Have you ever been jolted awake by the sensation of falling while you were falling asleep? This article is going to answer that question for you! If your answer is no, then don’t worry, because you’re not weird! Many people around the world are experiencing the same thing!
These involuntary muscle twitches in the arms, legs, or entire body are called hypnic jerks or sleep starts, and they’re very common. Even up to 70 % of people experience them occasionally, but no one really knows what causes them. Experts around the world have tried to come up with some theories. Some claim that they’re a result of the natural downshifting of the nervous system that occurs as you’re falling asleep. As your breathing and your heart rate slows down, your body temperature drops, your muscle tone shifts, and these twitches occur during this transition. According to another theory, you’re drifting off to sleep, your brain misinterprets the relaxing of your muscles as a sign that you’re actually falling and signals your muscles to tense up so that it can protect you.
Hypnic jerks are nothing to worry about. If one awakens you, simply go back to sleep. You must remember that high caffeine intake, strenuous evening activities, emotional stress, or sleep deprivation may increase the frequency and intensity of hypnic jerks. If you suspect that one of these factors is actually worsening your nighttime muscle twitches, cut back on caffeine, use some relaxation techniques to help you decompress, or practice improved sleep hygiene.
Note: If these jerks or your anxiety about having them prevent you from getting enough sleep, visit your doctor to make sure that everything is alright.