– What is the “falling thing” people apparently experience when trying to sleep?

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I keep seeing it popping up, whether that be in memes or comments. I don’t think I have experienced this ever. Is this some sort of genetic thing? I tried searching it on Google, and the first result mentioned something like

> What causes falling sensation while sleeping is the natural disengagement of the astral body

– and I just stopped reading when it mentioned astral body. Is this just another thing we have no idea about or is there something to this?

In: Biology

Our body relaxes our muscles when we sleep so we don’t act out our dreams, however if your body relaxes all it’s muscles just before you pass out it can feel like you’re falling, which jolts you awake again.

This is likely referring to hypnic jerks. These are involuntary muscle spasms. They are often caused by excessive caffeine intake or anxiety, but can just as often be nothing more than a dream.

Follow up question, can they always be seen by others? I remember in middle school i was falling asleep at my desk and i had probably one of the most startling jerks and woke up immediately. Like falling off a cliff and went splat. I was expecting others to look or laugh at me but nobody batted an eye. It felt so physical i have no idea how nobody noticed.

When you start to fall sleep your body tries to shut off movement of your muscles so that your brain doesn’t involuntary make you move around and do things while you’re dreaming (as dreaming is a very active state for the brain). Just before you are truly asleep your brain will ‘jerk’ the muscles it tried to shut off as a double check. If the muscles aren’t really shut off then that results in the jolt, a sensation similar to a split second of free fall.

As someone else already mentioned, caffeine and anxiety can make it harder for your brain to shut off the necessary muscles in those early stages of sleep. I would experience this very frequently in college, which led to me reading up on it as best I could. It’s been a few years, so I’m not sure I could find the exact sources again, but I believe the wikipedia page on Hypnotic Jerk had some good information.

Try a military sleeping method. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and breathe out for 8 seconds. Do this continuously with your eyes closed until you feel as if you’re asleep. Before I had tried this, I had never experienced falling asleep either so I hope that this helps!

It feels like a big huge spasm that wakes you up and feels like it breaks your state of consciousness (or lack thereof)


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