The Hypnic Jerk: The Cause of Your Pre-Sleep Tics

Some people, as they are drifting off to sleep, experience involuntary muscle contractions known as hypnic jerks, hypnagogic jerks, or "sleep starts." You might mistake them for twitches in your muscles.

Myoclonus hypnicus is a form of sleep paralysis. In sleep or on the verge of sleep, the body may exhibit jerking movements medically referred to as "hypnic jerks."

There are hypnic jerks that are so slight that you might not even feel them. Other times, they can be quite powerful, as anyone who has ever been almost asleep before being jolted awake can attest.

Hypnic jerks happen frequently and without warning. However, there are some risk factors that can increase the likelihood of these tics occurring even if the exact cause remains unknown.

Hypnotically induced thugs pose no threat. Unless they cause distress or other symptoms, like incontinence, injury, pain, or confusion, a person experiencing them does not need to see a doctor or get medical attention.

The prevalence of hypnic jerks and strategies for minimizing them are discussed.

When a person is falling asleep, they may experience a hypnic jerk, which is an involuntary twitch of one or more muscles. Stage 3 of sleep, also known as REM sleep, is typically when it stops happening. Stages 1 and 2 of sleep are when it occurs. That is to say, they manifest themselves as the body and mind shift from the awake to the sleep states.

Myoclonus, or hypnic jerks, are a form of involuntary muscle movement. The hiccups are another example of myoclonus.

Hypnotic jerks can range in intensity. A partner or caregiver may be the first to notice unusual bodily movements in some people. When the spasms are severe enough, they can even wake the person up.

In addition to hypnic jerks, people may also experience the following symptoms:

  • to have the sensation that they are going to fall or trip
  • a surge of sensation, possibly similar to an electric shock
  • a lucid dream or hallucination, usually involving a scary fall

There are no serious medical conditions that could be causing these feelings. On the other hand, if they are particularly severe, they can cause insomnia.

Myoclonus of the sleep state is characterized by involuntary muscle twitching or jerking.

Researchers in 2016 found that hypnic jerks can strike anyone at any time.

In addition, the study participants experienced hypnic jerks 60%-70% of the time, typically right before they fell asleep. People who have them, however, typically do not experience them every time they go to bed.

Hypnic jerks typically have unknown origins. Most people experience them, and it's unclear why.

Some ideas and theories have been proposed to explain the genesis of these sleep initiations.

The following are some reasons that may be at play:

Having trouble sleeping and feeling extremely fatigued

Hypnic jerks are often brought on by being overly sleepy. Another common cause is sleeping awkwardly.


The inability to get to sleep or stay asleep may be exacerbated by the use of stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, or certain drugs, which stimulate the central nervous system. Moreover, they might make hypnic jerks more common.

Anxiety and tension

When stress and anxiety levels are high, it can be tough to wind down and get ready for bed. It's possible that these involuntary muscle twitches are more effective at waking up a person with a fully awake brain.

According to EEG studies, a specific type of brain activity known as vertex sharp waves occurs during a hypnic jerk.

Early awakening during sleep is common across age groups. Adults, as pointed out by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, are more likely to report severe or frequent hypnic jerks than children.

However, hypnic jerks can occur in infants and young children. Myoclonus, or involuntary muscle movements, have been described by the author of an older study from 2003 as a characteristic of the human nervous system that is present from the time of conception.

A person may wake up from a hypnic jerk, but this is not guaranteed. It's all about how hard you're contracting those muscles.

A sleeping person is not likely to be roused by minor disturbances. Hypnic jerks may go unnoticed until a partner or caregiver draws attention to them.

Other signs of a hypnic jerk may serve as alarms as well. Someone can fall out of bed, off a tree, or into nothingness in their dreams. It's unclear which of these feelings comes first, but either one can be enough to wake someone up.

Although total avoidance of hypnic jerks is unlikely, some people may find that they experience them less frequently after implementing certain changes to their daily routine.

Some advice that may help avoid hypnic jerks is as follows:

Preventing Exhaustion

Getting enough good sleep can help people avoid feeling overly tired.

Good night's sleep advice includes:

  • having a room that is dim, quiet, and at the right temperature
  • eliminating the use of electronic devices in the house
  • trying to maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule
  • The Daytime Workout

Find out how to deal with sleep deprivation and night shifts.

Keeping away from caffeinated beverages

Caffeine-containing beverages and foods like coffee, tea, and chocolate may aid in regaining wakefulness. Late-day caffeine consumption, however, may overstimulate the body and brain, making it hard to wind down and get a good night's rest.

Keeping away from other stimulants

Nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants can all disrupt sleep. The use of these products has been linked to insomnia and hypnic jerks.

Get some help if you're feeling overwhelmed.

Extreme hypnic jerks may be more common in anxious people. There is some evidence that treating stress and anxiety can lessen their severity.

Here are eight strategies for reducing worry.

Setting up a pre-bedtime ritual

Having a set pattern before bed can help the body wind down and relieve tension. Some people unwind with a cup of tea or warm milk and a good book before turning in at night. Some people might find it relaxing to do light stretches while others like to put on music and zone out.

Find out how to improve your sleeping habits.

Lowering the lights

Scientific studies have shown that exposure to bright light increases a person's alertness, so while it may help them get out of bed faster in the morning, it may prevent them from falling asleep again later.

The blue light emitted by some electronic devices and light bulbs tricks the body into thinking that it is daytime and keeps it awake.

In order to reduce exposure to blue light, turning off electronic devices and bright lights at least an hour before bedtime is recommended.

There is, however, no proof that this will inhibit hypnic jerks.

Meditative practices for stress relief

While others prefer breathing exercises or guided meditations, both can be effective means of stress relief. They might feel less stressed if they took 5 minutes to breathe deeply and slowly.

Get some rest and relaxation with the help of these sleep app suggestions.

Sleep starts, also known as hypnic jerks, are extremely common. Having one does not indicate that the sufferer is ill.

Changing one's way of life may help lessen the frequency of hypnic jerks.

Regular sufferers of hypnic jerks should consult a medical professional if they are concerned about their health or the quality of their sleep.

Medication is sometimes recommended by doctors to help patients get a better night's sleep.

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