Why You Jump Awake When Falling Asleep?

by Romana Greene

Sleep is a wonderful time. Have you ever been relaxing on your favorite chair and you feel yourself slowly nodding off when moments later you suddenly jerk forward and are wide awake. Do you know what it is and what causes it? Read on to find out. 

This strange feeling is called a “hypnic jerk”, it is the sleep version of a hiccup. It is caused in the primary dream state. Essentially the lightest dream state where you are half awake and half asleep. The science behind it says that your muscles are relaxing as you are falling asleep but your brain is a little more awake than your muscles and is confused why they are relaxing. It thinks that you must be falling and gives you a little kick to watch out. 

There are many things that could cause this to happen to you. Sleeping in an unusual environment is one. Sleeping somewhere you are not comfortable for example puts the brain on high alert so when you start to fall asleep, it puts your uncomfortable feeling and the relaxing muscles together and decides you must be falling.

Other factors that make it more likely to happen are increased stress or anxiety. If you have had a hard day at work, your body and brain are in a weird stress mode so it can cause these twitches to take place.

If you have been drinking too much caffeine it has the same effect. If you start to feel these twitches on a regular basis, cut out caffeine and see if it continues to happen.

Having a regular sleeping schedule in a bed you know and are comfortable in is the best solution. If you do feel these hypnic jerks taking place, don’t worry, they are very normal and happen to everyone on occasion. However if you feel these twitches too regularly and if they are stopping you from getting a good night’s sleep, talk to a professional. There may be a different, more serious underlying cause. 

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