Dreams of Falling or Flying: Unraveling the Mystery

Why We Feel Like We’re Falling or Flying in Dreams

Huberman and Walker discuss the unique characteristics of REM sleep, where the brain paralyzes the body to allow for safe dreaming. This muscle atonia, or absence of muscle tone, is a defining feature of REM sleep.

During REM sleep, the brain is highly active, with some parts even more active than during wakefulness. This paradoxical state of an immobilized body and a fervent brain is sometimes called paradoxical sleep.

The absence of muscle tone and proprioception during REM sleep may contribute to dreams of flying or the sensation of missing clothing. The common phrase “falling asleep” might also originate from the progressive loss of proprioception as one enters sleep.

Walker notes that sleeping horizontally on a bed or sofa can result in a different sleep experience compared to sleeping upright in a chair or recliner, although factors like light, noise, and temperature can also influence sleep quality in various settings.

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