If Your Body Suddenly Jerks While Falling Asleep, This Is What It Means

A hypnic jerk or a sleep start is an involuntary twitch in the arms, legs, or entire body. 

It occurs when the person is just about to fall asleep and suddenly wakes up. This state is called hypnogogic state when you move from  consciousness into unconsciousness. 

In this state, people experience a hypnic jerk or also known as falling. People usually describe this sensation as jumping. 

Why this jolting sensation occurs? 

To be more precise, 70 percent of people suffer from hypnic jerks from time to time. Medical experts haven’t discovered the cause of this condition yet, so they cannot explain what exactly happens. 

The following factors contribute to the occurrence of this condition:

  • Increased levels of stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • Smoking.
  • Caffeine.
  • Tiredness.
  • Lack of sleeping hours and not getting enough rest.
  • Exercising few hours before you go to sleep.
  • Improper sleeping position. 

There is a theory that hypnic jerks occur when the nervous system slows down and your muscles relax before sleeping. Then, you experience muscle spasms because of improper nerve signals. 

According to another theory, the brain can get confused while relaxing before sleeping. So, in this state the brain thinks that you are falling, so it may send signals to the arms and legs to move to an upright position. 

Can you stop hypnic jerks and how to do it? 

Can you make hypnic jerk disappear completely and permanently? No, you can’t. But, you can reduce the chances of experiencing it. Just, follow these steps.

  • Avoid alcohol at least 3-4 hours before you go to sleep. 
  • Avoid caffeine at least 3 hours before you go to sleep.
  • Don’t workout before bed. 
  • Increase the intake of magnesium and calcium, because they strengthen your muscles and prevent muscle spasms. 
  • Make sure you use comfortable mattress and pillow. 
  • Engage yourself in relaxing activities like yoga or listening to music. 
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