Strange Sensation starting to fall asleep

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  • #1
sas3
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For as long as I can remember I have had this sensation (and before you ask, I am not smoking anything).
The feeling only occurs when I am in bed and starting to fall asleep, the only way to describe it is a strange feeling of big and small at the same time. It’s like a very tiny dust particle that seems to be as big as a mountain.
Sometimes it seems like a point of a pin with a massive amount of potential energy behind it. At times it can be very intense to the point where it scares me. Sounds seem to be louder and more intense also. I seem to get this feeling about 3 of 4 times a year

My http://img440.imageshack.us/img440/5016/chucket8.jpg" [Broken] is the only other person I know of who has experienced this feeling other than me, he describes it as a pebble that seems like an enormous rock.
I was just wondering if anyone has had the same sensation or if it has a name.
 
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  • #2
matthyaouw
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I know exactly what you mean. I've been getting it periodically for as long as I can remember, & I've never known quite how to describe it either. The size sensation is a part of it, but doesn't quite cover the scope of the feeling. I've never experienced the intense sounds though. I usually get it when falling asleep too, or when slightly 'out of it' when I'm ill.
 
  • #3
Moonbear
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I don't have any answers on this, so will just suggest some questions that might help point you in a good direction to find answers elsewhere.

Does it affect your ability to fall asleep? If so, you might want to look up information on sleep disorders and see if it is described there.

If you are already falling asleep, is it possible you are starting to dream? I'm thinking along the lines of daydreams, where you're somewhat awake, but mentally "drifting off," where you might experience perceptions that are part of the dream state while still partially awake to incorporate awareness of your surroundings as well.

Is it possible you are not awake at all at the time, but are rapidly awakened from a dream so that you think you were still awake when it happened? Here I'm thinking of those times when you fall asleep and dream/feel that you're falling out of bed and it startles you awake; it usually takes a bit of time to realize you were not falling out of bed and to calm yourself to fall back asleep again.
 
  • #4
matthyaouw
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I don't have any answers on this, so will just suggest some questions that might help point you in a good direction to find answers elsewhere.

Does it affect your ability to fall asleep? If so, you might want to look up information on sleep disorders and see if it is described there.

If you are already falling asleep, is it possible you are starting to dream? I'm thinking along the lines of daydreams, where you're somewhat awake, but mentally "drifting off," where you might experience perceptions that are part of the dream state while still partially awake to incorporate awareness of your surroundings as well.

Is it possible you are not awake at all at the time, but are rapidly awakened from a dream so that you think you were still awake when it happened? Here I'm thinking of those times when you fall asleep and dream/feel that you're falling out of bed and it startles you awake; it usually takes a bit of time to realize you were not falling out of bed and to calm yourself to fall back asleep again.

It doesn't really affect my ability to sleep. It could be dream related, but I'm not sure. I'm certain I've had it at times when fully awake. I once woke up with it (so perhaps that time it started in a dream) and couldn't shake it for about half an hour, even though I was awake and walking around.
 
  • #5
xiankai
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i used to have that too, it was more frequent when i was younger than now when im older. i felt like a tiny insignificant speck in a corner, and how everything is bearing down on me. i still recalled the time when i woke up late at night, yelling about how a train was about to crash through the wall, and frantically agitating my mom who tried to calm me down. i went to another room and hid under the bedsheets, staring at the ceiling while at the same time feeling crushed. mind you, i was quite young at that time, but i was fully awake at that time.
 
  • #6
verbasel
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I know the feeling you're talking about, and it happens only 3 or 4 times a year, and was more frequent when I was younger. My impression of it is that of an incredibly dense needle, that looks slim and tiny but has as much mass as a planet.
 
  • #7
sas3
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This is very interesting it seem like this is a common experience, I wonder if any papers have been written about this.
 
  • #8
matthyaouw
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I've tried googling it, but the question is what to search for? Everyone's explanation of it seems to be sligtly different and so far as I'm aware it doesn't have a name...
 
  • #9
J77
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I get this -- and can make it happen; ie. control it.

Like I've opened my mind up to a massive cavernous room -- which also feels small, like you describe.

It's cool :smile:
 
  • #10
matthyaouw
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Really? I always find it distinctly unsettling.
 
  • #11
J77
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Really? I always find it distinctly unsettling.
Nah -- I like the vastness.

I've always been a bit of a weird sleeper -- apparently I talk quite a bit and when younger had that thing where you wake up but are paralysed because you're still really asleep -- which is strange.

I'm also quite a detailed dreamer -- I pretty much always control my dreams and can rememeber them :smile:
 
  • #12
radou
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Hm, the only thing nearly close to the one you described is that just before I fall asleep some objects which are ~10 inches away seem like they're a mile away.

Btw, does anyone have an explanation for the typical experience before falling asleep - having a "pre-dream" of running and stumbling and then "waking up" instantly?
 
