So you have come back home, tired and slowly beginning to fall asleep, but all of a sudden you feel like you are losing control. You feel like you are falling from somewhere and in order to save yourself you put in effort, which results in a jerk.
What’s happening? Well, to put it in simple words, you just encountered a disturbance, which is pretty common when falling asleep, called hypnic jerk. It is also known as a sleep start or a hypnagogic jerk. Most of the times when people experience hypnic jerk, they do not wake up, but in some cases they do.
According to the famous psychologist Tom Stafford, the cause behind hypnic jerk is still unknown, but he believes that our conscious mind intervenes all of a sudden when our entire body and brain is going in to a state of sleep, making us tentative.
The automatic twitch in the muscle is known as myoclonus. The same category also contains hiccups.
These disturbances during sleep are still an unresolved phenomenon, but scientists have come up with certain theories to figure out why we experience these jerks. According to one of these theories, there is a constant battle between consciousness and sleep in the brain. The moment sleep paralysis strike, the energy left in us comes out randomly, resulting in hypnic jerks. These are considered as the last bursts of energy from our body.
However, all these theories are entirely based on assumptions and there is no proper evidence to support them. There hasn’t been a lot of research on the issue. One thing is for certain though, Hypnic jerks are pretty common and they are harmless, so you can expect some research on the issue in the future.
Many scientists believe that hypnic jerks have a strong connection with sweat, rapid heartbeat and even a feeling of shock.
What Causes Hypnic Jerks?
Hypnic jerks usually occur when you are extremely tired or sleeping uncomfortably. A handful of researches have been done on the issue, which is why there is no conclusive evidence as to what actually causes it. But, according to some theories it is believed that the jerk may occur due to muscle relaxation as you fall asleep. Our mind misinterprets this situation as a sign of losing control or falling from a higher ground, resulting in a sudden jerk. Another major reason behind these jerks is a mild twitching of ear or eye during Rapid Eye Movement (REM), which is one of the phases of sleep.
Hypnic Jerk Treatment
There are no medicines made particularly to treat hypnic jerks. As mentioned above, the issue is still fresh and has not been given a lot of attention as yet. These jerks are harmless, however, a sudden shock can result in minor injuries.
There are certain ways you can treat hypnic jerks:
- The most important thing to make sure while treating these jerks is to have a proper sleeping schedule. A lot of people do not have a proper bedtime because of which they end up sleeping at different times during the day. This results I restlessness, which is a major factor of hypnic jerks. Set a proper schedule and make sure you sleep for at least 8 hours.
- Too much smoking and drinking can also lead to hypnic jerks. Although, if you drink right before your bed time, you may fall sleep right away without any jerks, but that will have a negative impact on the quality of sleep, which can then lead to increased jerks.
- Another great way of avoiding hypnic jerks is by listening to your favorite music before you sleep. It will keep your mind distracted and avoid any sort of negative thoughts from coming in.
- Eating right is always important. Make sure that your diet has enough calcium, magnesium, and iron as lack of these nutrients can be a cause of jerks. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits on regular basis. You can also buy supplements that provide all these nutrients.
One important thing you should never forget is hypnic jerks are normal and can happen every now and again to almost anyone. So, the nest time you experience it, just gather yourself, take a deep breath and go back to sleep again.