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Health

Do You Feel You Are Falling In Your Sleep? Everything To Know About The Hypnic Jerk

The hypnic jerk is what has baffled sleep therapists for years. Is it a sign of an underlying disorder? Is your body trying to convey something to you?

You are just starting to drift off to sleep and then it happens. You feel it. A jerk. Like you’re stumbling to get your balance. Like you’ve just missed falling off a cliff. The hypnic jerk is what has baffled sleep therapists for years. Is it a sign of an underlying disorder? Is it normal? Is your body trying to convey something to you? Are these experiences of hypnic jerks only reported in some people or is it common and many other puzzling questions. We get you the answers.

What is the hypnic jerk?

Also known as ‘sleep starts’, these hypnagogic jerks are when the body experiences involuntary muscle contractions. In fact, this is common and reported amongst a number of people. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders, which is a manual that diagnoses sleep-related issues reports around 70% of people are experiencing these. The intensity of the twitch can be minor or extreme and are the cause for the jolt that the body then feels, causing the sensation of losing balance. The reason for the jolt is unknown but there is research and expertise by professionals that come into play as to what the cause could be.

Why do hypnic jerks occur?

When you are falling asleep, the brain is slipping into dream mode. In this mode, there are several different signals that escape the brain as well as different states of consciousness. This discord between the parts of the nervous system could be the cause of the jerks.

Picture source: No Sleepless Nights | Why Does Your Body Jerk When Falling Asleep And What Does It Mean

The major difference between dreams and the hypnic jerk can be seen by the way people behave in both these cases. In the case of a person dreaming about a specific scene, there are motor responses such as eye movements etc. that are conclusive proof that the person is indeed dreaming. However, in the case of the hypnic jerk, there is no dream happening. In this case, the jerk is the result of a tussle that happens between the motor system of the body that tries to exert control and the dream state of the body that is trying to achieve the state of sleep.

The answer to the mysteries of sleep jerks lies in the part of the brain that is known as the Reticular Activating System.

What role does the Reticular Activating System play in the hypnic jerk?

Nestled among the parts of the brain that control physiological processes, is the RAS. When the body is alert and awake and functioning well, the RAS is in the ‘on’ mode. Its counterpart is the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO) located towards the edge of the brain and responsible for driving a person to feel sleepy. What essentially occurs during the hypnic jerk is a struggle for control between the two systems.

The body is in the midst of making sense of the external world as the RAS is still in force, and control is slowly shifting to the VLPO, as the person grows more sleepy. In this mid-state between the two, the body could either incline towards one.

When the signals by the VLPO starts to get stronger, the person begins dreaming and this could be seen by the rapid eye movements they make in their sleep. When the RAS is still stronger, the hypnic jerk is seen, wherein the effects of the conscious world are entering the dream state.

Does sleep deprivation cause the hypnic jerk?

While it isn’t the only factor responsible for the jerk, it does control the timing of it. There are four stages of sleep. Stage 1 sleep, stage 2 sleep, stage 3 sleep, rapid eye movement (REM). Ramiz Fargo, a sleep medicine specialist at Loma Linda University Health, told Mic “These stages last around 90 to 120 minutes, and you cycle through them four or five times a night.”

Usually, the hypnic jerks occur between wakefulness and Stage 1 sleep. Dreaming occurs during the REM stage. When the body is sleep-deprived, it really needs the REM sleep and so skips Stage 2 and Stage 3, and goes right from Stage 1 to REM. “A hypnic jerk is a clear signal from the body, telling you it wants to sleep. Nothing else is going to satisfy that urge,” says Rafael Pelayo, a sleep specialist at the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center in an article to Mic.

While they are common, if you are freaked out by the jerks, you could resort to these ways of prevention.

What are the ways to prevent the jerks?

Here are ways in which you could lessen the likelihood of the jerks.

Picture source: Sleep Source | Why Does Your Body Jerk When Falling Asleep And What Does It Mean

Unwind before bed

Avoiding anything that is too physically stimulating such as exercise before bed could be one way of lowering the possibility of the jerk. Unwind and relax right before bed so your brain is not in active mode.

Controlled lighting

Exposure to blue light from phones or laptops right before bed sends the wrong signal to your brain, that it is morning. Cut down screen time before bed.

Meditation and routine

Creating a relaxing routine right before bed such as drinking a warm glass of milk or meditating sends signals to your brain that it is calm and thus in ‘rest’ mode.

Avoiding stimulants

For the obvious reason that stimulants excite your brain and put it in active mode, these should be avoided before bed. This also includes caffeine, drugs, etc.

