Have you ever had a dream where you're falling midair and, as you brace for a fall, your body jerks and you wake up?
There’s actually a name for it, it’s called a “hypnic jerk.”
The sensation of falling or jerking yourself awake is commonly referred to as a "hypnic jerk" or "sleep start." These sensations are normal and are experienced by many people at some point in their lives.
It's estimated that up to 70% of people experience hypnic jerks, and most people will experience them occasionally.
Hypnic jerks occur as you transition from the awake state to sleep, usually during the early stages of sleep (N1 stage). They are characterized by a sudden, brief contraction or twitch of the muscles, often accompanied by a feeling of falling or a sense of fright.
There are several potential causes of hypnic jerks, including:
- Stress and anxiety: High levels of stress and anxiety can lead to muscle tension and increase the likelihood of muscle twitching and jerking.
- Caffeine and other stimulants: Consuming caffeine or other stimulants close to bedtime can make it harder to relax and can increase the likelihood of hypnic jerks.
- Sleep deprivation: Not getting enough sleep can lead to increased muscle tension and make it more likely to experience hypnic jerks.
- Sleep disorders: Some sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome, can cause muscle twitching and increase the likelihood of hypnic jerks.
It's worth noting that while hypnic jerks can be annoying and disruptive, they are generally harmless and don't require any treatment.
However, if the sensation is frequent and causing you distress, it’s worth consulting with a sleep specialist for further evaluation.
In general, hypnic jerks are considered a normal part of the sleep process and are nothing to be concerned about.