Have you ever been right on the cusp of falling asleep, only to be shook awake by a sudden falling sensation or rapid body movement? Well if you have, then you’ve experienced a full-fledged hypnagogic or hypnic jerk!

Although they’re nothing to be scared about, it is important to know what they are and why they happen.

What It Is

Hypnic jerks can happen in a variety of fashions – leg twitches, sudden arm movements and other large body jolts are all things that occur during a hypnic jerk!

The event only lasts for a second, and then you’re jolted awake by the sudden rush of adrenaline coupled with the rapid arm, leg or body movement. Many people experience these movements with a sensation of falling or tripping during the initial dream stages, and the result can be an ongoing and frustrating process of easing yourself back to sleep. 

Experts are still determining the exact causes, but there are some common beliefs as to why these hypnic jerks happen in the first place….

Why It Happens

The science is still out on why hypnic jerks occur, but many researchers have shared their own theories – a major one being that the sudden movements are a direct result of your nervous system shutting down for the night.

Your breathing becomes more relaxed, your heart rate slows, your body temperature lowers and this causes your muscles to move, switch and twitch just as you’re about to fall asleep! Despite this being a seemingly natural reaction to your body’s unwinding process, there are things you can do lessen the likelihood.

According to Sleep.org, there are several triggers that can increase the frequency and severity of hypnagogic jerks, like:

– High caffeine intake

– Strenuous evening activities

– Emotional stress

– Sleep deprivation

By reducing your caffeine intake, trying relaxing activities like meditation and yoga before bed, easing your mind and getting enough rest during the week, you can avoid hypnic jerks.

Even though there’s no surefire way to stop them from happening, these tips will help you unwind before bed and will hopefully promote a more peaceful night’s sleep!

Watch what happens in a real-life hypnagogic jerk in this fascinating video.

Sources: Sleep.org / FB Image Credit: Screenshot via YouTube