Health

Do You Feel You Are Falling In Your Sleep? Everything To Know About The Hypnic Jerk

The hypnic jerk is what has baffled sleep therapists for years. Is it a sign of an underlying disorder? Is your body trying to convey something to you?

You are just starting to drift off to sleep and then it happens. You feel it. A jerk. Like you’re stumbling to get your balance. Like you’ve just missed falling off a cliff. The hypnic jerk is what has baffled sleep therapists for years. Is it a sign of an underlying disorder? Is it normal? Is your body trying to convey something to you? Are these experiences of hypnic jerks only reported in some people or is it common and many other puzzling questions. We get you the answers.

What is the hypnic jerk?

Also known as ‘sleep starts’, these hypnagogic jerks are when the body experiences involuntary muscle contractions. In fact, this is common and reported amongst a number of people. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders, which is a manual that diagnoses sleep-related issues reports around 70% of people are experiencing these. The intensity of the twitch can be minor or extreme and are the cause for the jolt that the body then feels, causing the sensation of losing balance. The reason for the jolt is unknown but there is research and expertise by professionals that come into play as to what the cause could be.

Why do hypnic jerks occur?

When you are falling asleep, the brain is slipping into dream mode. In this mode, there are several different signals that escape the brain as well as different states of consciousness. This discord between the parts of the nervous system could be the cause of the jerks.

Picture source: No Sleepless Nights | Why Does Your Body Jerk When Falling Asleep And What Does It Mean

The major difference between dreams and the hypnic jerk can be seen by the way people behave in both these cases. In the case of a person dreaming about a specific scene, there are motor responses such as eye movements etc. that are conclusive proof that the person is indeed dreaming. However, in the case of the hypnic jerk, there is no dream happening. In this case, the jerk is the result of a tussle that happens between the motor system of the body that tries to exert control and the dream state of the body that is trying to achieve the state of sleep.

The answer to the mysteries of sleep jerks lies in the part of the brain that is known as the Reticular Activating System.

What role does the Reticular Activating System play in the hypnic jerk?

Nestled among the parts of the brain that control physiological processes, is the RAS. When the body is alert and awake and functioning well, the RAS is in the ‘on’ mode. Its counterpart is the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO) located towards the edge of the brain and responsible for driving a person to feel sleepy. What essentially occurs during the hypnic jerk is a struggle for control between the two systems.

The body is in the midst of making sense of the external world as the RAS is still in force, and control is slowly shifting to the VLPO, as the person grows more sleepy. In this mid-state between the two, the body could either incline towards one.

When the signals by the VLPO starts to get stronger, the person begins dreaming and this could be seen by the rapid eye movements they make in their sleep. When the RAS is still stronger, the hypnic jerk is seen, wherein the effects of the conscious world are entering the dream state.

Does sleep deprivation cause the hypnic jerk?

While it isn’t the only factor responsible for the jerk, it does control the timing of it. There are four stages of sleep. Stage 1 sleep, stage 2 sleep, stage 3 sleep, rapid eye movement (REM). Ramiz Fargo, a sleep medicine specialist at Loma Linda University Health, told Mic “These stages last around 90 to 120 minutes, and you cycle through them four or five times a night.”

Usually, the hypnic jerks occur between wakefulness and Stage 1 sleep. Dreaming occurs during the REM stage. When the body is sleep-deprived, it really needs the REM sleep and so skips Stage 2 and Stage 3, and goes right from Stage 1 to REM. “A hypnic jerk is a clear signal from the body, telling you it wants to sleep. Nothing else is going to satisfy that urge,” says Rafael Pelayo, a sleep specialist at the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center in an article to Mic.

While they are common, if you are freaked out by the jerks, you could resort to these ways of prevention.

What are the ways to prevent the jerks?

Here are ways in which you could lessen the likelihood of the jerks.

Picture source: Sleep Source | Why Does Your Body Jerk When Falling Asleep And What Does It Mean

Unwind before bed

Avoiding anything that is too physically stimulating such as exercise before bed could be one way of lowering the possibility of the jerk. Unwind and relax right before bed so your brain is not in active mode.

Controlled lighting

Exposure to blue light from phones or laptops right before bed sends the wrong signal to your brain, that it is morning. Cut down screen time before bed.

Meditation and routine

Creating a relaxing routine right before bed such as drinking a warm glass of milk or meditating sends signals to your brain that it is calm and thus in ‘rest’ mode.

Avoiding stimulants

For the obvious reason that stimulants excite your brain and put it in active mode, these should be avoided before bed. This also includes caffeine, drugs, etc.

