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Hypnic Jerk – The Involuntary Twitching Spasm as you Fall Sleep

Experiencing a hypnic jerk can wake you up when you’re falling asleep. A hypnic jerk is a sleep-wake transition disorder.

Without any doubt, sleep is necessary for your well-being. The idea of the comfy bed along with the peaceful ambiance is not less than a blessing. Majority of us know the worth of sleep in our lives and the feeling of being refreshed after a good sleep. Even though we know the importance of sleep but not getting enough sleep can cause health issues.

Are you also among those who wake up in the middle of the night with a racing heart? If your answer is yes then you experience a natural biochemical process named as involuntary twitching or hypnic jerk. In this regard, the feeling that you are falling during sleep is quite common.


Hypnic jerks are an unexpected contraction for a brief time period of one or more than one limbs. However, sometimes it can occur due to the contraction of the whole body as you begin to fall asleep. You can also experience hypnic jerk when you are already in sleep stage. As a result of a hypnic jerk, there are chances that you might awake for a moment or two.

In concrete terms, a hypnic jerk shows resemblance with the jump that a person experience who has startled. For this reason, it accompanies with a falling sensation. It does not stop here but sleep starts have a connection with a quickened heartbeat.

In other words, we can say sometimes sudden perspiration and peculiar feeling of shock. In this scenario, few people show the movement of their legs and arms. On the other hand, others might twitch or jump moderately. Most of the time this jerk is accompanied by a scream as the body responds to this condition during sleep. This experience can differ from person to person and can affect a person’s daily life and performance.

According to the surveys done it has estimated that around 60 to 70 percent of the population suffers it. In this article, you can find a lot about the hypnic jerk and ways to tackle this situation. Along with the basic knowledge, it is essential to visit your doctor to help you even better.


In the world of sleep, you may find hypnic jerk with different names. Therefore, to prevent you from getting confused we have come up with the following similar names of this jerk.

  • Night starts
  • Hypnagogic jerk
  • Sleep starts
  • Myoclonus or myoclonic jerk
  • Involuntary twitching

Hypnic Jerk Causes

You will surprise to know that behind this jerk there are several potential causes by American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  You might experience it during sleep due to excess intake of caffeine, anxiety and strenuous task. Knowing all these causes it has observed that most of these occur randomly in healthy beings as well. According to another research, it happens due to the archaic reflex to our brain that misinterprets the muscle’s relaxation.

Generally, it accompanies the onset of sleep as the sign that sleeping primate is dropping from the tree. Another hypothesis claims that we encounter this jerk because our ancestors used to sleep on branches of trees for protection.

In addition, it also happens when a person enters the sleep stage and brain thinks of dying. As a response to this brain makes the limbs or muscles jolt to make sure that you are alive. According to the hypothesis, while you are sleeping your brain does not sleep and keeps working. In this way, it makes you conscious and able to control motor functions during sleep.

For this reason, there is sudden spasm or contraction in your body that awakes you with a racing heart. On the other hand, hypnic jerk can occur due to Parkinson’s disease. However, not everyone who experiences it has Parkinson’s disease. One of the common reasons for hypnic jerk is also exercising late and not going to bed early.


The way of looking to hypnic jerk differs from person to person for the fact we all perceive things differently. During the sleep when a person goes through hypnic jerk he becomes vocal or lashes out strongly. Although these kinds of situation occur in less of the population and 70 percent suffer from it.

But it upsets their partners or other members of the family who cannot see their loved one struggling. In case of a child who is not taking enough sleep can also experience hypnic jerk. The parent of the child might not understand the scenario and makes themselves worried.

Obviously, no parent wants their child to suffer from any disease or disorder instead wants the child to have a healthy life. In this case, parents need to know the ways to tackle the situation and reach the root cause of it. If your children also suffer from hypnic jerk during sleep then reassure your child without letting him know.

Furthermore, check out the sleeping routine of your child and take him to bed early. If you are unable to figure it out then consult your family doctor for more advice.


Hypnic jerk itself is not a sleep disorder however it might be a result of another sleep disorder. You need to keep in mind that repeated sleep starts can give rise to panic attacks and anxiety. As a result of which there can be a hindrance to your daily routine. Plus this anxiety may not let you sleep peacefully and give rise to sleep disorder eventually.

The scientific explanations in this 90-second video may help you reduce the stress you feel when you experience a hypnic jerk.

Hypnic jerk itself is not a sleep disorder however it might be a result of another sleep disorder. You need to keep in mind that repeated sleep starts can give rise to panic attacks and anxiety. As a result of which there can be a hindrance to your daily routine. Plus this anxiety may not let you sleep peacefully and give rise to sleep disorder eventually.

On the other side, the fear that you are suffering from it can also arise other health problems. It is surprising for you to know that it resembles that of sleep apnea.

If you experience this jerk you might have related it to the sleep apnea that is a dangerous sleep disorder. For the reason, in sleep apnea, there are same symptoms like airways become obstructed for about 10 sec. The same condition happens in hypnic jerk where the brain responds to the lack of oxygen.