  • #13
sas3
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I had the sensation the other night, it only lasted a short time (a few minutes). I enjoy the sensation and wish I could make it happen like "J77".
 
  • #14
.ultimate
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According to my father's medical reference, You sniffed LSD 5-6 times in the past
 
  • #15
sas3
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Nope, Never took the LSD. (I watched other people do it)
Is there actuality an artical on it?
 
  • #16
.ultimate
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I do not completely apprenhend what you are trying to express, Can you state it more clearly?
 
  • #17
sas3
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I was asking about the article in father's medical reference book, If it is about the sensation we have been experiencing.

I would like to read it, what is the name of the book and what page is it on.
 
  • #18
.ultimate
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Here is the book

1. How to deal with psycopaths - Subhash kak
 
  • #19
Evo
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Btw, does anyone have an explanation for the typical experience before falling asleep - having a "pre-dream" of running and stumbling and then "waking up" instantly?
It's called "hypnic jerk".

http://www.discovery.com/area/skinnyon/skinnyon971114/skinnyon.html [Broken]
 
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  • #20
tehno
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It's called "hypnic jerk".

http://www.discovery.com/area/skinnyon/skinnyon971114/skinnyon.html [Broken]

Sometimes ,I just disregard "hypnic" part of the expression.
And what is left is quite common phenomenon before falling asleep...
:tongue: :blushing:
 
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  • #21
denverdoc
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this is likely an only partly understood phenomenon sometimes related to sleep paralysis and can be very terrifying events. I wish i could remember the researchers name who is looking into the sleep paralysis/hallucianatory aspects of it/ I'll do some googling here in a bit and see if I can find him.
 
  • #22
denverdoc
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look here--good page on these types of events;
http://www.dreamsnightmares.com/sleepparalysis.html

I believe its David bufford who i heard speak on the radio--talking about the archetypal images of old hags, demons, and incubii that sometimes accompany the suffocation types of events described here. For the purely hallucinatory events, these are hypnopompic and hypnogogic hallucinations for those unfamiliar with the terms.
 
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  • #23
russ_watters
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Just saw this thread....
I get this -- and can make it happen; ie. control it.

Like I've opened my mind up to a massive cavernous room -- which also feels small, like you describe.

It's cool :smile:
I get it too, but can't control it. I would describe it as the disconnecting of your brain from your body. I will occasionally be thinking about something while falling asleep and suddenly become aware that none of my senses are functioning, at which time I snap out of it and become fully conscious again.

I don't know how close it is to reality, but a sci-fi book I own called "Day of the Cheetah" describes harnessing the phenomena to open up a person's mind and enable it to control an airplane. We, of course, can't interface a computer with the brain directly, but the description of de-coupling the brain from the body sounds very similar to what I experience. It involves lying still to minimize external stimuli and entering a conscious state not unlike hypnosis, detatching the brain from the body without actually falling asleep.
denverdoc said:
this is likely an only partly understood phenomenon sometimes related to sleep paralysis and can be very terrifying events.
Perhaps. This happens to me when I'm falling asleep though, not when waking up. I've only experienced sleep paralysis once (actually just a few months ago when I wasn't sleeping well) and was fascinated, not scared, by it. It only lasted a few seconds and I remember thinking 'huh, so that's what sleep paralysis feels like'.
 
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  • #24
denverdoc
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Russ,
What you describe sounds very much like sleep paralysis. Basically its an evolutionary mechanism that basically chops the spinal cord in two, to prevent movement. It is confusing in that this is a normal event, but the same term is applied to the event you describe happening a few months ago. Most people are unaware of the disconnect.

(This is the guy I was thinking of Bufford.

Wrote a book called, The Terror That Comes in the Night)
 
  • #25
sas3
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I had the “Big/Small” feeling again last night and it was especially intense this time.
I figured I would resurrect this thread in hope of someone seeing it and finding out a name for the sensation.
This feeling is not “sleep paralysis” or "Night Terrors" I can sense and move my arms and legs.
 
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  • #26
zoobyshoe
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I had the “Big/Small” feeling again last night and it was especially intense this time.
I figured I would resurrect this thread in hope of someone seeing it and finding out a name for the sensation.
This feeling is not “sleep paralysis” or "Night Terrors" I can sense and move my arms and legs.
I used to have exactly the same thing as a kid now and then: big and little at the same time. I thought it was weird, but it also felt cool, and I would try to encourage it once it started, but that would wreck it.

Anyway, it can be related to Migraine Aura.

You may object that you don't get Migraines, but Migraine is actually a four part syndrome, and a person can have any of the four parts in the absence of the other:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=305792
As Mentor Evo attests in that thread, a person can have Migraine auras without ever having had a Migraine headache. (But maybe you have have the headaches at some other time.)


