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Hypnagogia (also spelled hypnogogia) describes vivid dreamlike auditory, visual, or tactile sensations, which are often accompanied by sleep paralysis. Hypnagogia experiences are most commonly associated with the wakefulness-sleep transition state.
Experienced qualities vary, and include fear, awareness of a "presence," chest or back pressure, an inability to breathe (hence the folkloric notion of mara-like creatures tormenting sleepers) or an inability to move (paralysis), open the eyes, speak, cry out for help or scream or a falling/floating sensation or a feeling of tripping (as hypnic jerks or myclonic jerks are interpreted by the brain). Exploding head syndrome may also be experienced, or just an overwhelmingly loud sound, like an inexplicable buzzing or ringing sound. Other symptoms may include numb, heavy, tingling and/or electric sensations and vibrations as well as feeling something touching the body or ants crawling on the skin (formication).
Exploding head syndrome is a condition that causes the sufferer to occasionally experience a tremendously loud noise as originating from within his or her own head, usually described as the sound of an explosion, roar, waves crashing against rocks, loud voices, or a ringing noise. This usually occurs within an hour or two of falling asleep, but is not the result of a dream and can happen while awake as well. Perceived as extremely loud, the sound is usually not accompanied by pain. Attacks appear to change in frequency over time, with several attacks occurring in a space of days or weeks followed by months of remission. Sufferers often feel a sense of fear and anxiety after an attack, accompanied by elevated heart rate. Attacks are also often accompanied by perceived flashes of light (when perceived on their own, known as a "visual sleep start") or difficulty in breathing. The condition is also known as "auditory sleep starts." It is not thought to be dangerous, although it is sometimes distressing to experience.