Most of the time sleep is a fairly normal and unexciting event. Every so often, however, your body and mind do strange things while you’re sleeping that may seem abnormal. According to sleep doctors they’re completely normal. Here are some of those seemingly freaky things explained:
1. Feeling Like You’re Falling
The technical term for this is hypnagogic jerk and most of us have probably experienced it at least once. When you dream your body is paralyzed. Sometimes, though, you start dreaming before your body fully shuts down. When you experience a hypnagogic jerk, you’re likely to act out tripping, falling off a cliff, or something similar. Researchers aren’t sure why it always seems to be falling but they have noticed it is most likely to occur when you are stressed, over tired, or sleep deprived. Your brain is so anxious to get into sleep cycle, it doesn’t give the body time to catch up.
2. Sleep Paralysis
This is essentially the exact opposite of a hypnagogic jerk. You wake up in the morning and you can’t move a muscle, which—let’s face it—is absolutely terrifying. This just occurs when your brain wakes up before your body and the paralysis that accompanies sleep hasn’t ended yet.
3. Sleep Talking
If you’ve ever been around someone who sleep-talks it can be incredibly entertaining; you just never know what’s going to come out of their mouth. About 5% of adults talk in their sleep and the talk sessions usually last for about 30 seconds. It usually happens in the early stages of sleep when the body has entered the dream cycle but still has enough muscle movement to produce sounds.
4. Recurring Dreams
Frequently, dreams are a way for your brain to process things before it stores them away as memories. A recurring dream may be the result of unresolved psychological issues that your brain is trying to deal with. Recurring dreams often reflect real-life events and can occur until you fully come to terms with the event in question.
5. Sleep Sex
If you’ve ever woken up mid-sex and you don’t remember initiating it, you are not alone. In a study of 800 people, 8% reported acts of sexsomnia—initiating sex with a partner while sleeping. Basically, you’re coming enough out of sleep that you can physically move, but your brain hasn’t woken up enough to make you fully conscious. It is more likely to occur if you dream about sex or go to bed with the urge.
6. Narrows Your Throat
While you sleep, your breathing changes and your throat narrows a bit due to the muscles relaxing. Snoring is frequently caused by the throat narrowing too much, although that is not the sole cause of it. If the airway closes completely, it can cause sleep apnea.
7. Grinding Your Teeth
Teeth clenching or grinding, called bruxism, happens to many people during sleep. It could be caused by stress or a misaligned jaw, but research has yet to determine why some people grind rarely or never, and some people grind to the point they crack their teeth and have sore jaw muscles.
8. Produces Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone, or hgH, helps bones, muscles, and tissues regenerate. This hormone is released during sleep, especially the deepest levels. It is thought to be prompted by low blood glucose levels that are present during sleep.
9. Slows Down Kidneys
Kidneys filter toxins out of the bloodstream to produce urine. When are you sleeping, the filtering action of the organs is slowed down so that less urine is produced. This is why many people can go the entire night’s sleep without having to use the bathroom and why the urine is generally darker when you first go in the morning.
10. Exploding Head Syndrome
Compared to other sleep occurrences, like sleep-talking, exploding head syndrome is fairly unusual. Much like the name implies, it is the strange experience of feeling like your head is exploding due to a loud noise, such as a bomb, gun firing, or cymbals. There is very little research on it as it is fairly rare, but it seems to cause a series of hypnic jerks, which are the weird leg jerks that sometimes occur when you’re first falling asleep. It is most commonly found in people over the age of 50 and is commonly associated with stress and fatigue.
This is defined as involuntary urination by a child over the age of 5 and is very common in younger children. One possible cause is maturational delay, meaning a child’s body has not yet caught up to being able to maintain bladder control through the night. Sometimes it’s just because the child is not woken up as easily and the sensation of having to go to the bathroom does not wake them up. Most kids outgrow it as they get older without any sort of intervention.