography

  • González, JL (1993). Sleep psychopathology. Focus on Psychiatry, 4, 76-87.
  • Iriarte, J., Urrestarazu, E., Alegre, M., Viteri, C & Artieda, J. (2005). Parasomnias: abnormal episodes during sleep. REV MED UNIV NAVARRA, 49, 46-52.
  • Parra, A. (2009). Nocturnal Hallucinatory Experiences: Relationship with Schizotypy, Dissociative Tendencies and Propensity to Fantasy. Interamerican Journal of Psychology, 43, 134-143.