The human brain is so complex that we’ve never been 100% sure we understand everything about it. Even when they think they have the answer to something, researchers are still cautious about their findings. And this fact especially applies to the mystery that is the sleeping brain.
Sure, we have a measured understanding of sleep cycles thanks to fMRI scans, but we still don’t know why certain things happen. And when it comes to sleep syndromes and phenomena, the mystery deepens precisely because there are no set answers for why the sleeping brain works when it’s healthy.
Here are 11 mysterious sleep-related phenomena (some of which you probably didn’t know about):
1. Hypnagogic jerk. Before you start dreaming, your body is usually paralyzed so it doesn’t act out a dream. But on some occasions, you might start dreaming before your body is fully “unplugged.”
During a hypnagogic jerk, your body might react to a sudden movement like falling or tripping. Like with anything involving the complexities of the brain, researchers aren’t sure why this happens.
2. Sleep paralysis. For centuries, cultures around the world have tried to explain this phenomenon using supernatural answers. Basically, it happens when the mind wakes up during REM sleep (when the body is at its most relaxed, to the point of being paralyzed).
But researchers only know when it happens, not why. Today, it’s believed that one in four people will experience sleep paralysis. Symptoms include breathlessness, inability to move or speak, a sense of dread, and in some cases, hallucinations.
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