Think sleep is peaceful, inactive, and quiet? Think again! Besides being a crucially important time for healing and recovery, sleep can be a stage for downright bizarre body behaviour. All kinds of wacky things can happen to your body while you sleep, even if you don’t consciously sense them or remember them the next morning.
Full body paralysis
Not to be confused with sleep paralysis—a terrifying subject we covered in an earlier post, paralysis is actually a regular part of sleep. During the rapid-eye-movement (REM phase), your body becomes temporarily paralyzed, probably to prevent you from acting out your dreams and hurting yourself!
Roughly 5 percent of people talk in their sleep, with about an equal split between men and women. If you’ve roomed with a sleep-talker before, you know that it can vary from quiet grumbling to full-on shouting… and most of the time, the sleep-talker won’t remember a thing! If you or someone you know talks in your sleep, it’s usually nothing to worry about, but if it’s interfering with sleep, a health professional may be able to intervene.
You know that feeling when you suddenly jolt awake, almost as if you’ve fallen into bed? This is a completely normal experience known as a "hypnic jerk." They can be very startling, but not to worry—this happens to everyone! The reason behind hypnic jerks is unclear, but some scientists think it’s because your body is confusing the feeling of falling asleep with just plain falling, and thus jerks you awake to try and keep you upright.
Making up stories
Okay, okay… everyone knows that dreams are a thing, but have you ever really thought about what dreaming is? It’s your body making up stories for you while you sleep! How cool is that? Here’s a beautiful quote on that note from Jonathan Gottschall: "We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”