No, that is not a really nasty guy who hypnotizes people. It is a technical term used to describe the feeling of falling one sometimes experiences at the moment one drifts into sleep. It often makes the person wake up again. I have not experienced it as kid, and even now it happens to me only rarely, when I am extremely exhausted at the time I finally get to go to bed.
But if you want to know more about this phenomenon and little that is known about its causes, head on to Pure Pedantry where Jake Young explains it.
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