A hypnic jerk, also known as a hypnagogic jerk or a sleep start, is an involuntary twitch of muscles that occurs when a person is beginning to fall asleep, i.e. the hypnogogic state. This state is when a person moves from consciousness into unconsciousness.
Normally, people awake for a moment after experiencing a hypnic jerk with a falling or jolting sensation or something that resembles a jump.
Why Do Hypnic Jerk Happen?
Specifically, 70 percent of people experience hypnic jerk once in a while and the exact reason for this phenomenon hasn’t been found yet. Nevertheless, the following factors may have an influence:
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Sleep deprivation
- Hard workout few hours before bedtime
- Uncomfortable sleeping position
One theory implies that hypnic jerks occur as the nerve system slows down and relaxes while shifting from being awake to sleep. At this point, the breathing slows down, the body temperature reduces, and the muscles relax. During this procedure, the nerves might send signals improperly and therefore trigger muscle spasms.
Moreover, another theory claims that the brain gets confused sometimes during the relaxation process before sleeping. Thus, it may send signals to the arms and legs to move to an upright position due to the fact that the brain believes that you’re falling.
Can You Stop Hypnic Jerks And How To Do It?
As it was already mentioned, hypnic jerk is a common occurrence that occurs to most people. Sadly, you cannot make this jerk disappear entirely and permanently. Still, you can take some precautions regarding the factors that can increase the chances of experiencing these jerks. Here’s what you can do:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least 3-4 hours before bedtime
- Avoid doing exercises late in the evening
- Increase the intake of magnesium and calcium, due to the fact that they are helpful for muscle and nerve spasm
- Make sure you are in a comfortable position, and that you have a comfortable mattress and pillow
- Introduce some relaxation exercises for sleep in order to lower stress and anxiety