AHHH I'm Falling Help Help! Oh...I Guess I Was Just Dreaming


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It's something that most of us have probably experienced. It can be the most terrifying, confusing feeling and there's really nothing you can do to stop it from happening. What is this "it" thing I'm talking about? "It" is that feeling of falling while you're just about to be asleep and then WHAM your entire body twitches and wakes you up. For a second or two you are confused and baffled as to where you are and what you're doing, then you realize you are safely in your bed and in no danger of falling to your death. You roll over and try to fall back to sleep, hoping you don't experience that kind of fear again. These full body twitches you experience as you try to fall asleep are unpredictable and are just as terrifying the tenth time it's happen to you as it was the first time. So why do our body's do this to us? According to Dr. William Kohler, this sensation is referred to as sleep starts or hypnic jerks. What is the difference between these two? Sleep starts occur when you're falling sleep, while hypnic jerks are myoclonic twitches.   Explaining this feeling is difficult to do, but Dr. Kohler does it well, "It involves a total body experience where your muscle contracts therefore your limbs jerk and your body twitches."
Researchers and studies show that these full body twitches are due to something called rapid eye movement or REM. REM's don't play a role when it comes down to hypnic jerks, but most of the time REMs are the reason behind that feeling of falling to your death. Researchers also think that these jerks and twitches may be amplified if a person's level of anxiety or stress is high.
For those of you who have been unlucky enough to experience these know that the most harm they cause is disturbing your sleep and creating a millisecond moment of panic. To read some more about these alarming twitches click here. And if any of you can find any remedies or tricks to prevent this from happening let me know, I know my sleeping schedule would greatly appreciate it. 

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Photo courtesy of wiseGEEK.

3 Comments

I know exactly that feeling. I have experienced this many many many times, and the worst is when I fall asleep in class and as soon as I get that feeling I pretty much jump off my chair and grab any ledge that's near. Its always the most embarrassing moment when you're listening to a quiet lecture and all of a sudden a huge noise is made by you and the entire class looks at you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjyIGML79Gc

another explanation of why the feeling is there.

This happens to me way more than I think it should! I hate the feeling but I think I hate being woken up from my sleep more. Do you think that other than stress, there are other types of reasons as to why it could be happening? Also, is there any harm to come from these twitches? My Aunt told me that if you eat a spoonful of honey before you go to bed it will prevent it but I am pretty sure she made that one up.

Oh! I never stopped to think about the reason behind this phenomenon. Probably because I actually enjoy this sudden feeling of falling. It does not happen very often for me, but when it does, I usually burst out laughing. It just feels like a small roller coaster fall! Anyways, I'll try to figure out for myself what causes this for me whenever I next experience it. I am curious to know if it really is stress/anxiety induced.

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