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Sleep twitches and night hiccups

I am fascinated by things we do when we’re alseep that we’re not aware of, mainly because I am a very heavy sleeper. Apart from an earthquake, you name and and I’ve probably slept through it. That means I don’t have the foggiest idea what’s actually happening to my body when I’m asleep and I’m therefore a prime target for practical jokes. You can play human buckaroo with me and I’ll guarantee you’ll win.

It’s not just the normal things I sleep through either. Yes, I frequently fall asleep with the telly on like most folk. I also sleep through thunderstorms; through the crashing and rumbling I will not stir. I slept through a burglar alarm once. And, most strangely, I sleep through bouts of my own hiccups. That’s right, I hiccup during the night, on average probably once every couple of months and it’s left up to my boyfriend who woke with a fright to gently wake me and make me stop. Why am I such a heavy sleeper? Well I have more sleep spindles than you, if you consider yourself a light sleeper. Sleep spindles are sessions of increased brain activity when you’re alseep and they serve to keep you relaxed. Everyone passes through the same stages of sleep every night but deeper sleepers will have more of these spindles.

Aside from the night hiccups that you probably won’t be familiar with, I bet you’ve come across a certain feeling when you’re falling asleep- you think you’re falling and your whole body jerks when you think you hit the bottom. That’s a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch, essentially a muscle spasm.  The general consensus is that as your muscles begin to relax, your brain senses these signals and misinterprets them believing you’re falling.  Signals are sent to your muscles to get you out of trouble. You’re not alseep when this happens, it’s a sleepy daydream you’re experiencing. And, if you so desire, you can replicate the same sensation when you’re awake. Do anything that makes you fall backwards; stand at the bottom of your bed and lean backwards or lean back on your chair past the point of no return. In both cases, your body will fight to keep you upright and you’ll experience the same hypnagogic myoclonic twitch as when you’re relaxed. Go on, try it!


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