10 Bizarre Things Your Body Does While You Sleep

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By: , – Robin Donovan, Health Writer
  :  25 comments   :  299,536 Views

We tend to think of sleep as restful, inactive and quiet. By while you're zoning out, your body is tuned in, doing everything from piecing together dreams to slowing down your kidneys--and much more that you might not expect!


  1. Paralyzes You
    REM, which stands for "rapid eye movement" is the deepest phase of sleep. When you vividly recall a dream, it likely occurred during a REM cycle. In REM stages, muscles in our arms and legs are temporarily paralyzed while we sleep.
    This paralysis is normal, and it's not same as sleep paralysis, which occurs for a few seconds or minutes after you awaken (or, rarely, just before you fall asleep). In this disorder, the normal paralysis that happens during sleep holds on for a few scary moments after you wake up. If you experience this, check with your physician; it could be a symptom of narcolepsy.
     
  2. Jerks You Awake
    It may feel like you're falling or it may feel like you've been jolted awake, but hypnic jerks (sometimes called hypnagogic jerks) are a natural and common part of falling asleep. This phenomenon causes your limbs to jerk, perhaps because your body is preparing for the changes that take place during sleep, or perhaps because your body misinterprets the signs of impending sleep as falling--and thus jerks you in a misguided effort to stay upright. Scientists don't agree on what exactly causes hypnic jerks, but they're typically harmless.
     
  3. Moves Your Eyes
    As you sleep, you experience five phases of sleep, with REM as the last and most active phase. Once you complete a REM cycle, you'll start the first phase anew. Seventy to 90 minutes after you fall asleep, you should be in REM sleep, and you'll spend about 20 percent of your time sleeping in this stage. During REM sleep, our eyes dart quickly back and forth, but we typically have no memory of this (other than memories of dreams that often happen in this phase).
     
  4. Produces Human Growth Hormone
    Human growth hormone, or hgH, helps muscles, bone and other tissues regenerate. The helpful hormone is released during sleep, especially its deepest stages, and is thought to be prompted by low blood glucose levels present during sleep, among other factors. So, there is some science behind the concept of beauty sleep!
     
  5. Narrows Your Throat
    As you sleep, your breathing changes and your throat naturally narrows a bit as your muscles relax. If you've experienced a partner who snores noisily, you know what it sounds like when the throat becomes a bit too narrow. (Of course, snoring can have many causes, including a stuffy nose or tonsil issues.) Worse, the airway can close completely, causing sleep apnea.
     
  6. Grinds Your Teeth
    Bruxism (teeth clenching or grinding) happens to many people during sleep. It may be exacerbated by stress or a misaligned jaw, but research hasn't pinpointed the reason that some people grind only rarely (or never), while others end up with cracked or worn teeth and sore jaw muscles.
     
  7. Slows Down Your Kidneys
    Kidneys normally function to filter toxins out of the bloodstream and to produce urine. As you sleep, the filtering action of these organs slows, so that less urine is produced. (That's the reason your urine is usually so dark the first time you pee in the morning.)
     
  8.  Makes Up Stories
    If you've awoken after a vivid dream, you know the vague unease of wondering if it was real--or why your mind produced that crazy mishmash of a story to begin with. Despite much research into dreaming and many hypotheses about why we dream and what dreams mean, the nuts and bolts of this everyday happening are still a mystery. Scientists have not yet figured out why we dream as we do, or found a proven process that would explain the content of our dreams.
     
  9. Creates an Explosion
    It's rare, but some people who experience exploding head syndrome hear a loud crash or bang, almost like a gunshot, just as they're drifting off to sleep. It's usually painless, but frightening, and tends to occur in adults over 50.
     
  10. Turns You into a Chatterbox
    It's more common in children than adults and in men than women, but talking in your sleep happens to about 5 percent of us. Dubbed "somniloquy," sleep talking is technically a sleep disorder, but may not bother you at all. In fact, you may not even realize you're doing it. Like dreaming, somniloquy has yet to be explained, and can occur in any stage of sleep. When you're sleeping lightly, your words will be easier to hear, and vice versa. Talking in your sleep can be sparked by episodes of stress, depression and illness, or occur alongside other sleep issues, such as sleep apnea.


