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Old 02-01-2009, 04:37 AM   #1
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Strange mental images before sleeping

This is probably going to sound strange and I'm not even sure this is in the right board. I havent mentioned this to a doctor as I barely know how to describe it myself without sounding crazy (and in fear of sounding crazy!)...so I thought I would see if anyone on here had experienced anything similar or knows what I'm talking about.

When I go to bed and lay down and try and sleep it's almost as if my mind starts dreaming while I'm still awake...I have no control over my thoughts..random..sometimes disturbing images pop into my head that I have no idea where they come from and Im still pretty much fully awake..it's not like when your drifting to sleep and start dreaming..it's almost like im hallucinating. It also feels as if my thoughts are racing..going from one strange image to the next and i CANNOT clear my thoughts. The only time I have ever experienced this before was with recreational drugs like ecstacy. It would also happen before I slept but it didnt worry me as I associated it with the drugs. I havent touched any drugs in almost 2 years and even drink very little but I have found this happening over the last few months - and of course it does worry me because im totally sober! It worries me that my losing my mind and have done myself some kind of psychological damage...but during the day I dont experience this. I go to university..work part time and function fine in both.

The other thing that happens (not all the time) but a lot is when I do finally sleep I frequently wake up gasping for air as if ive been holding my breath...or the the falling/jolt feeling..this happens 10-20 times meaning that it can take me ages to sleep.

Some background info that may be relevant:
1. I had a long term illness about 2yrs ago and now have 'brain fog' all the time...my mind has never felt 'right' since I was sick..but I do function ok..I just always feel a little stoned/hazy
2. I suffer from anxiety (if u hadnt guessed!) but most the time I can handle it

If anyone has any insight into what this may be i would appreciate it. I sometimes wonder if its just a part of my anxiety but it seems strange that I experienced the same thing when on drugs..which I always associated with too much serotonin from the pills. When I'd had drugs though it only happened the night I'd taken them..not continously like it is now..and I never did what i'd consider enough to cause permanent damage.

 
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:23 AM   #2
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zeroman HB User
Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

Quote:
Originally Posted by ell88 View Post
The other thing that happens (not all the time) but a lot is when I do finally sleep I frequently wake up gasping for air as if ive been holding my breath...or the the falling/jolt feeling..this happens 10-20 times meaning that it can take me ages to sleep.
sounds like you may have obstructive sleep apnea, where you stop breathing (usually because of a physical problem related to throat issues closing off the airway) and then wake up when your O2 level drops. this can be a serious condition, so be sure to see a doc about this.

sounds like you need a sleep study where they monitor such things. OSA can be treated by a CPAP/BIPAP machine, which basically forces air into you while you sleep, or sometimes surgery can correct it.

as for the dream like stuff as you fall asleep, thats more or less considered normal, many people (including myself) experience it. I think one term for it is hypnagogia but Im not 100% sure if Im thinking of the right term. it may also be more noticable because of the poor nights sleep youre getting.
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Last edited by zeroman; 02-01-2009 at 07:24 AM.

 
Old 02-01-2009, 10:04 AM   #3
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Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

Welcome to the boards!

Just a couple of questions first, if you don't mind...

Do you live in the United Kingdom?

Two years ago, was your illnesss diagnosed as glandular fever or something similar? What symtoms did you experience? What treatments did you receive?