You may think that you are snoring experiencing other symptoms like noisy breath so and so forth. Undoubtedly, this situation is a bit difficult to diagnose that’s why most of the people confuse sleep apnea with a hypnic jerk.

For diagnosing it completely you need to take doctor’s advice first to get to the bottom of your issue.


As discussed above, the fear of encountering this jerk as you fall asleep can be the reason for anxiety. The anxiety itself might also be one of the causes of it. This can leave the person who suffers in a vicious cycle where he becomes fearful and anxious about sleep.

In addition to it, the panic attacks and anxiety can make the condition even worse. The entire situation makes the person feel as if he is struggling for a losing battle. While it leaves him experiencing two problems one after another. Fortunately, there are several techniques and tips through which you can minimize the anxiety to calm yourself down during sleep.

One of the possible solutions to this can be not worrying about how many hours you sleep. This means if you are not getting 8 hours of sleep then don’t stress yourself instead make peace with it. In this way, you can have a good night’s sleep and there will be a decrease in anxiety and anxiousness. Keeping a record is the first step in tackling associated anxiety.

First of all, make the list of things you need to do before going to bed. This is how you can deal with overthinking by confronting repeated thoughts or obsessions. Secondly, you have to search for the repetitive thoughts which become unhealthy for health. Lastly, distraction might also work in this case. You can either read a book or listen to peaceful music before sleep.


It does not go without saying that violent or chronic kind of hypnic jerk can lead to severe issues. In fact, it has an effect on a person’s lifestyle and home life. Most importantly, if this is not allowing you to sleep properly then you could be inviting future problems. The side effect of sleep deprivation might damage in short-term, however, upon continuing of this condition it becomes injurious. It is not a denying fact that not taking enough sleep let you feel groggy and lethargic the whole day.

With time, you can also suffer from rapid weight gain, hypertension, depression, and heart attack. Of course, this feeling can stop you from doing normal daily activities and lowers your energy level. In turn, you will become less fruitful at work and less likely to have a happy time. There is no need to worry because you still can stop hypnic jerk to have an impact on your life.

Firstly, know that hypnic jerk is not just happening to you hence it is common. Secondly, make yourself strong enough to fight with it by writing your goals. Thirdly, do not make sleep deprivation your weaknesses instead learn ways to deal with it.

Hypnic Jerk Treatment

baby sleep in a relaxed room hypnic jerkbaby sleep in a relaxed room hypnic jerk

While you feel worried about hypnic jerk here is the good news. There are several ways through which you can stop it during sleep. Those who want to get rid of it need to keep a few things in mind. For instance, this process asks for a lot of patience and courage.

Among different treatments, you have to find the one suit you the most. For most of the part following are some homeopathic treatments that are effective and show quick results.

  • We know this bitter truth that caffeine is not healthy and cause hindrance in the sleep cycle. Therefore, the best solution is the avoidance of caffeine which can less likely let you feel unpleasant. Not just this, even the intake of caffeine in the afternoon can have an adverse impact on your sleep. If you want the hypnic jerk to stay miles away from you then avoid coffee boost each day.
  • Like caffeine, avoiding alcohol can also help in improving your knack to sleep while minimizing hypnic jerk. Alcohol acts as a stimulant and depressant that can affect the chemical in the brain. It will create difficulty for you to sleep peacefully. While having a few glasses of alcohol before bed can make you sleep quickly. However, the quality of sleep can disturb and ultimately you find yourself in the hypnic
  • Although exercise is very beneficial for human body especially when it comes to shedding some pounds. Excessive exercise before bedtime plays a role in making your muscles stiff and tense. It is one of the leading causes of hypnic jerk that most of the people do not acknowledge. It does not mean to stop your workout routine instead shift it in the morning.

For the reason morning, walk or yoga can make you fresh and healthy for the whole day. The fundamental cure for hypnic jerk is improving your sleep pattern and by doing exercise before bed makes it worst.

  • To get peaceful sleep you can try out some activities like involving yourself in music or read a book. Other than this drinking peppermint, chamomile or cocoa drink help in treating hypnic jerk. In addition to this, excessive use of cell phone before going to sleep also probe hypnic jerk. In this regard, the environment of the room must be calm and relaxing.
  • While following other treatments try to go bed early then you actually go every day. This gives you time to unwind without feeling pressure of getting 8 hours of sleep. Other than this, calcium and magnesium supplements will ease your muscles and aids in reducing the spasm of your body. Plus try to take healthy diet full of nutrients and drink plenty of water to let your body function properly.


After considering all of the above we hope that you must have gained knowledge of hypnic jerk from this write-up. In particular the causes, the solution and occurrence of the hypnic jerk during sleep. If you are among those people who suffer from hypnic jerk then you can get insight into this article. However, we accept the fact that it is hard to act and easy to say when your job is demanding.

You can split the bigger goals into small ones and try to relieve yourself from tensions. Moreover, sometimes the disturbance in the sleep cycle can be due to an uncomfortable mattress. Investing in a good and comfortable mattress is not a bad idea though.