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Comments

  • 25
    not too sure about the kidney slowing down I am always awakened to the need to pee then most of the time I am awaken...sometimes I can fall back to sleep. Night sweat and hot fleshes was left out too that will wake you up - 11/5/2016   9:10:23 PM
  • 24
    I was so happy to read about the exploding head thing. This has happened to me at I was afraid it had something to do with a blood clot or something scary like that. It's only happened to me 4 or 5 times in my life, even when I was younger but once you have one you never forget it. The first time it happened I thought a building or something blew up and I kept waiting for the the fire truck sirens. LOL now but it wasn't funny then. - 5/29/2016   8:39:00 AM
  • 23
    I also fell out of my queen size bed, and into a bedside stand. I had to have stitches in my forehead! My Friend she would engineer a bed belt for me so it couldn't occur again. lol - 5/28/2016   10:18:59 PM
  • 22
    I don't know how common this is but I dreamt I was falling out of bed recently only to find out I REALLY had.This only happened one time only - once was more than enough. - 5/28/2016   9:34:36 PM
  • 21
    I don't know if it's exploding head syndrome, but I sometimes feel something like a zap of electricity that shoots through my head, usually just below my ears. Not painful, but it does usually make me startle. - 5/28/2016   3:49:20 PM
  • 20
    I'd been wondering that about the pee thing. Good to know! - 5/28/2016   5:32:11 AM
  • 19
    Exploding head syndrome runs in my family. My mother, my daughter and I all have it. The funniest thing, though, is that whenever I get angry or stressed I always say my head is going to explode. Maybe it's a leftover from my day? lol - 5/28/2016   12:31:13 AM
  • 18
    This was vert informative. When I was working, I used to talk in my sleep a great deal (due to the stress). Now I sleep (however lightly) and hear every noise. Sometimes I do hear a bang like something dropped and jump up to the ceiling (or so it seems) LOL. I also snore if I don't have a wedge under my head. Hmmm.. - 1/23/2016   8:52:02 PM
  • 17
    I just found out the name for the thing that happens to me is called exploding head syndrome. I don't know if this is comforting or even more alarming. - 1/23/2016   11:33:31 AM
  • 16
    Also, your gut stops or slows right down. Many people (me included) have to get up to pee in the night, but you never have to get up for a crap - 1/23/2016   3:41:40 AM
  • RASCALDANCER
    15
    I have several different and uncommon Complex Sleep Disorders, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (narrow windpipe), Central Sleep Apnea (my brain forgets to tell me to breathe), EDS (excessive daytime sleepiness, caused by the combination of my sleep disorders), Non-REM Narcolepsy (a sleep pattern disturbance), Restless Legs & Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, Bruxism (severe, have had to have most of my teeth repaired and have worn a thick bite appliance for 20 years). One of the hardest things in the world is to have to go on disability from a job I loved, wonderful co-workers that I still keep in touch with after 10 years, and try to come to terms with all the problems that are caused by my sleep disorders. I could be a billboard of how the sleep deficit affects a person's health. My fatigue is extremely severe if I have to do several things in a day, go to the doctor, get groceries, shop for other things. It takes me several days to recoup the energy from one busy day, I may have to sleep about 16 hours for 2 - 3 days to get back to what is "normal" for me. The best way to explain it is, I have an energy bank and If I use that energy I have to "deposit" more before I can do other things. I have to plan ahead if I know I've got to do something to make sure I can function. I rarely drive anymore, I sleep with a CPAP so I don't have a stroke or heart attack while I'm asleep. It doesn't make me feel better like it does other people but I do wake up in the morning alive. My husband makes sure my arms, hands, and legs are far enough away that he doesn't get hit all night from the movements I am unaware that I do (the majority of the time). He did tell me this past Saturday night I spent a good part of it sitting up and laughing which is a new one for me, I usually just talk and move. My first sleep study in 2000 I quit breathing 396 times in almost 7 hours of sleep. My oxygen level would drop to the low 70's so I have some permanent brain damage from the lack of oxygen that effects my memory, learning deficits, mood, and of course my energy level. It was very hard going from a person that was an A+er to a possible D now. But sleep research is fascinating, and I actually diagnosed 3 of my disorders myself from researching the internet news. I also changed dr.'s after he did other tests than just the regular sleep study because evidently he didn't listen well when I kept telling him something other than sleep apnea was going on. - 1/21/2016   12:54:28 AM
  • 14
    #11. Your body hogs all of the blankets - 11/10/2015   7:15:37 PM
  • WESJGEIER
    13
    Really good article. I am a sleeptalker (hubby and daughter get a kick out of it!) and it was interesting to see the commonalities of people who sleep chatter. - 9/20/2015   1:45:33 PM
  • KOLBOLTQUEEN
    12
    that is interesting - 6/9/2015   1:51:05 PM
  • STILLSALLY
    11
    very interesting - 3/26/2015   10:33:39 PM
  • 10
    interesting article. i knew about a few of them but the exploding head syndrome is WOW! - 8/3/2014   6:17:32 PM
  • GRUBERJ5
    9
    You left out sleep walking. I used to do that a lot when I was younger and would wake up in some strange places (like our back porch!) - 5/8/2014   3:18:38 PM
  • 8
    I have weird out of body dreams. Very disturbing and causes me a lot of stress the next day. - 5/7/2014   9:08:45 PM
  • 7
    I have never heard of hypnic jerks before, but I had to laugh remembering an experience I had with one. Of course I've jerked awake just before falling over a bridge or something in dreams many times over the years. But several years ago I was in the hospital for a week after a surgery and one night shortly after falling asleep I jerked awake a couple times just after falling asleep. I'm not sure why he came in, but a young male nurse came into my room and I told him about it. The other young male nurse on duty must have heard us talking and came in. I think they were bored, so they kind of leaned back against the wall to chat for a minute. The explanation one of them gave was that I was having an out of body experience! I know he was kidding, but he continued to embelish his story a little and we all had a good laugh. - 5/7/2014   8:37:44 PM
  • 6
    Wow, exploding head syndrome... who knew?! - 5/7/2014   2:51:30 PM
  • 5
    What then does your body do , say if you have Sleep Apnea, restless leg syndrome and other disorders. I know I must be moving when I have restless leg syndrome so how is this possible for me when I am suppose to be paralyzed all that time ?? - 1/30/2014   6:03:40 PM
  • DELLMEL
    4
    Great blog. I don't like alot of cover on me. - 10/30/2013   11:24:27 PM
  • 3
    Already knew about temperature dropping, I get this even when I 'snooze'. I say snooze n not nap as my body gets too hyped if I try to do a power nap n then it just doesn't happen n if it does it's just easier to acknowledge 1-2 hrs are going to go missing n I absolutely have to have covers over my legs at least or when I wake I'm shivering - even in summer - 10/30/2013   5:36:03 AM
  • 2
    More motivation for me to get enough sleep. - 10/28/2013   11:05:05 PM
  • 1
    There is a lot of interesting research happening around sleep right now. I find what happens in our bodies and brains when we sleep to be very fascinating. Two books that goes into detail about sleep that you might find interesting are Dreamland by David K. Randall and The Secret World of Sleep by Penelope A. Lewis. - 10/28/2013   4:21:35 PM

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