Bethsheba

 
Old 02-02-2009, 03:20 AM   #4
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Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

Thanks for the replies..

zeroman - Thanks for the info I hadnt heard of obstructive sleep apnea. I do have asthma and snore horrendously every single night so they might be contributing factors too. Although when this happens it never feels like an asthma attack & I generally just fall back to sleep..until it happens again! Also nice to know I'm not alone with the mental images. I think it just made me concerned as I associated it with the drugs and thought that my mind shouldnt be doing things sober that I experience when intoxicated!

bethsheba - Yep I'm from the UK. My illness never got officially diagnosed..they never found out what it was. To cut a long story shortish I was experiencing recurrent high fevers and generally feeling like death all the time..very dizzy, spaced out etc. They kept giving me doses of antibiotics for various things I didnt have, thought at first it was a bacterial inner ear infection etc..then finally referred me to infectious disease clinic who tested me for a lot of things but still couldnt find anything except that my white blood cells were off. They gave me two types of antibiotics for 4 months which killed whatever it was off and I got a lot better apart from the spacyness. Whatever it was i always responded to antibiotics ..they always brought my fever down. I was sick for about a year and a half..mostly because of delayed treatment. The GP's were just giving me 2 week courses of antibiotics which was too short.

They did think I had glandular fever when I was about 16 though..totally different symptoms to above (i had sore throat, very swollen glands, fever)..but didnt show up on the blood tests..which they said was common. He eventually relented and gave me antibiotics and I was fine in a month or so..so couldnt have been glandular fever?

 
Old 02-02-2009, 05:41 AM   #5
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zeroman HB User
Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

Quote:
Originally Posted by ell88 View Post
zeroman - Thanks for the info I hadnt heard of obstructive sleep apnea. I do have asthma and snore horrendously every single night so they might be contributing factors too. Although when this happens it never feels like an asthma attack & I generally just fall back to sleep..until it happens again! Also nice to know I'm not alone with the mental images. I think it just made me concerned as I associated it with the drugs and thought that my mind shouldnt be doing things sober that I experience when intoxicated!
heavy snoring is almost a given with OSA. heavy snoring does not necessarily indicate OSA (I snore heavily but dont have OSA), but OSA sufferers are almost always heavy snorers.

do you wake up with headaches? thats another symptom. are you excessively tired during the day? again, another symptom.

basically OSA is caused when some part of your throat or other part of your airway gets obstructed due to.. well a variety of physical condition. if you have a thick neck, are overweight, have a large uvula (that "thing" than hangs down in back of your mouth), swelling in the airway, odd muscle tone in the airway, things along those lines, they will close the airway off during sleep. that of course wakens you up, and you resume breathing again. you may not even notice you wake when this happens as you usually go right back into sleep. this can happen literally hundred of time per night, interfering with your sleep stages. it also can exasperate other condition as the messed up sleep beats on your system pretty hard. thats why you need to have a doc look at this.

I would definitely go to a doc and mention this. a polysomnograph (sleep study) is the usual diagnostic procedure to find this. the test can also find other sleep disorders.

if it is OAS the good news is once you get a CPAP/BiPAP you will be a new person.
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Last edited by zeroman; 02-02-2009 at 05:48 AM.

 
Old 02-02-2009, 06:59 AM   #6
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Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

Thanks again for the information, I will mention this to my doctor. I have difficulty swallowing frequently (during the day) due to chronic congestion in my throat that just seems to sit there and that I can't swallow or cough up. This is especially bad when laying down so I wonder if that has something to do with it. I always associated it with the asthma as it came with other asthma symptoms and my inhaler reduces the congestion (or makes it easier to get rid of) somewhat. I'm not overweight, my uvula seems normal as far as I know..i don't wake up to headaches and im always tired but not 'unable to stay awake' tired...Whether it is a type of sleep apnea or not it definately dosent seem normal so needs checking out. My partner says when Im snoring I have my mouth WIDE open my seem to kind of push my tongue back in my throat (attractive I'm sure!)

 
Old 02-02-2009, 07:36 AM   #7
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Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

Ell,

I didn't think it was glandular fever, but I've seen a lot of posts coming out of the UK with similar symptoms and the doctors there initially diagnose the condition as glandular fever....however, the condition deteriorates in the weeks/months/years after the "fever" and the patient is left with a myriad of symptoms that do not respond to traditional treatment, and the patients are left with no diagnosis.