Here's a description from a Migraine site:
"Another time years later I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep, but I was having trouble relaxing, my mind was on a million things, work, etc. I closed my eyes and began a relaxation exercise, deep breathing, etc. I began to feel like I was growing outside the dimensions of the space I occupied. It's hard to describe. I could feel my physical body touching the sheets, pillow etc. and didn't feel like I was getting any bigger than the bed, but I had the distinct sensation of growing immensely huge at a very fast rate. At the same time, I began to feel like I was hurtling headfirst (I was lying on my back) through space at speeds faster than the speed of light. It was amazing and I can describe it as a sort of religious experience (although God didn't show up) kind of like the guy's trip at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The whole experience seemed to last a very long time but when I thought myself out of it by trying to figure out what was going on, I looked at the clock and it had only been a few minutes."

http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/e27891/e27265/e26585/e43013/e46075/index_en.html [Broken]

It seems to happen to people at any time, not just when lying down on the verge of sleep:

Macrosomatognosia

The phenomenon of macrosomatognosia is exemplified by the following observations, where the body image disturbance involves the entire body:

"Sometimes I feel 'REAL TALL' -- and I'm only five - two! I'll feel weird and tall, and walk into my kitchen and feel like my head is going to hit the ceiling and like I'm towering over the countertops. It's the craziest sensation. Would other people think we're all nuts??? Before you say I am, (or think it anyway - lol) I recently read something to this effect on a headache website and would have never believed it, had it not happened to me!"

Descriptions of other body-image disturbances during Migraine aura:

http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/e27891/e27265/e26585/e43013/e46067/index_en.html [Broken]

Sense of body position and location in space is processed in the parietal lobes of the brain so this is most likely some migraine activity in one or both of those lobes.
 
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  • #27
S_Happens
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I used to have this happen to me quite often as a child, although it wasn't exactly big/small for me. Typically it was a feeling of distances being vastly exaggerated. Like someone else mentioned previously, it was as if objects that were physically inches away seemed to be very far away and you could comprehend that the objects were BOTH very near and very far at the same time. I remember this as being very vivid and quite fascinating.

It was usually accompanied by a feeling I can only describe as "something like dirtyness," but that wasn't exactly it. I have tried to figure out a way to describe it for years, but still haven't been able to. The closest I can get is that it was similar to a feeling that the sheets/pillow/etc that I was touching had a "dirty" sensation, or some sort of repulsive sensation (not a physical force of repulsion, more of a "don't touch me"). I'm not now, and never have been, one who ever feels unclean in daily life (no compulsion to wash or clean myself or anything else), and although it's not exactly the feeling I experienced, it is also not something I've ever experienced when not in bed. This was the part that I really disliked. Sometimes it was a mere annoyance, but other times it was borderline terrifying.

Both of those sensations only occured when I was in bed and close to sleep. They occured while I was still awake and able to move. I could get the sensations to go away if I moved around, but they would return quickly.

I have only had it happen a handful of times since it was frequent as a child, but all of those times were after I had previously been thinking about the sensations, and none have been as vivid as the original occurances. This actually happened within the last two weeks, although the sensation was quite muted. I had been thinking about the sensations (probably not quite waxing nostalgic) and was trying to see if I could bring about the sensation intentionally. It was successful, but as I said, nothing as intense as it used to be.
 
  • #28
mXSCNT
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S_Happens, I have had the sensation of exaggerated distances as well, especially when tired. It happens infrequently now but it used to happen more frequently when I was a kid. Usually it happens when I'm reading, almost always when tired: the words on the page seem about a mile away, tiny, but at the same time I can make them out perfectly clearly. It has happened when reading on the computer as well, when tired.
 
  • #29
zoobyshoe
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"Dysmetropsia

The term dysmetropsia (Wilson, 1916) is used to denote a group of visual illusions involving an alteration in the apparent size and/or distance of visual objects. It comprises macropsia and micropsia (i.e. visual targets getting larger and smaller), pelopsia and teleopsia (objects appearing nearer and further away), and combinations of these illusions."

http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/e27891/e27265/e26585/e48971/e49032/index_en.html [Broken]
 
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  • #30
S_Happens
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My experiences were purely non-visual perception, just a "feeling." Opening my eyes, or moving my limbs/repositioning caused the sensation to cease momentarily.

I'll check out the links that Zooby posted later on, but for now I will state that I have never experienced the pain of a migraine, and only a handful of small headaches throughout my life (25 years).
 
  • #31
zoobyshoe
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My experiences were purely non-visual perception, just a "feeling." Opening my eyes, or moving my limbs/repositioning caused the sensation to cease momentarily.
OK, if it's not visual then you have exhausted my ability to find a name for it. I'll bet there is one somewhere though.