Health

Do You Feel You Are Falling In Your Sleep? Everything To Know About The Hypnic Jerk

The hypnic jerk is what has baffled sleep therapists for years. Is it a sign of an underlying disorder? Is your body trying to convey something to you?

You are just starting to drift off to sleep and then it happens. You feel it. A jerk. Like you’re stumbling to get your balance. Like you’ve just missed falling off a cliff. The hypnic jerk is what has baffled sleep therapists for years. Is it a sign of an underlying disorder? Is it normal? Is your body trying to convey something to you? Are these experiences of hypnic jerks only reported in some people or is it common and many other puzzling questions. We get you the answers.

What is the hypnic jerk?

Also known as ‘sleep starts’, these hypnagogic jerks are when the body experiences involuntary muscle contractions. In fact, this is common and reported amongst a number of people. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders, which is a manual that diagnoses sleep-related issues reports around 70% of people are experiencing these. The intensity of the twitch can be minor or extreme and are the cause for the jolt that the body then feels, causing the sensation of losing balance. The reason for the jolt is unknown but there is research and expertise by professionals that come into play as to what the cause could be.

Why do hypnic jerks occur?

When you are falling asleep, the brain is slipping into dream mode. In this mode, there are several different signals that escape the brain as well as different states of consciousness. This discord between the parts of the nervous system could be the cause of the jerks.

Picture source: No Sleepless Nights | Why Does Your Body Jerk When Falling Asleep And What Does It Mean

The major difference between dreams and the hypnic jerk can be seen by the way people behave in both these cases. In the case of a person dreaming about a specific scene, there are motor responses such as eye movements etc. that are conclusive proof that the person is indeed dreaming. However, in the case of the hypnic jerk, there is no dream happening. In this case, the jerk is the result of a tussle that happens between the motor system of the body that tries to exert control and the dream state of the body that is trying to achieve the state of sleep.

The answer to the mysteries of sleep jerks lies in the part of the brain that is known as the Reticular Activating System.

What role does the Reticular Activating System play in the hypnic jerk?

Nestled among the parts of the brain that control physiological processes, is the RAS. When the body is alert and awake and functioning well, the RAS is in the ‘on’ mode. Its counterpart is the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO) located towards the edge of the brain and responsible for driving a person to feel sleepy. What essentially occurs during the hypnic jerk is a struggle for control between the two systems.

The body is in the midst of making sense of the external world as the RAS is still in force, and control is slowly shifting to the VLPO, as the person grows more sleepy. In this mid-state between the two, the body could either incline towards one.

When the signals by the VLPO starts to get stronger, the person begins dreaming and this could be seen by the rapid eye movements they make in their sleep. When the RAS is still stronger, the hypnic jerk is seen, wherein the effects of the conscious world are entering the dream state.

Does sleep deprivation cause the hypnic jerk?

While it isn’t the only factor responsible for the jerk, it does control the timing of it. There are four stages of sleep. Stage 1 sleep, stage 2 sleep, stage 3 sleep, rapid eye movement (REM). Ramiz Fargo, a sleep medicine specialist at Loma Linda University Health, told Mic “These stages last around 90 to 120 minutes, and you cycle through them four or five times a night.”

Usually, the hypnic jerks occur between wakefulness and Stage 1 sleep. Dreaming occurs during the REM stage. When the body is sleep-deprived, it really needs the REM sleep and so skips Stage 2 and Stage 3, and goes right from Stage 1 to REM. “A hypnic jerk is a clear signal from the body, telling you it wants to sleep. Nothing else is going to satisfy that urge,” says Rafael Pelayo, a sleep specialist at the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center in an article to Mic.

While they are common, if you are freaked out by the jerks, you could resort to these ways of prevention.

What are the ways to prevent the jerks?

Here are ways in which you could lessen the likelihood of the jerks.

Picture source: Sleep Source | Why Does Your Body Jerk When Falling Asleep And What Does It Mean

Unwind before bed

Avoiding anything that is too physically stimulating such as exercise before bed could be one way of lowering the possibility of the jerk. Unwind and relax right before bed so your brain is not in active mode.

Controlled lighting

Exposure to blue light from phones or laptops right before bed sends the wrong signal to your brain, that it is morning. Cut down screen time before bed.

Meditation and routine

Creating a relaxing routine right before bed such as drinking a warm glass of milk or meditating sends signals to your brain that it is calm and thus in ‘rest’ mode.

Avoiding stimulants

For the obvious reason that stimulants excite your brain and put it in active mode, these should be avoided before bed. This also includes caffeine, drugs, etc.

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