Recently a number of posters have been posting on the sleep boards with symptoms that those of us with "traditional" sleep disorders have not experienced...ironically, the sleep problems are similar to posters on other boards (anemia, brain, ear and eye problems, general, etc.).

I am going to suggest to you that it is possible that you may have a bacterial infection in your body but one that is not easily identified...this infectious disease is reaching epidemic proporations in some parts of our country (in the state that I live in) and in your country also (from what I can gather based on the large number of posts I see from the UK with similar symptoms.)

This infection often starts out with symptoms of the flu...body aches, fever, but there may be no respiratory problems initially. Then after a few weeks/months/years other symptoms appear...respiratory problems, increased allergies, rashes, bone and joint problems, recurring infections (yeast and bladder are common), sensory changes, popping joints, body vibrations/purring/shaking, odd reactions to drinking alcohol, etc.

I suspect you may have this infection (and perhaps coinfections) because of your symptoms, because you live in the UK where many people have similar symptoms, because the carriors of this disease have been found in London parks and other places, and because you have had a positive response to antibiotics (some people have a horrible response but as strange as that sound it means that the treatment is effective).

Unfortunately, this infectious disease is very difficult to identify...there is only 1(maybe 2) laboratories in the United States that have sophisticated tests for the various strains of this disease and even then some people continue to test negative...for that reason, the local and the international specialists who treat this disease don't rely SOLELY on tests, but make a diagnosis based on symptoms and their response to different antibiotic treatment.

You may find more information on the Lyme Boards, but before posting I would advise you read the "stickies" at the top of the boards as their is a wealth of info there.

Do not make the assumption that you have to have all of the symptoms...you only need one symptom to have lyme....but the only positive symptom for lyme disease is a bulls eye rash and less than 50 percent of people with lyme remember getting the rash.

Take care and good luck!

Bethsheba

PS Antibiotic treatment for Lyme is typically longer than for other infections due to the life cycle of the bacteria among other things.

Last edited by bethsheba; 02-03-2009 at 11:40 AM.

 
Old 02-02-2009, 07:41 AM   #8
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bethsheba HB Userbethsheba HB Userbethsheba HB Userbethsheba HB Userbethsheba HB User
Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

Ell,

Yes, you may also have sleep apnea (I do and sleep with a cpap)....but based on my personal experience with apnea I think your primary diagnosis is not obstructive, central, or mixed apnea. But apnea can be a life threatening condition so it's best that you rule it out/in and treat if necessary.

Bethsheba

 
Old 01-11-2010, 12:40 PM   #9
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Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

I do the exact same thing before I fall asleep! Glad to know I am not the only one.

 
Old 01-28-2012, 12:17 PM   #10
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Mike7773 HB User
Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

Quote:
Originally Posted by ell88 View Post
This is probably going to sound strange and I'm not even sure this is in the right board. I havent mentioned this to a doctor as I barely know how to describe it myself without sounding crazy (and in fear of sounding crazy!)...so I thought I would see if anyone on here had experienced anything similar or knows what I'm talking about.

When I go to bed and lay down and try and sleep it's almost as if my mind starts dreaming while I'm still awake...I have no control over my thoughts..random..sometimes disturbing images pop into my head that I have no idea where they come from and Im still pretty much fully awake..it's not like when your drifting to sleep and start dreaming..it's almost like im hallucinating. It also feels as if my thoughts are racing..going from one strange image to the next and i CANNOT clear my thoughts. The only time I have ever experienced this before was with recreational drugs like ecstacy. It would also happen before I slept but it didnt worry me as I associated it with the drugs. I havent touched any drugs in almost 2 years and even drink very little but I have found this happening over the last few months - and of course it does worry me because im totally sober! It worries me that my losing my mind and have done myself some kind of psychological damage...but during the day I dont experience this. I go to university..work part time and function fine in both.

The other thing that happens (not all the time) but a lot is when I do finally sleep I frequently wake up gasping for air as if ive been holding my breath...or the the falling/jolt feeling..this happens 10-20 times meaning that it can take me ages to sleep.

