I like a good night’s sleep, but through the years I have experienced several strange things during my late hour reposes. And I never knew how common they were. Here we look at 7 of the most common, but bizarre, night time oddities that can strike to disturb your well-earned rest. So that next time, when someone asks you how your day was, you can truthfully reply: “less eventful than my night!” Because sleep is a wild place for your mind, where all kinds of odd things can happen, many of which we forget.
When you dream your body is paralyzed, meaning you have no control over your limbs and muscles, but your body carries on performing its automatic, necessary functions. Because your body is paralyzed your dreams are able to be very life like and you can move around and talk without affecting your body. However, when we fall asleep sometimes our brain is awake and our body asleep, or sometimes our body is awake and our brain asleep. Here are 7 consequences that arise from this mismatch known as parasomnia.
1. Exploding Head Syndrome
A very strange night affliction is the shocking ‘exploding head syndrome’, where suddenly you wake up feeling that you have experienced a loud noise, or a flash of light, or feel like your head is exploding. When you realize nothing has happened you (hopefully) will quickly fall back asleep. This happens when your body is not completely paralyzed and your senses are switched on. Just before you fall into a deep sleep you get this sudden rush, but it is absolutely fine, and not caused by any underlying problem.
2. Sleep Paralysis
Because our bodies are paralyzed while our brains dream, our thoughts are free to wander while we remain safely tucked in our beds. Occasionally however, things go awry and our brains wake up before our bodies. This leads to a terrifying paralysis, where we can move our eyes but nothing else. And because your breathing muscles are still frozen you feel as if you can’t control your breathing, which increases the panic. I was very pleased to learn that this is normal, since I am sure it has happened to me.
Most people know someone who is a notorious sleepwalker, which is one of those common sleep oddities that at once inspires laughter and fear. There is something ridiculous about a friend oblivious to everything going on around them, but also something strange and frightening about not being able to communicate with them. For the sleepwalker the experience is confusing, and they worry about what they get up to.
Sleepwalking happens when your brain is sleeping but your body is awake, the reverse of sleep paralysis. Common cited causes include tiredness and the use of certain sleep-aids, like Ambien.
4. That Falling Feeling
It seems this ‘hypnagogic jerk’ happens to virtually everyone on a regular basis. You are falling asleep when suddenly you get the shocking feeling that you are literally falling, perhaps from a tree or building (and your dream plays out the scenario for you before you wake a little and snap out of it).
Experts are undecided on the causes of the falling feeling. Usually dreams happen when our body is paralyzed, but sometimes when we are drowsy our bodies remain alert and react to our dreams. Some have speculated that the fall is a reflex, part of our evolutionary history when our remote ancestors lived and slept in lofty trees and needed to react quickly to a chance fall.
5. Sleep Talking
Sleep talking also delights and frights in equal measure. If we sleep beside one of the 5% of regular sleep talkers, it seems we can get an insight into their dreams, which is quite exciting. On the other hand, people are often full of secrets. They could say something they don’t want to say and we don’t want to hear.
Although your brain might be in sleep mode, the muscles that enable speech may still be awake. This means speech that seems to be only happening in your dream may be coming out of your real mouth into someone’s ears. Think about this if you are wondering whether you should reveal your secrets at the time of your own choosing!
6. Sleep Arousal
Arousal is a healthy part of everyone’s appetites and desires. And very occasionally (for about 8% of people) we can, although asleep, actually initiate relations without realizing. Often couples who have been together for a long time will find their sleep behavior to be markedly different to their normal behavior. Causes are hard to pin down, though it seems likely that erotic dreams may lead to this behavior.
7. Recurring Dreams
stuart anthony / flickr
I often have the feeling during a dream that I have been through this particular scenario before, at which point I start to doubt whether my experience is real and suspect I may be dreaming. For many though they cannot escape certain dreams, and they return to haunt them night after night.
Our dreams vividly help us reevaluate and process experiences and thoughts we have had, in order for them to become memories, to be stored and kept. Often, though, we experience things we can’t quite resolve. This could be a trauma which we have not fully reasoned out, and have tried to suppress. Perhaps the dream will replay itself, forcing us to confront it, until we have resolved it ourselves.