Medicine: A Dream of Falling

When falling asleep, a healthy person may experience an alarming jerk that brings him suddenly wide awake, often with the vivid impression of a frightening dream, e.g., one involving a fall. Many peopie ask their physicians about these jerks, get some such explanation as, "It's your muscles relaxing suddenly as you unwind." This explanation sometimes helps, but it makes no scientific sense. The fact is, medical science knows little about the phenomenon.

Brain Researcher Ian Oswald of Oxford University's Institute of Experimental Psychology got interested in it while running sleep experiments. His volunteers were plastered with electrodes for electrocardiograph, breathing and brain-wave...

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