The parietal lobes of the brain are where spatial relationships are processed. According to Ramachandran (Phantoms In the Brain, 1998) various "maps" are held in the parietal lobes, and incoming stimuli is compared against these maps. It sounds like the non-visual aspects of your "map" of your immediate environment are being distorted during these episodes.

I'll check out the links that Zooby posted later on, but for now I will state that I have never experienced the pain of a migraine, and only a handful of small headaches throughout my life (25 years).
Migraine is a massive subject as I found out from reading Oliver Sacks' Migraine. He specialized in it, or, at least, took a special interest in the Migraine patients he treated (over 1200 of them), because he suffered from various Migraine aurae himself throughout his life, all without ever having had the Migraine headache.
 
  • #32
Moonbear
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It might be something as simple as starting to dream while nodding off to sleep. We had a discussion about an article quite some time ago, where the authors of a study had demonstrated that dreaming is NOT restricted to the REM stage as so many believed prior to that. So, it could be just a recurring dream when you're drifting in and out of sleep without really realizing you have nodded off for a few moments at a time.
 
  • #33
zoobyshoe
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look here--good page on these types of events;
http://www.dreamsnightmares.com/sleepparalysis.html

I believe its David bufford who i heard speak on the radio--talking about the archetypal images of old hags, demons, and incubii that sometimes accompany the suffocation types of events described here. For the purely hallucinatory events, these are hypnopompic and hypnogogic hallucinations for those unfamiliar with the terms.
I've had sleep paralysis four times. The first two times I was merely paralyzed. The third time I was paralyzed, and there was someone walking back and forth by the side of the bed bouncing a basketball.

The fourth time was totally terrifying: I woke up to find I couldn't move, and the reason I couldn't move was because I was lying (on my back) on top of a guy who had his arms around my chest physically holding me down on the bed. He was sniggering grotesquely in my left ear, amused by my struggles to break free of his grip. His cohort paced slowly back and forth at the foot of the bed. He looked like James Dean. He wore a trenchcoat and looked depressed.

This went on for maybe, 15 seconds, and suddenly, I don't know why, they both just vanished. I could move and was awake.

I was seriously unsettled for about three days after this. It was incredibly vivid.

There was no suffocation by this guy holding me down. His function as an hallucination seemed just to be to "explain" why I felt paralyzed and couldn't move. I have no idea what the other guy was there for.
 
  • #34
S_Happens
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It might be something as simple as starting to dream while nodding off to sleep. We had a discussion about an article quite some time ago, where the authors of a study had demonstrated that dreaming is NOT restricted to the REM stage as so many believed prior to that. So, it could be just a recurring dream when you're drifting in and out of sleep without really realizing you have nodded off for a few moments at a time.

I would be more inclined towards this, although the experiences were quite vivid and the notion of being completely awake went along with the strange sensations. Although I'm no expert on the different stages of sleep, I'm aware of them, and would tend to believe that this is not what it was. Although I am certainly not denying that it could be the case, I will say that it is some sort of minority, being that typically the first stages of sleep where you aren't aware of being asleep don't include (for me at least) present time awareness of any sensations, or the ability to actively move around to prevent said sensations.

Although the migraine links were very interesting, I wouldn't think it a likely cause as the condition only occured while trying to go to sleep, could be momentarily ceased with simple movement, and has been brought about more than once simple by thinking about the sensation itself. I would think some sort of early dream stage explanation (as Moonbear said) FAR more likely. Maybe it is some sort of proprioreception confusion. If I am completely motionless for an extended period of time (not experienced while laying down trying to sleep, but usually sitting say at a computer and reading for an extended period) I can lose my sense of propriorecption for whatever parts of the body have been completely still. It's hard to do since I move so much normally, but I work shift work and many times working nights I might sit at a computer for a long time reading articles. The proprioreception comes back immediately with the slightest intentional movement, and my proprioreception is phenomenal in daily activities, so I don't believe I suffer from any condition.
 
  • #35
zoobyshoe
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Although the migraine links were very interesting, I wouldn't think it a likely cause as the condition only occured while trying to go to sleep, could be momentarily ceased with simple movement, and has been brought about more than once simple by thinking about the sensation itself. I would think some sort of early dream stage explanation (as Moonbear said) FAR more likely. Maybe it is some sort of proprioreception confusion. If I am completely motionless for an extended period of time (not experienced while laying down trying to sleep, but usually sitting say at a computer and reading for an extended period) I can lose my sense of propriorecption for whatever parts of the body have been completely still. It's hard to do since I move so much normally, but I work shift work and many times working nights I might sit at a computer for a long time reading articles. The proprioreception comes back immediately with the slightest intentional movement, and my proprioreception is phenomenal in daily activities, so I don't believe I suffer from any condition.
It sounds like lack of motion is a prerequisite. I take it you can't bring the sensation about by thinking about it when you are in motion.
 

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