It doesn't happen anymore, but when I was younger I would often get strange sensations regarding scale that I never heard anyone else report.

There were two different flavors. One felt like the room and everything in it were both small and large at the same time. If I were to ask myself, "Do I feel like I'm small in a small room, or huge in a huge room?" I would say, "both, at the same time".

The other happened only in my mind. Roughly speaking, it was a kind of tactile sensation. It felt like I was sort of... "handling" an object, perhaps pencil-shaped, that was skinny and fat at the same time.

It happened most often when I was about to fall asleep, but it sometimes occurred in the middle of the day.

Is this sort of thing known and documented? Is there any sense to be made of it? I tried to search online but had no luck. What would I even search for?


The symptoms belong to the Alice-in-Wonderland Syndrome, which is supposed to be very common in childhood. An interesting article appeared in the New York Times.

|improve this answer|||||
  • $\begingroup$ That article is an interesting addition to this question. I personally have never had a problem with migraines. "[S]ufferers perceive their own body parts to be larger or smaller" is the more prominent effect when it happens to me. Just so people do not misinterpret me here, the perceived difference in size is often extreme, like the difference between a pencil and a tree trunk. $\endgroup$ – Michael Dec 20 '15 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ This is exactly what I'm talking about! The author says she found the answer online in minutes. How on earth did she do that? $\endgroup$ – MackTuesday Dec 21 '15 at 3:52

I too have experienced this sensation. I used to experience it quite often when I was younger, but I still experience it once in a blue moon. I have a friend who also sometimes experiences it. For me, it was not really the environment but rather that I felt I would become larger and smaller over several seconds, as if there were some sort of constriction followed by expansion going on (of far greater amplitude than breathing, for example). For years I had no hypothesis on the cause, but then I took a class on biopsychology, wherein I thoroughly studied the materials, including additional material. I now have a hypothesis on a possible cause: narcolepsy.

Since I was a child, I have experienced episodes of conscious sleep paralysis (during sleeping hours, not during the day), which I learned in biopsychology to be related to narcolepsy. My hypothesis is that these sensations of growing and shrinking are related to a very light case of narcolepsy or cataplexy. I had a friend once tell me of experiencing these sensations, whereafter I expressed that I too felt similar sensations at times. It so happens that this friend had a mother with official narcolepsy, which further supports this hypothesis.

I too would be interested to learn whether this sensation is related to cataplexy or narcolepsy.

|improve this answer|||||
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think I've ever had the slightest problem with cataplexy, but I might believe it's a very mild narcolepsy. I need a lot of sleep, and when I was younger I'd try to get by on 6 hours. I don't enter REM immediately, though, or it would have shown up in a couple of sleep tests I had. $\endgroup$ – MackTuesday Dec 20 '15 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't say I have cataplexy either. For me as well, if anything, it would be mild narcolepsy. Only occasionally do I enter REM (or sleep paralysis) immediately. Plus, this is only a hypothesis based on observations and a little bit of connecting the dots. I welcome competing hypotheses. $\endgroup$ – Michael Dec 20 '15 at 23:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.