Hallucinations of movement

Mods not sure if this belongs here or not, please move if deemed appropriate.

I almost always spend part of the night sleeping in a recliner. Sometimes I have the strongest feeling of movement, like I was in a rocking chair or maybe as if the recliner itself were on an axle and rolling slowly toward my feet. Most of the perceived movement is toward my feet, although sometimes therre is a slow rocking back and fourth sensation. I find very convincing while it is occurring. During the event I am awake to reason out that I am in the chair and that the chair is not moving, so I do not think that it is an “edge of sleep thing”.

I reckon this is some sort of stimulus issue within the inner ear. Whenever it happens I have been sleeping laying down between 4 or 5 hours, I get up, use the restroom and lay in the recliner. So the I could see something along lines of your inner ear is used to the horizontal position and when I assume the more nearly upright position the nerves in the inner ear get confused."

So any Doper ever heard of this?

Are your eyes open at the time? What are you seeing? Many times when I lie down in bed and close my eyes, the entire room seems to be rolling onto its side. The only way I can stabilize everything is to open my eyes and look at something that’s not moving . . . something that’s light enough to see in the dark. Yeah, I suspect this is related to the inner ear.

In the same vein as what panache is talking about, I wonder if it’s the same phenomenon as when you’re reading in a parking lot and a car adjacent to you starts to move, and you feel like your car is actually rolling.

I don’t think it’s the same phenomenon, because in our case nothing is actually moving. But it feels like what you’re describing.

I have not only heard of it, I’ve experienced it, when lying flat in bed. Once in a while it involves a lovely sensation of flying, generally with my feet leading the way for some reason, but more often it is simply a sensation of rocking - head-to-toe, not like a cradle or a swinging hammock rocks - or of being gently pulled by my feet. As you say, I’m still awake enough to think about the sensation, and consciously enjoy it, yet I am clearly on my way towards sleep.

It’s a nice sensation.

To add to the anecdata, I sometimes (actually, quite regularly) experience something similar – seeming movement of my feet, knees and legs independently of their physically immobile state, though I don’t think it’s ever gone as far as flying.
I, too, am awake during this, and it is a pleasant feeling, in fact I used to seek it out before going to sleep when I was younger, ordering my legs to move without actually having them move.

Along the same lines, sometimes right before I fall asleep, I get the sensation that I am simultaneously growing and shrinking at the same time. Very hard to describe, but vaguely similar to the “dolly zoom” effect you see in movies sometimes. Doesn’t last more than 30 seconds or so, but it’s wild.

Also, when I close my eyes while sitting on airplane while it’s taxiing to the runway, I can manage to percieve the opposite motion to what’s actually happening; i.e. forward acceleration feels like backwards deceleration, etc., although strangely there’s a circular movement felt as well.

I can actually start rocking in a recliner without moving, in time with my heartbeat. I can see and feel small but distinct motion up and down. I assume it’s caused by blood pulsing through my arteries and veins, even though it seems to me that there shouldn’t be enough momentum change to lead to rocking. It’s weird, but I’ve noticed it numerous times.

I don’t think it’s the same phenomenon. Presumably you’re fully awake when driving the car, and that’s a case where your external perception conflicts with your internal knowledge of the situation. When there are two conflicting stories of what’s happening, it gets mighty uncomfortable between the ears. It’s a weird example of cognitive dissonance, not a breakdown of your internal monitoring.

I don’t think this rules out the possibility. Take, for instance, lucid dreaming, in which people are both hallucinating and conscious enough to reason out that they are dreaming. One thing to note is that your conscious analysis of the experiences, which comes from a different part (prefrontal cortex) of your brain than the area responsible for sensing this kind of movement (cerebellum), comes after the feeling of movement, meaning that even if the area of your brain responsible for consciously analyzing the situation is active, the part of your brain responsible for sensing movement may still be weakened and allow you to experience the hallucination.

This is a good article explaining what the OP is asking for, which notes:

Dopers one and all

Thank you


Man, that was a really long sentence I wrote. I hope everyone can parse it.

How about the sensation of spinning that comes when lying down after drinking (lots of) alcohol? Is that another manifestaion of this ‘perceived movement’?

I’ve occasionally, as I’m getting drowsy, experienced a sensation of spinning around an axis through my waist where the axis goes from hip to hip - i.e. as if my head were spinning toward where my feet were. This seems to be tied to my eyes having rolled up fairly high (like, pointed toward my eyebrows).

It actually feels kind of neat… the only downside is I actually start to feel nauseated as if I were actually moving. So when I find myself slipping into that sensation, I try to interrupt it by looking down and/or opening my eyes.

Also - I wonder if these phenomena might not be considered a sort of vertigo. The wiki link defines it as “the sensation of spinning or swaying while the body is actually stationary with respect to the surroundings”.