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Have you ever been so close to falling asleep, only to be woken up by sudden jolt or jerk in your body? Well, that falling feeling is quite common and it is called the hypnic jerk.
A hypnic jerk is a brief and sudden involuntary contraction of the muscles that occurs when a person is beginning to fall asleep. It is a form of involuntary muscle twitches called myoclonus, which also includes hiccups.
Hypnic jerk got its name because it tends to occur during the hypnagogic state – the transitional period between wakefulness and sleep. This phenomenon often causes the person to awaken suddenly. Physically, a hypnic jerk resembles the jump that people experience when startled.
This muscle contraction may occur spontaneously or may be induced by sound, light, or other external stimuli. Some research suggests that up yo 70 percent of people experience hypnic jerk. However, not every one of these moments will force a person awake.
It is important to note that hypnic jerk is not a disorder. For that reason, symptoms of this condition are not signs of a problem. These are simply things a person may experience.
Dream or hallucination that leads to startle, jump, or fall.
Jerk or jolt of a muscle or a body part.
Researches are also unsure why hypnic jerks occur, but few theories exist. Some possible causes of hypnic jerk include:
Some research says that hypnic jerk is a natural part of the body's transition from alertness to sleep, and occur when nerves misfire during the process.
Sleep deprivation. Sleep disturbances and poor sleep habits may be linked to hypnic jerks.
Anxious thoughts, stress and worry may keep the brain active, even as the muscles try to relax when a person drifts off to sleep. This might cause the brain to send out alert signals while a person is dozing or even while asleep.
Likewise, if a person starts to experience more twitches, he may develop anxiety about sleeping because he will begin to worry about these sleep jerks.
Caffeine and nicotine can also impact the body’s ability to fall asleep naturally and stay asleep. Chemicals in these products prevent the brain from reaching deep sleep and instead startle it from time to time.
It’s important to remember that hypnic jerk is not a serious condition. It is not even uncommon. Many people experience these jolts in their sleep.
Taking time to relax before bed may help reduce how often a person experience it. A few changes to the daily routine may also set up for better sleep at night.
Here's a gif that shows how I personally experience hypnic jerk. 😂
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