Friday, 18 November 2016

Hypnic Jerk: Why You Get The Feeling of Falling In Your Dreams and Wake up with a Jolt or Twitch.

Hypnic jerk: feeling of falling in your sleep

Have you ever wondered why you get the feeling of falling in your sleep? Yes, I've had them too. A hypnic jerk or sleep twitch is an involuntary muscle twitch which occurs just as a person is beginning to fall asleep. often causing him or her to awaken suddenly for a moment.

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Have you ever been jolted awake by the sensation of falling, just as you were drifting off to sleep? If so, you’re not weird or crazy. These involuntary muscle twitches in the arms, legs or entire body are called hypnic Jerks. Sudden jerking motions of the legs or whole body occurring at the moment of falling asleep, and they’re very common. Up to 70 percent of people experience them occasionally—but no one knew exactly what caused them... Well, now we do.
I don't know about you, but this happens to me a lot. Most often, I find myself either falling off a cliff after carelessly stepping on a banana peel or I'm suddenly attacked by a creature that looks a lot like something that crawled out of Resident Evil. Hypnic jerks are associated with a rapid heartbeat, quickened breathing, sweat, and sometimes "a peculiar sensory feeling of 'shock' or 'falling into the void.' A higher occurrence is reported in people with irregular sleep schedules.

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Hypnic jerk: feeling of falling in your sleep
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Hypnic Jerk Causes

Physically, hypnic jerks resemble the "jump" experienced by a person when startled, often accompanied by a falling sensation. A higher occurrence is reported in people with irregular sleep schedules. A Hypnic Jerk, also known as a ‘Hypnagogic Jerk’, a ‘Sleep Start’ and a ‘Night Start’ – is an involuntary twitch which happens during hypnagogia. This is the stage just as a person is about to fall asleep and it often causes them to suddenly wake up for a moment. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, there is a lot of potential causes as to why this happens, these include anxiety, caffeine, stress and strenuous activities in the evening.

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‘Hypnic Jerks’ are more frequent in childhood with 4-7 per hour at the age ranging from 8 to 12 years old, and it decreases toward 1-2 per hour at 65 to 80 years old.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine claims that there is a wide range of potential causes, including anxiety, caffeine, stress and strenuous activities in the evening. However, most hypnic jerks occur essentially at random in healthy people.
A study at the University of Colorado has suggested that a hypnic jerk could be "an archaic reflex to the brain's misinterpretation of muscle relaxation with the onset of sleep as a signal that a sleeping primate is falling out of a tree. The reflex may also have had selective value by having the sleeper readjust or review his or her sleeping position in a nest or on a branch in order to assure that a fall did not occur."

Hypnic jerk: feeling of falling in your sleep
Image Credit: Thesleephub

Hypnic Jerk Cure or Treatment

Okay I wouldn't use the word 'cure' or 'treatment', but here are some tips to help reduce the occurrence of Hypnic jerks:

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  • Follow good sleep hygiene, develop a routine and follow it every night.
  • Watch what you eat before bedtime. Maybe this is where my problem lies.
  • A magnesium, calcium or iron deficiency may be to blame. First, try to improve your diet, take lots and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables or try a supplement, with those minerals and vitamin C.
  • Heavy exercise too close to bedtime can have an effect. Try to limit heavy weights or cardio sessions in the evening (your quest for six packs can wait). Conversely, a gentle walk an hour before bed may help.
  • Meditation can help relieve those negative feedback loops that will make you dread going to bed.
  • Maintain a positive outlook, and get some tips of relaxation or yoga. The techniques taught in even the most basic class may be enough to allow you to get your mind in a state where sleep comes naturally.
  • A relaxation CD played at night may be the answer. It will give your brain something to do instead of worrying and may quickly become an essential part of your sleep routine. Try listening to something cool, Adele's 'Hello' before sleep will probably send you to heaven for hours.
  • If you're a student, cutting back some of the time you spend studying late will probably help you a lot.
  • If the sleeping disorder is having a negative effect on your life then see a doctor, who may prescribe some medication to help you get that much-needed sleep.
Hypnic jerk: feeling of falling in your sleep
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Hypnic jerks are really nothing to worry about. If one wakes you up, simply roll over and go back to sleep. But keep in mind: a high caffeine intake, strenuous evening activities, emotional stress, or sleep deprivation may increase the frequency and intensity of hypnic jerks. If you suspect that one of these factors may be worsening your nighttime muscle twitches, try cutting back on caffeine, using relaxation techniques to help you decompress, or practising better sleep hygiene. And if the jerks themselves—or your anxiety about having them—prevent you from getting enough sleep, talk to your doctor. I really don't find it funny when this happens at school or in public. Imagine what everyone will think when I jump up all of a sudden with so much fear while taking a nap on the school bus. Okay, enough imagination, thanks for reading. Endeavour to share this with your friends and share your Hypnic Jerk experience with us in the comment box below.


  1. Hypnic jerks are common to almost every person and I am also a victim of them. It is some awkward feeling after waking up and sometimes its scary as hell. Thanks for explaining the mysterious thing.

  2. Hahaha... I understand how you feel. You're welcome, and thanks for reading.