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Sleep Hallucinations - Diagnosis & Treatment


Diagnosis


You should see a sleep specialist if hallucinations cause you great anxiety or often disrupt your sleep. If you have them along with severe daytime sleepiness, then you may have narcolepsy. In this case, you should see a sleep specialist right away. 

The doctor will need to know when the hallucinations began. He or she will want to know how often they occur and how long they last. The doctor will need to know your complete medical, psychiatric, and sleep history. The doctor will want to know if you are unusually sleepy or have any other sleep problems. Be sure to inform him or her of any past or present drug and medication use. 

Also tell your doctor if you have ever had any other sleep disorder. Find out if you have any family members with sleep problems. It will also be helpful if you fill out a sleep diary for two weeks. The sleep diary will help the doctor see your sleeping patterns. This data gives the doctor clues about what is causing your problem and how to correct it. 

Your doctor may have you do an overnight sleep study if your problem is severely disturbing your sleep. This study is called a polysomnogram. It charts your brain waves, heart beat, and breathing as you sleep. It also records how your arms and legs move. This study will help reveal if the hallucinations are related to any other sleep disorder.

If you tend to be very sleepy during the day, then your doctor may also have you do a daytime nap study. This is called a Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). The MSLT will measure how fast you fall asleep during the day. It will also show what kind of sleep you have when you take a nap. It will help to show if your hallucinations are a sign of narcolepsy.
 

Treatment


Sleep related hallucinations may or may not need treatment. They tend to decrease with time. They may also decrease as you do the following:
  • Get enough sleep
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule
  • Avoid alcohol and certain drugs and medications
If they are causing sleep disruption or anxiety, then the doctor may prescribe medications to help you. He or she may also change any current medications you may be taking for depression or anxiety.
If the hallucinations are a sign of narcolepsy, then the doctor will prescribe narcolepsy medications.