Startled Awake

     Is there a name for that falling feeling you have sometimes when you’re falling asleep?  As you lose consciousness–that queer, vivid sensation of freefall which startles you awake?  It happened to me twice last night.  Weirdest damn thing.  It’s got to happen to everyone—I’ve seen people startle awake and animals too.  There must be a physiological explanation for it.
     Let’s consult the Holy Sacred Oracle of our day, the Google.  God bless the internet.  How did people ever live without it? 
      Hmmm…my results suggest that the falling sensation is called Hypnic Jerk: “A hypnic jerk, hypnagogic jerk, sleep start, or night start, is an involuntary myoclonic twitch which occurs during hypnagogia, just as a person is beginning to fall asleep, often causing them to awaken suddenly.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnic_jerk
     The English idiom “to fall asleep” is very apt.  I like it.  I wonder how other languages describe falling asleep.  The only one I know is German: entshlafen, which, I think, means more like “to pass.” 

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