Why do we have the feeling that we fall when we fall asleep?

Surely on more than one occasion you have had the feeling that you fell while lying in bed in the first moments of sleep. But why does this happen to us?

It is a sensation that, although it is not harmful to health, it is not pleasant. This phenomenon is known as hypnic jerk. It is a muscle contraction, mainly of the legs, which our body does involuntarily and unconsciously when we sleep, causing our limbs to shake and we have the sensation that we are falling. In some cases it can be accompanied by a visual hallucination.

It happens to 70% of people and it usually occurs in the early stages of sleep, when our brain is not 100% asleep yet and tries to keep us alert.

It is therefore an action caused by our brain to try to control our body in a waking state and the environment in which we find ourselves before we fall asleep completely, causing those spasms that make us feel like we are falling into emptiness.

It cannot be considered a serious sleep disorder, nor does it cause any harm to our health.

It tends to manifest itself more frequently in those who consume caffeine at night, who have trouble sleeping, anxiety, excessive tiredness, elevated stress levels, are very active or excited before sleeping or suffer from sleep deprivation, among others. In addition, there are those who point out that a lack of magnesium, calcium or iron can increase the chances of suffering these hypnic jerks.

The ideal for a good rest and to avoid this type of spasms is to rest in a quiet place, have rest patterns and lead a healthy lifestyle.

Have you ever fallen asleep standing up?

There are other theories regarding the hypnic jerk along this line, which indicates that it is a reflex action that our brain does to check the stability of our body position before entering the unconsciousness of the dream. Therefore, if you have ever fallen asleep standing up, do not worry because you will not fall, since our brain will react when noticing that it is not in the correct sleeping position.

Other hypotheses indicate that these spasms are due to the moment in which our brain goes from an active and volitional motor to a state of relaxation and, finally, to bodily paralysis.

In the event that these spasms occur very frequently or are annoying for a good rest, the doctor should be consulted since other types of problems such as sleep apneas, whose symptoms are similar, should be ruled out.