Doctor reveals why you ‘twitch’ right before you fall asleep

A doctor has revealed the real reason you sometimes ‘jerk’ in your sleep and are woken up in a jolt of panic.

Dr Kunal Sood is an acute and chronic pain doctor from Maryland in the US, and often demystifies common medical questions that thousands ask him online.

He recently explained that a ‘hypnagogic jerk’ – also known as a ‘sleep start’ – is when you suddenly feel like you’re plummeting to your death accompanied by a twitching in your legs and arms.

Your heartbeat slows, as does your breathing, and your muscles start to unwind – which is when it is common to experience a hypnagogic jerk which may be accompanied by a visual hallucination. 

Dr Sood revealed that our brains get ‘confused’ when our muscles relax and think we are falling and it creates a jerk to prevent the fall. 

Sleep starts typically tend to wake you in the transition from stage one to stage two sleep.

They are more likely to occur if you have anxiety, sleep deprivation, or take stimulants like caffeine or nicotine. 

Some scientists believe that the brain misinterprets your body state accurately when you start to go to sleep. 

Your brain ‘thinks’ you’re still awake but notices your muscles aren’t moving, so sends signals to initiate them.

While they can be startling, hypnagogic jerks are completely harmless and are rarely a sign of any underlying condition or neurological disorder.

A doctor has revealed the real reason you sometimes 'jerk' in your sleep and are woken up in a jolt of panic

Many thanked him for his simple explanation and shared their experiences with sleep starts.

‘My husband has done this every time he falls asleep in the 14 years I’ve known him,’ a woman said. ‘It’s how I know he’s falling asleep.’

‘This has been happening to me all my life,’ another said.

‘I always have nightmares of falling and then I twitch so hard I wake up!’ a third shared.

What are hypnagogic jerks?

Hypnagogic jerks, or sleep starts, are classified as a type of myoclonus, a brief involuntary twitching or jerking of a muscle group or group of muscles.

Sleep starts tend to wake you in the transition from stage one to stage two sleep.

Your heartbeat slows, as does your breathing, and your muscles start to unwind – which is when it is common to experience a hypnic jerk which may or may not be accompanied by a visual hallucination.

Excessive caffeine intake, and physical and emotional stress can increase their frequency.

Some scientists believe that the brain misinterprets your body state accurately when you start to go to sleep. It ‘thinks’ you’re still awake but notices your muscles aren’t moving, so sends signals to initiate them.

While they can be startling, hypnagogic jerks are completely normal, extremely common, and are rarely a sign of any underlying condition.

Source: The Sleep Charity 

Source

Related posts