7 Bizarre things that happen to you while you sleep
According to multiple media outlets, we spend one third of our lives in bed, and as such it's pretty bizarre that we know relatively little about what goes on under the covers while we peacefully slumber away each night.
What many people aren't aware of is that a whopping 25 percent of the population suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. But whilst you've probably heard all about insomnia and the disturbing things that can arise from a bout of sleep paralysis, the majority of us are rather clueless about some of the other, lesser-known conditions that can plague us while we sleep.
Just take a gander at this list - you may even find that you've been afflicted by one yourself...
1. Sleep paralysis
While you may have heard about sleep paralysis, it's unlikely that you know the ins-and-outs of the disorder, unless you suffer from it yourself, which around one in 20 people do. Sufferers experience vivid hallucinations whilst falling asleep or waking up, leaving them completely unable to move.
Sleep paralysis occurs during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a stage which is usually associated with having vivid dreams. Whilst in REM sleep, our muscles are automatically paralysed, but for those who suffer from sleep paralysis, something goes a little wrong - the brain wakes up, but the body does not.
So those experiencing the condition will, to their confusion, be able to open their eyes and see what is going on, but be unable to move. In addition, their dream imagery can come through into their current reality, and this can be terrifying as people report seeing supernatural creatures whilst being wide awake.
2. Hypnagogic jerks
If you've ever had the sudden sensation that you're falling and woken up with a start while dozing off, chances are you've experienced a hypnagogic jerk. It's an involuntary spasm of the muscles, and is also known by other names, including, a hypnic jerk, sleep start, night start or a sleep twitch. While the cause of hypnagogic jerks are largely unknown, a popular theory harks back to primate ancestors, who could have sustained some serious injuries if they were to relax their muscles while they slept. I mean, falling out a tree looks like no fun, at all.
3. Exploding head syndrome
Similar to hypnagogic jerks, exploding head syndrome also normally occurs when the person in question is falling asleep or waking up. As they are falling asleep, they will hear loud, abrupt, "explosion"-like sounds which will rouse the person with a jolt. While it is often an explosive sound, people have reported being awakened by something that resembles fireworks, screams, doors slamming and cymbals. Some people even say that the jarring sound is accompanied by an equally hallucinatory visual flash.
Sleepwalking is when a person roams about or carries out activities while not fully awake. And in the majority of cases, it occurs when someone is in the deep stage of sleep. Like with sleep paralysis, the cause of sleepwalking is unknown, but it does appear to be genetic. It's also more common in children, with 20 per cent of children likely to sleepwalk at least once during their youth.
6. Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
Those who suffer from PLMD make unconscious repetitive movements, often in the lower limbs, at regular intervals, around every 20 to 40 seconds. These twitches can last from anywhere between several minutes and a few hours, and most people don't even know that they have PLMD until they're alerted to it by a partner. Like many other sleep disorders, the exact cause of the condition remains unknown, although, scientists are inclined to think that the nervous system has something to do with it. It's normally nothing to worry about, but it can sometimes cause fatigue during the day as it routinely interrupts sleep.
7. Recurring dreams
Recurring dreams are very common and can indicate that there is an unresolved issue in someone's life. When the recurring dream stops, it normally indicates that the conflict or problem has been resolved.
Well, there you have it. Have you been suffering from a sleep disorder this whole time and been perfectly unaware?