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Old 07-09-2003, 05:02 PM
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The medical reasoning behind "The Sleeper Hold"

I'm sure you all have heard of it. The Sleeper Hold, where you grab someone from behind, put your arm around their neck (their chin is at your elbow) and momentarily squeeze, then WUP! they pass out.

How does this work? I've heard cockamamy explanations, that the Hold momentarily cuts off the blood to your brain...

I doubt that, but does anyone know the dope on the Sleeper Hold?
Old 07-09-2003, 05:12 PM
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pretty much the cocamamy:
cuts off blood to the brain; more importantly, oxygen to the brain, causes loss of consciousness.

The sleeper hold is administered by standing behind the victim, wrapping the right arm around the neck, hooking the right hand to the left forearm and placing the left hand behind the head. The left hand applies pressure to the back of the head forcing the neck into the right forearm. the right hand reinforces the left forearm by pushing foreward sligtly.

This puts pressure on: the carotid artery, the jugular vein, and the throat cutting off both circulation and oxygen flow.
Old 07-09-2003, 05:18 PM
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First off, sleeper holds in WWF wrestling are obviously not "real." Ok. My father works in a position which required him to receive training in various forms of restraint (he actually received similar training as an MP in the United States Army), and has passed some knowledge of the subject on to me.

A forearm bone across the throat has the ability to pretty much completely close off a person's airway. A few seconds of this, and they head to sleepy-land, a short stop on their way to corpse-land if such an extreme hold is applied for too long. Note that the real hold requires the sturdiness of the actual forearm bones across the front of the throat, not the typical wrestling hold where their throat is placed in the bend of the elbow.
Old 07-09-2003, 05:20 PM
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A properly-applied sleeper hold shouldn't put pressure on the throat. that would make it a choke hold. therefore illegal. We all know no self-respecting wrestler would ever resort to breaking the rules and choking his opponent.

It's the pressure across the carotid artery that is supposed to cut off the blood supply to the brain, depriving the brain of oxygen.
Old 07-09-2003, 05:22 PM
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greck gave an excellent explanation of the precise proper hold, but do not try this at home, as it is very dangerous.
Old 07-09-2003, 05:24 PM
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so the cockamamy proves valid..?
Old 07-09-2003, 05:36 PM
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Yes. There are two holds described here: the Carotid Restraint hold and the Arm-Bar Choke hold. The latter is a Troub describes; this has caused many deaths in police custody before being replaced by the Carotid Restraint hold. This hold is done as described by greck; it cuts off flow in the carotid artery, but I doubt that it affects the jugular vein, and I doubt that that would make much difference anyway. Most importantly, it does not block the airway as the choke hold does.

And that's "cockamamie."
Old 07-09-2003, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by troub
First off, sleeper holds in WWF wrestling are obviously not "real."
Old 07-09-2003, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nametag
Yes. There are two holds described here: the Carotid Restraint hold and the Arm-Bar Choke hold. The latter is a Troub describes; this has caused many deaths in police custody before being replaced by the Carotid Restraint hold. This hold is done as described by greck; it cuts off flow in the carotid artery, but I doubt that it affects the jugular vein, and I doubt that that would make much difference anyway.
Actually, according to the book Suicide and Attempted Suicide by Geo Stone, it takes 7-11 pounds of pressure to collapse the carotid arteries and only 4.5 pounds of pressure to collapse the jugular veins, so I would think that any hold strong enough to cut off blood flow to the brain via the carotid arteries would also block blood flow OUT of the brain via the jugular veins. Not that it makes much difference to the efficacy of the hold ... I'm just nitpicking.
Old 07-09-2003, 06:20 PM
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The cockamamy explanation isnít quite right. A properly sleeper hold works far too fast to be the result of cutting blood flow to the brain and the resulting restriction of oxygen supply. That would take 30 seconds+ to produce unconsciousness on its own and would be hideously uncomfortable as anyone who has been choked will tell you. It would also produce minor brain damage every time it were applied. A properly applied sleeper hold will cause unconsciousness in under 2 seconds if done properly and is quite painless. Itís not something Iíd do for kicks, but I have had it done to me and it really is painless.