Some background info that may be relevant:
1. I had a long term illness about 2yrs ago and now have 'brain fog' all the time...my mind has never felt 'right' since I was sick..but I do function ok..I just always feel a little stoned/hazy
2. I suffer from anxiety (if u hadnt guessed!) but most the time I can handle it

If anyone has any insight into what this may be i would appreciate it. I sometimes wonder if its just a part of my anxiety but it seems strange that I experienced the same thing when on drugs..which I always associated with too much serotonin from the pills. When I'd had drugs though it only happened the night I'd taken them..not continously like it is now..and I never did what i'd consider enough to cause permanent damage.
Elle88,
I'm curious to know if you ever recieved any info regarding why this happens to you...I have had the same exact thing happen to me for nearly 5 years. It's not all the time and it's usually when I'm stressed or when I've had too much to drink the night before. When I lay down and close my eyes I instantly start seeing strange and sometimes downright terrifying images while still being awake. I too feel as if I have no control over my thoughts, as if (which this is going to sound nuts) my brain has has been taken over by something else. I have a pretty insane imagination aand often wonder if that's a contributing factor? I also wonder when this happens if I've lost it and gone mad.
Also, when I do eventually fall asleep, I find myself waking up gaasping for air with the sensation that I haven't been breathing. Often times I leap out of bed in full on panic attack mode and desperately try to calm myself. The waking up gasping happens several times throughout the night. As I said before, this doesn't happen to me all the time, in fact probably only 5-10 times a year, but what I've noticed is that the images and the gasping for air go hand in hand. I 've never had only one happen at a time. So, that being said...I find it very hard to believe this is some kind of sleep apnea or obstruction of the throat or airwaves. What would that have to do with creepy, uncontrollable images in our heads right as we close our eyes to sleep? And also, why would we only wake up gasping when we experience these images first? I've never asked my doctor because I live a fully functional and reasonably healthy life and these occurances are more of a nuessance then anything else. I'm hoping it's just a reaction to the mind being over stressed and/or something associated with anxiety (which I suffer from time to time). I hope this helps you feel better knowing you're not alone experiencing this and if there is no medical explanation then take comfort in the fact that we can decsend into madness together! I'm go glad I found you're post (not glad you experience this) as I've been searching for years for someone else who has had this happen. Please respond if you have any new info!

 
Old 02-17-2012, 04:11 PM   #11
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Re: Strange mental images before sleeping

I don't agree with any of the above posts, with all due respect for their comments.

The "mental images" you describe sounds like hypnogogic hallucinations. They are most common in people with narcolepsy. People with narcolepsy can have hallucinations while falling asleep or while waking up. You probably also have sleep paralysis while this is happening. When you finally emerge from the paralysis, you gasp for air. This doesn't necessarily mean you weren't breathing. It's just that when people are experiencing sleep paralysis and hallucinations, they often get the sensation that they aren't breathing, and gasp for air once they can fully move again... even though they never actually stopped breathing.

I bet you have narcolepsy, or some disorder on the "narcolepsy spectrum". That's why you feel hazy and stoned during the day. You're sleepy, not stoned. I don't think it's anxiety causing the problems. BTW, it's not unheard of for people with narcolepsy to be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia because they described their hallucinations to someone with no knowledge of sleep disorders. Make sure to tell your doctor they occur while falling asleep, during that period of time where you get that falling sensation... and don't be afraid to tell the doctor you think it sounds like the hallucinations that occur with narcolepsy... because some doctors would never think of it.

You should request to have an overnight sleep study followed immediately (the next morning) by a day time nap study. Or you should ask to be seen by a sleep specialist who can order these tests.

In the mean time, if you want to stop the sleep paralysis, try sleeping on your side or stomach. Sleep paralysis almost always occurs while sleeping on the back.

 
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