A hypnic jerk, also known as a hypnagogic jerk or a sleep start, is an uncontrolled jerk of muscles that takes place when a person is starting to fall asleep, i.e. the hypnogogic state. This state is when a person moves from awareness into unconsciousness.
Usually, 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?
Particularly, 70 percent of people experience hypnic jerk every so often and the precise reason for this phenomenon hasn’t been found yet. However, the following factors might have an influence:
- Exhaustion and fatigue
- Sleep deprivation
- Hard workout few hours prior to bedtime
- Unpleasant sleeping position
One theory implies that hypnic jerks happen as the nervous system slows down and unwinds while moving from being awake to sleep. At this moment, the breathing slows down, the body temperature level reduces, and the muscles relax. During this process, the nerves might send out signals improperly and therefore cause muscle spasms.
Additionally, another theory claims that the brain gets confused in some cases during the relaxation process before sleeping. Thus, it might send out 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 And How To Do It?
As it was already mentioned, hypnic jerk is a common event that occurs to most people. Unfortunately, you cannot make this jerk disappear completely and permanently. Still, you can take some safety measures relating to 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 exercising late at night
- Increase the intake of magnesium and calcium, due to the fact that they are beneficial for muscle and nerve convulsion
- Make sure you remain in a comfortable position, and that you have a comfortable mattress and pillow;
- Introduce some relaxation exercises for sleep in order to reduce stress and anxiety.