11 things that can happen when you're sleeping that seem weird but are actually normal
- Sleeping is a time for your body to recover from a hard day's work.
- While sleeping, it's not uncommon to experience seemingly weird things, like sleep talking or even sleep eating.
- Some people also experience sleep paralysis and some have dreams within dreams.
Sleep is a time for your body to enjoy some peace and quiet. It's also a time for your body and brain to heal itself from a day's hard work. But have you ever woken up to a roommate talking to themselves or worse, snoring louder than a freight train? Or maybe, you yourself have noticed some weird things upon waking up like being unable to move for a moment or being jerked awake by a hard fall in your dream.
These confusing and not so peaceful things can seem somewhat alarming. But rest assured, INSIDER spoke to several doctors to find out what weird things can happen during the night that are actually pretty normal.
You feel like you're falling.
You know that sensation you get when it feels like you're falling off of a ledge and suddenly, you're jerked awake? The official name for this is the hypnic jerk, according to Dr. Sujay Kansagra, Mattress Firm's sleep health expert.
According to Sleep.org, up to 70% of people experience them occasionally - but no one knows exactly what causes them. "Although no one is quite sure what causes it, it's considered a normal variation of sleep as long as it doesn't lead to insomnia," Dr. Kansagra said.
You get chatty.
"Sleep-talking is another common sleep occurrence and also occurs in two out of three adults," Dr. Kansagra told INSIDER. Whether you speak a random word here or there or have a full-on conversation, he said, it's considered normal.
Some people search for meaning in what their partner says during the night, but research suggests that sleep talking doesn't reflect actual memories or emotions - so don't get too upset if you hear something you don't like, he added.
You sleep eat.
"Just like some people sleepwalk, some people sleep eat," Dr. Kansagra told INSIDER, "This disorder is due to the brain being stuck in two different stages, deep sleep and awake - at the same time."
In this state, he explained, people can do all sorts of unusual things and be unaware that they are doing them.
You're temporarily paralysed.
Have you ever woken up and found that you were unable to move? You feel like you're completely stuck in your own body and can only manage to move your eyes. This is known as sleep paralysis.
"The cause is usually sleep deprivation, but in rare cases can be a sign of a sleep disorder like narcolepsy," Dr. Kansagra told INSIDER. "However, if this occurs while you are sleep deprived, and you have no sleep difficulties otherwise, it likely isn't something to worry about."
For most people, it usually only lasts for a few seconds, according to Dr. Kansagra, but can last longer and can be pretty scary.
You have the ability to control your dreams while sleeping.
Dreams can often trick you into believing that what you're experiencing is your reality, no matter how twisted and unbelievable the situation may seem once you've awoken. However, some people have the ability to acknowledge they're dreaming and can actually control parts of their dream, Dr. Kansagra said.
This is known as lucid dreaming and he assured INSIDER that it is completely normal.
Your body produces less urine when you sleep.
So that you don't have to pee all night, your body produces an anti-diuretic hormone during sleep, according to Alex Dimitriu, MD, double board-certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine. This hormone causes your kidneys to release less water, reducing the amount of urine produced.
When sleep is not deep or is disrupted, Dr. Dimitriu said, the anti-diuretic hormone is low.
You're a snorer.
"When we sleep, the muscles that hold our airways open relax. That means the areas in the back of our mouths and throats are not as wide as while we are awake," Dr. Kansagra said. "With this relaxation comes a narrower airway, and the turbulent airflow as we breathe can lead to snoring."
You get it on.
That's right, some people actually have sex when they're sleeping. Similar to sleep eating, Dr. Kansagra explained, this phenomenon occurs when the brain is half awake and half asleep and the person is often completely unaware of their actions.
This in-between stage can occur because there may be something that is gently waking the person and keeping them from deep sleep such as noise, pain, or even having to use the bathroom at night, Dr. Dimitriu explained. This leads to people who are half awake, half dreaming, and doing weird things in the middle of the night like sleep sex.
You groan and moan.
We've already mentioned snoring and sleep-talking, but moaning and groaning is another set of sounds some people make during sleep. Sleep doctors call this catathrenia, according to Dr. Kansagra, and the cause is often unknown.
Your body temperature falls.
"We also lose our ability to maintain body temperature at night and indeed, about two hours before waking, will hit the lowest body temperature of the day," Dr. Dimitriu said.
This is a normal thing for people, according to Dr. Kansagra. It also explains why keeping the room on the cooler side may help with sleep onset. The cooler temperature will help your body feel calmer and ready for sleep.
You have a dream within a dream.
Imagine you wake up from a dream, turn off your alarm, get out of bed, and then things start get weird - you start floating above ground and the mirror you're using appears to be moving.
Then, you wake up again to find yourself still in bed and back to reality. This phenomenon of having a dream within a dream does actually happen to some people and is totally normal, Dr. Kansagra told INSIDER.
According to Dream Studies, this is a "false awakening" and can be managed with a few cognitive tricks and practices.
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