What Is a 'Hypnic jerk' and How To Avoid Them? 


 


Have ever been woken up suddenly in the night by a sudden jolting of the body? You are not alone. Around 70 percent of people experience this, some more than others, and it is totally common. It attaches itself to the feeling of falling or being startled suddenly, yet there is nothing to be startled by. 
  
What is a hypnic jerk? 
  
The hypnic jerk is an involuntary twitch of the muscles which wakes us up. They usually occur whilst we are just about to fall asleep due to our state of consciousness. 
  

Why do we get them? 
  
Although there are many reasons why these occur there is no pinpoint on them exactly but there have been proven reasons why some are more likely to get them: 
  
•    Anxiety 
•    Too much caffeine or alcohol 
•    Feeling stressed 
•    Heavy exercise in the evening 
•    Sleeping when the body is not comfortable 
•    Being overtired 


  
These are many contributing factors that make it more likely we will suddenly be woken up whilst we are trying to sleep but there are a few several theories on the event. The first is that as the central nervous system relaxes along with the muscles, the nerves misfire causing us to have a muscle spasm. The second theory is that whilst we begin to relax, our brain gets a little confused and thinks that the feeling of the muscles relaxing is actually us falling and so it sends a signal to the arms and legs to move to an upright position causing us to feel startled. The final theory is based on safety. It is a way of the body waking you up to make sure we are definitely safe in the surroundings that we are sleeping which can be followed back in time to where we once slept in dangerous situations. 
  

How can we stop them? 
  
Although we cannot stop them all together we can avoid them more by avoiding the things that cause them in the first place. If you are someone who gets them frequently then maybe refer to the list above to see what your trigger points are. 
  
•    Try to avoid caffeine before bed. Perhaps allow your last coffee to be around 4 hours before you go to sleep or just drink it up until lunch time. 
•    Change your exercise routine around so you can work out in the mornings. 
•    Get plenty of magnesium and calcium in your diet as it helps with spasms. 
•    Make sure your mattress is the best for your body. 
•    Do not let yourself get overtired. 
•    Meditating before bedtime to relax the mind 

  

Some of us only experience these jerks a few times every few months and they do not affect us or our sleep but for others, they can experience them many times in the night and it can cause us to feel very tired during the day. Try to keep your stress levels down. Know that your bedtime is a time for you to relax and rest so put your work away, put your phone away and avoid having a TV on in the bedroom. Enjoy your quiet time, read a book that soothes you and meditate to relax the mind and clear any unnecessary clutter from the mind and you should soon feel like your sleeping patterns are improving.
 


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