Have you ever done this?

1.      Sleep on your arm until it goes numb.

2.      Wake up and realize you can't feel your arm.

3.      Try waking it up with the other arm.

I assume all of you have done those three things. It's the next step I wonder about. Do you then panic because you think this time the dead arm might be permanent?

I do.

In those first seconds, I'm always thinking some version of this: "Oh, no!!! This time is different. Now my arm is dead and it's never getting better. I'm a one-armed guy now. I'll have to start drawing left-handed. I wonder if anyone will notice my dead arm. Should I keep it in a sling so people know it doesn't work or should I ask my doctor to lop it off? If only I had rolled over even once during the night. But nooo, I have to sleep on my arm until it dies. That is so like me. What happens if I sleep on the other one tomorrow night? Can I learn to use a fork with my feet?"

Then at about the fifth second, some feeling returns to my arm and I experience hope. I also realize that if people could lose their arms after sleeping on them there wouldn't be many people left on earth with two good arms. Apparently the rational part of my mind wakes up last.

As full feeling returns to my arm I experience an emotion similar to how I imagine people with incurable diseases feel when someone unexpectedly invents a cure. It makes me happy to be alive. I want to buy a motorcycle, kiss a baby, donate to charity, and travel the world. Life is wonderful, for about a minute.

Then I realize I'm just a dumbass who thinks his arm is ruined every time he sleeps on it.

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Sep 19, 2013
I find sleep to be very fascinating. I have heard many stories of ppl being visited by aliens/demons who held them powerless to move when awoken mid night. I have never experienced this, but I am the deepest most vivid dreamer of anyone I know. I have done some reading on dream states and what happens when different centers of your brain shut down. Its very fascinating.

Personally I have never had any fear in relation to body losing sensation from sleeping. But when I take naps on sundays I always wake up with a dull aching pain, like someone cut off my arms/legs/body, and just barely reattached them. Its like my body was resting and was asked to come out of that rest at an inopportune moment. it doesnt want to be asked to move and is sluggish. my mind body connection never alters besides this.

I call those naps 'time vampire' cuz it is so restful and rejuvenating (vampire) and it feels like time passes instantly. its like my body feasts on time !$%*!$% every last bit from it, and it is so deep i can never remember any of my dreams.

sleep has many mysterious folds, but your arm falling asleep is the least interesting angle to take.
Sep 19, 2013
I woke up one morning and couldn't even FIND my arm! I've slept wrong before and made my arm go numb - but when I reached over this time my arm wasn't even there! I reached all up and down my side - no arm. I reached further out to the side. No arm. Up above my head? No arm. Just an armpit - no arm attached. There was enough light to see, but nope, I couldn't see an arm either.

I freaked out, but I could barely move myself. I wasn't in any pain, but I couldn't roll over. My legs worked, so I scooted myself off the side of the bed and stood up. That's when I found my arm, thankfully still attached, dangling uselessly at my side.

I'd managed to sleep on my back with my arm twisted around so it was completely under my neck, reaching out the wrong direction from my body - above my other arm. It's the kind of thing that'll make you queasy watching a contortionist do, and I'm not a contortionist. It took a long time for my arm to wake back up, and the pins and needles were excruciating.
Sep 18, 2013
Short answer: No. My rational brain wakes first, and my emotional brain wakes up much, much later, if at all. That's why I can jump up out of bed, react to most anything, know what's going, etc., while being able to say something honest, yet incredibly stupid and not comprehend why my wife is upset with what I just said. Then I put on my shame face and she can be happy and have a good day.

Then again, just being male explains the second half of that quite nicely.
Sep 18, 2013
Perhaps if we could sleep on our heads until they went numb, the feeling of joy and optimism upon the return of sensation would persist...at least until lunchtime. Imagine a world where everyone was filled to the brim with hope and filial love between the hours of 8 and 11.30 am. "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive."
Sep 17, 2013
For me, it's toes going numb. I have a whole list of diseases that run through my mind as I try to twitch them back to life.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 17, 2013
I experience the same feeling albeit in a different location when my wife finally decides to cave in to my advances. Wake up! Wake up!...
Sep 17, 2013
I don't ever worry that my arm won't ever work again, but I am exceedingly paranoid that blood clots could be forming in there, which will then travel up to my brain and kill me.
Sep 17, 2013
Instead of sleeping on mattresses perhaps we could slide into a high tech body suit with pneumatic cushions all over that would allow us to sleep on hard concrete and be perfectly comfortable. It could be computer controlled to make adjustments to the air cushions as we toss and turn. We could call it the Sleep Number Body Suit or perhaps the Wear-Ever-Bed.

