Have you ever woken up after having a dream of falling or with a “jerk awake” after a vivid sensation of rapidly falling down a cliff? As it turns out, you are not alone. About 40% of the respondents to IAC’s Online Survey reported falling sensation while sleeping at least once in their lifetime. And while the reaction to the experience can vary from thrilling to surprising to frightening, you can learn how to work with your non-physical bodies and turn this experience into a positive one.
What causes falling sensation while sleeping is the natural disengagement of the astral body (psychosoma) from the physical one, as a result of the relaxation achieved and the expansion of your energies. When we are awake, our energies keep us connected to the physical body, and as a result our bodies stay “aligned”.
Feeling of Falling while Sleeping: Understand what Happens
To understand the falling down feeling while sleeping, we need to understand what happens with us during our sleep cycle.
We also need to understand the difference between the sleep state and being lucid. Our physical body needs sleep. We, as consciousnesses (mind, soul, intelligent principle) do not need to sleep. The physical body may be awake or asleep. The consciousness, on the other hand, can be lucid or not, and have different levels of lucidity at different points of time.
When we combine both variables, we get some interesting results. Most people lose lucidity when their physical body goes to sleep. This is not something necessary however, it is only a force of habit that we have which makes us switch off lucidity as we are falling asleep. If you manage to stay lucid while your physical body goes to sleep, you will have an out-of-body experience (or astral projection).
When we take off with our astral body (psychosoma) during natural sleep, we usually float near the physical body. Most of us do not have lucidity while this is happening, in other words, we are unaware that we are out of the body and not in control of the experience. Since the astral body (psychosoma) does not have weight like the physical one, it tends to float out of the body. The separation of astral body from the psychosoma seems to be associated with the bioenergy recharge we receive from a good night of sleep.
The dream of falling and the sensation of falling while sleeping stems from regaining lucidity when you are floating outside the body.
Our brain normally tries to incorporate external sensations and stimuli into our dreams, especially when we are in the REM period close to the time when we wake up every day. For example, if the alarm clock goes off with a nice song, and you were driving a car in your dream, you may dream that you switched on the car’s radio, and that the same nice music started to play. This is something that happens so quickly that it can give the impression that the dream and the stimuli happened at the same time.
In regards to the dream of falling, the sensation of falling from a few dozen inches above your physical body may be the trigger for a dream of falling into a well, or stepping into an endless abyss.
Falling Feeling while Sleeping: Another Hypothesis
A more elaborated hypothesis involves the difficulty our brain has to differentiate falling from floating. This is why people inside those specialised windowless airplanes that go very high and then enter a free fall think they are floating. They are actually falling at the same speed as the airplane, but because there are no windows for them to see a reference that would indicate falling, instead they think they are floating inside the airplane.
In low lucidity conditions, the evaluation of our sensations can get fuzzy. Think of this scenario: you are floating outside of your body, during natural sleep, and recover just a bit of lucidity. At this level of awareness, it is just enough to feel the floating sensation, but not enough to wake up or to gain control of the experience. The fuzzy processing of the floating sensation can get translated into a falling sensation because falling is more likely to happen than floating in our waking experience. After that, your brain incorporates the mistaken falling sensation into a dream.
To get the answer for “what is the sudden falling sensation while sleeping” when that sensation is followed by a jerk awake, we also need to understand how the reconnection to the physical body happens when we wake up. When we wake up in the morning, we normally reconnect slowly to the physical body, as the psychosoma is gently attracted back to the physical body by our energies. If we wake up outside the body and reconnect suddenly, at once, the physical body rapidly integrates with the floating psychosoma, causing a jerk.
What You Can do About It
Since the sudden falling sensation during sleep is caused by the natural disconnection of the astral body, the best thing you can do to avoid this experience is to learn how to control the disconnection process.
If you practice relaxation exercises while laying down, you will gradually become comfortable with deeper levels of relaxation and the consequent expansion of your energies. If you relax deeply enough, you may reach a point where you start feeling a floating sensation, or where you barely feel your physical body anymore.
While it may sound counter-intuitive to produce the sensation that causes the free falling feeling while sleeping, the idea is to produce it at will, in a controlled way, so you feel comfortable with the sensation instead of being startled by it.
When you get to the point of deeper relaxation, you can also learn how to reconnect slowly by moving your fingers, just a little, and your toes, then moving your head, opening your eyes, while trying to be aware of the process of getting out of the relaxed state.
Working with your own non-physical energies (chi, prana) and developing better control over your energy body can help you in this process as well.