Why is it that when you’re sleepy and drifting off, any movement or disturbance can be so uncomfortable or almost painful?


I’m certain this isn’t just me. During the day when I haven’t gotten enough sleep, and I’m starting to nod off, if someone tries to get my attention or I try to move myself or really any disturbance I can sense, there’s a very unsettling feeling I get, like a mini, momentary adrenaline rush, that attempts to jolt me awake. Is there a name for this?

In: Biology

I never thought about it but you’re right. My cat tends to jump up on me as I’ve just drifted off and then I’m wide awake for another hour at least and that feeling of sleepiness is gone. It’s miserable and you’re right it does kinda hurt to start awake like that

There is a name for this that I once memorised for an exam and then immediately forgot. Sorry. But it definitely is a thing.

When you go to sleep, your brain “turns off” your motor centre and a lot of your peripheral nerves so that when you dream you don’t act out the motions of your dreams, and so that you don’t wake up with every slight sound or change in air pressure.

That moment when you’re switching to autopilot can get a little confusing for your brain on occasion. Sometimes, it will mistake the “turning off” of a limb for that limb literally dying, for instance – which is why now and again you get a huge twitch in one limb just as you’re drifting off.

If you’re suddenly dragged back to wakefulness, your sudden reanimation of all your nerves and things can feel very peculiar, especially if you were startled at the same time and have adrenaline released into your system. It’s not harmful, it’s just the sensation of your body waking up all at once.