I say this in good humor although I suppose this could be a DARPA project - imagine if soldiers had this. Also if it did real-time camouflage, and was a powered-armor body suit, and was made of graphene so it would be bulletproof, that would also be a plus. My guess is that hunters might also find a use for it. Who needs a tent if you can just wear everything you need to camp outdoors in any environment?

It's not entirely stupid either - I think materials technology will make this sort of thing possible. Although I don't think it will be practical until you can take a shower in it. But I suppose then it would be a more advanced version of the Dune stillsuit.

Many things may be possible in 20 years that sound silly now.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 17, 2013
So much for your career in the army!
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 17, 2013
Yes, it happens to me too, without being a long distance cyclist.
I have to say that it is a VERY strange feeling when I get out of the saddle and it starts to "wake up" again. Not really pleasant, not really unpleasant, just - strange.

Fortunately it happens immediately and is over after about 10min. If it stayed numb for days like you describe, I'd get really afraid!
Sep 17, 2013
Thanks Scott, You've cleared up a small mystery. About thirty years ago, my kid sister screamed and woke up in the middle of the night. I rushed into her room and she said, "There was somebody's hand on my shoulder." After finding nobody in the room, she said, "I guess, it must have been mine only" and went back to sleep.
I never really understood what must have happened, until now.
Now you've cracked the case.

On a personal note, one night long ago, I awoke in the middle of the night in bed and realised that I simply could not move; not even turn sides. Pushing against the bed with my arms, I somehow managed to flop over. Then I realised I could not even sit up. It was like I did not have any strength in my lower back. Again with my arms, I somehow pushed myself up and stood leaning on the bed for half a minute. Could not put any weight on my legs; could not stand; could not walk. It was about 2am. Did not know what to do. Should I shout and wake people up, or what? Ultimately I decided to simply fall back in bed and tackle the problem in the morning. I dropped into bed, and fell asleep dreading the approach of dawn..... Then when I woke up the next morning I was fine. It was like a bad dream and nothing more. This also happened decades earlier and there has been no sign of anything like it since.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 17, 2013
Male long-distance cyclists can experience the same effect in their...hmm, what word will make it past the cuss filter?...private member's area. The numbness can last for days, but there is no documented case of it being permanent.
But imagine the panic...
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 17, 2013
I actually developed my sleeping position specifically to avoid this out of fear of losing my arm, so this has only happened to me twice in the last decade. It's actually a pretty comfortable sleeping position, although probably wouldn't work if there was someone else in the bed. Although for some strange reason that has never come up.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 17, 2013
haha! I've woken up with no sensation and a cold arm on top of my belly. I can't tell what that weight is, so i touch it with my other arm and it obviously belongs to SOMEONE ELSE! Until i roll over and the dead arm won't roll with me. That's when I feel like a fool.
Sep 17, 2013
No. You are dumber than I thought.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 16, 2013
There is a real condition colloquially called Saturday night palsy. This is when you do not wake from the discomfort (as in step 2) and the effect, or part of the effect becomes permanent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radial_neuropathy

It gets its name from being a thing that usually happens when you are too drunk or medicated for the discomfort of the dead arm to wake you up. Presents more on the weekend, hence the name.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 16, 2013
The official term for what you described is "the stranger".
But it's achieved by sitting on your hand to numb it, you don't need to wait for the happy morning you wake up with a dead arm.

Sorry for the slow reply, I'm typing with one hand.
Sep 16, 2013
I once woke up to *both* arms being numb. That was an interesting experience, trying to turn myself over so I could get blood back in the arms.
Sep 16, 2013
I hate waking up to that.
Sep 16, 2013
Wait! I seem to remember that you had a problem with your right arm that made you have to learn how to draw with your left hand. Did that problem go away? Are you drawing right-handed now? Did I misunderstand about you using your left hand?

Simple solution: don't sleep on your arm. You're welcome.

[I had a focal dystonia (spasms from overuse) in my drawing hand some years ago. That problem was solved by moving away from drawing on paper. Now I draw directly to the computer using a Wacom Cintiq 24HD. I did briefly draw the strip left-handed, but it was slow going. -- Scott]
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