Have you ever been roused back to complete wakefulness just before you are about to fall asleep because of a sudden arm or leg twitch, or a feeling like you’re falling? You are not alone. It’s a very common phenomenon known as hypnic jerk, and this article will let you know why it happens and what you can do to keep it from striking.
Most people refer to hypnic jerks as sleep starts. Then there are experts who refer to them as hypnagogic jerks, which is in reference to that period right in between being awake and asleep which is called the hypnogogic state.
Simply put, hypnic jerks happen when the muscles contract and relax involuntarily in a spastic manner. However, there are times, too, in which hypnic jerks can be due to an external stimulus such as sound or light. No matter the case, hypnic jerks can definitely wake you up, often leaving you feeling surprised or anxious.
However, it is very much possible for hypnic jerks to take place without you knowing about it — the twitching of your muscles may go unremembered the following day especially if they failed to completely rouse you from sleep.
If you happen to be aware of hypnic jerks, it’s not unlikely for you to sometimes feel as though you are falling. Some scientists believe that it’s still embedded in all of us, an ancient reflex that is meant to protect our ancestors from falling off trees or cliffs as they are about to fall asleep.
There are instances, too, in which hypnic jerks are accompanied by loud sounds or bright lights that are not really around but only in the individual’s head. Some people report that their hypnic jerks are accompanied by hallucinations, which is something that can definitely make a hypnic jerk a frightening experience at night.
Bugged by hypnic jerks on a regular basis? Fret not because you are not alone. According to scientists, hypnic jerks are actually very common phenomena — it is believed that 60 to 70 percent of people across the globe experience hypnic jerks on a regular basis. Clearly, it’s something widespread!
Actually, scientists are not really sure as to why hypnic jerks take place. However, they believe that certain factors can make those weird muscle spasms to happen more likely. Some of them include sleep deprivation, fatigue, stress and anxiety. The intake of excessive amounts of caffeine is also suspected to be a common hypnic jerk cause.
If you are often bugged by hypnic jerks and you feel that they’re something that you can live without at bedtime, here are some of the things that you may try to keep them at bay:
It’s a good idea for you to engage in stress-busting activities most especially at the end of the day to make those stress hormones coursing through your bloodstream go away.
Relaxing just before you hit the hay helps in calming both your mind and body, thus helping to lower your odds of encountering those hypnic jerks.
Take herbal teas
There are instances in which being sleep deprived can invite hypnic jerks. To help you attain a good night’s sleep, you may try drinking lavender, chamomile or lemon balm tea before bedtime.
Last but not least, you should also steer clear of anything that has caffeine in it most especially a few hours before you intend to catch some Z’s.