When my eyes are closed, and I’m waiting to fall asleep, I often feel I’m seeing people or places that aren’t there. It’s not the same as dreaming because I’m awake. Am I losing it?
—Charles B., Indianapolis, Ind. No, the experience is common. These sensations are called hypnagogic hallucinations. A similar phenomenon may occur when we first wake up and open our eyes. We may “see” something unreal, such as a cat that is actually in another room—or maybe a spider crouching on the clock! Or we may think we just heard the phone ring, when it was silent. (That’s an auditory hallucination.) All kinds of crazy stuff can happen, and nearly all of it means nothing.