The deepest carotid arteries contains a large amount of what is essentially empty spaces, the carotid sinuses, which surrounds the carotid artery and allows the neck to turn without tearing anything. Within the sinuses are blood pressure receptors designed to stop blood pressure to the brain getting too high and blowing out blood vessels or so low that the brain is oxygen deprived. While blood pressure remains at the right level high the receptors are happy. When blood pressures gets to high the receptors stretch and send impulses to the brain telling it to slow heart rate as well as flushing blood to the peripheral areas to relieve brain pressure. It also encourages the owner to stop working the muscles by asking then to lie down. The receptors also work when blood pressures drops suddenly but in this case blood is shunted to the brain from the periphery and the Ďlie downí effect drops the brain to below the level of the heart. . In practical terms this results in giddiness and fainting. Try lying down and relaxing for a while and then standing up rapidly. Most people feel giddy due to the rapid blood pressure drop in the carotid sinuses. In some people actual fainting results.

The sleeper hold mimics the effects of elevated blood pressure. The baroreceptors are stretched by the external pressure and fire off a signal telling the brain to reduce heart rate and shunt blood to the limbs. It also stimulates a fainting response in the brain and the person passes out well before any lack of blood/oxygen to the brain occurs.

So although itís more or less true to say that it works by cutting blood flow to the brain, the sleeper hold actually works by fooling the brainís own defence mechanism into causing it to shut down. This is much faster and far less damaging than actually depriving the brain of oxygen.
Old 07-10-2003, 02:45 AM
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I believe the pro wrestling sleeper hold fairly closely resembles the BJJ rear naked choke. Many other real fighting styles use it and have their own names for it and the many variations. In the end choke holds all accomplish the same goal, the difference is just how fast and how hard for both the aggressor and the victim. There's lots of web pages on how chokes in general work, like this one. Even though I haven't seen a sleeper hold work in pro-wrestling since I was a child...

(it must have been written into policy now now that there's always a 2 count, then almost a third followed by shaking that arm like a caffeine addict, up, two elbows to the gut, then off the ropes to continue the match... ok thus ends my pro-wrestling tyrade ),

... the real version is very effective. Here's a pic of a guy who should know a thing or two about how to apply a proper choke hold doing his thing (the japanese guy is out).
Old 07-10-2003, 09:24 AM
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I study BJJ and I've learned both ways of doing the sleeper hold as mentioned above, one with the forearm across the throat and the one with the crook of the arm in front of the throat. The former does a choke (air cutoff) while the latter is better termed a strangle (blood cutoff).

The former as mentioned above takes longer to take someone out and is more dangerous. The latter is much quicker and relatively safer.

The reason Blake mentioned is interesting. I didn't know that was the true reason the strangle version was more effective, but from experience, it definitely works better and faster...hehe I definitely know to tap out quick when I get caught. I've seen a few people in my class "lights out" really quick from rear naked and guillotine chokes.
Old 07-10-2003, 09:28 AM
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There is also another similar rasslin' hold, the "Cobra Clutch," although the Japanese experts called it something like the "shenin no maki." In this hold, one agressor arm is under the chin, lifting upwards, thus "separating the neck vertebrae." The victim goes limp almost immediately (unless it's a headliner).
Old 07-10-2003, 10:02 AM
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Gah. Good call, Blake -- I can't believe I typed all that, and didn't think of the carotid response.
Old 08-12-2015, 05:06 PM
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Thank you, Blake. You're absolutely right. The hold works because the nerves of the carotid sinuses which surround the base of the internal carotid arteries are sensitive to an increase in blood pressure. When they sense elevated blood pressure from constriction of the carotid arteries, they "tell" the body to drastically reduce blood pressure. This, in turn, causes the individual to pass out - similar to when you stand up quickly after you've been in a crouched position for some time. It doesn't take a whole lot of pressure to the sides of the neck to get results - I read somewhere it's about 5 pounds per square inch. And, if the hold is applied properly, you can quickly put an opponent "to sleep" - 3 to 5 seconds. Most of the videos I've seen are totally fake, and in others the guy is like trying to pop his opponent's head off. If your opponent is still fighting you after 8 or 10 seconds, you're doing something wrong.
Old 08-12-2015, 05:36 PM
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Gah! 12 years ago. I sounded like a kid!

A zombie kid.
Old 08-12-2015, 05:40 PM
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[old thread]

I've had this demonstrated on me, in part because I was skeptical it would work and also I was skeptical my buddy actually knew how to do it. He got positioned, gave me a 3,2,1 countdown and squeezed. Seems like I was in the tunnel almost immediately and tapped out of the hold, barely conscious, in about 4 or 5 seconds.

Wasn't this used as a form of sedation in ancient times? Seems like I heard that when reading something about making castratos.

Last edited by The Great Sun Jester; 08-12-2015 at 05:42 PM.
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