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7 weird things that can happen while you sleep
1. Feeling like you’re falling
Also known as a hypnagogic jerk, it tends to happen as you’re falling asleep.
Typically when you dream, your body is paralyzed, but sometimes you can start dreaming before your body is on “off” mode.
With hypnagogic jerks, you might act out a dream like falling off a cliff, falling from the sky, or tripping, says Dr W Christopher Winter, Men’s Health sleep advisor and medical director of the sleep centre at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Virginia.
Why the falling? Researchers aren’t sure. “It’s more likely to happen when you’re overtired, sleep-deprived or stressed,” Dr Winter says. “And your brain enters into sleep cycles more aggressively, but your body hasn’t caught up.”
2. Sleep paralysis
You start to wake up in the morning and realize you can’t move a muscle or speak. It can last from several seconds to several minutes, and it’s completely terrifying.
Essentially, it’s the opposite of what happens with hypnagogic jerks, where your brain wakes up before the paralysis that accompanies deep sleep goes away, Dr Winter says.
“You may feel like you can’t breathe. Many people describe it as an elephant sitting on their chest. That’s because all of the muscles that control your breathing except for the diaphragm are still paralyzed.”
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