Have you ever started to just slip off into sleep when your body suddenly jerks you back awake? Me, too. And, we're not alone. Almost 70% of people also experience these sudden body jerks.
The sudden, involuntary jerks are know as "hypnic jerks." As of now, nobody knows for sure why hypnic jerks happen, but there are some theories.
One theory is that hypnic jerks are a natural reaction to your body winding down from your long day. As you begin to drift into sleep, your nervous system starts to wind down. Your breathing and heart rate slow and muscle tone relaxes.
So, it's thought that these jerks are just a natural reaction to all of this. Another theory is, as the muscles begin to relax, your brain misinterprets this as a sign your actually falling and tries to protect you by tensing up your muscles again.
While it's not known exactly why hypnic jerks occur, experts believe they could be caused by stress, alcohol, high caffeine intake, strenuous evening exercise, and even sleep deprivation. If hypnic jerks are happening to you on a regular basis, try one or more of the following:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least 3-4 hours before bedtime;
- Avoid strenuous exercise in the evening;
- Increase your daily dosage of magnesium and calcium, as they can help prevent muscle spasm
- Make sure you are as comfortable as possible
- Introduce some relaxation exercises, yoga or meditation to help reduce physical and emotional stress
If you try some of the remedies above and you are still experiencing hypnic jerks, talk to your primary care doctor.