Maybe you have had a bad day and are looking forward to getting cozy in bed. As you blissfully go to sleep, though, you are suddenly woken up by the sensation of your legs and arms jerking. You’re awake and wondering what the hell just happened.
This is known as a hypnic jerk, or a sleep start. As are going to sleep, you get a feeling of a jolt of electricity.
It’s not a seizure, and it is a completely benign thing. It’s common, with up to 70 percent of people having hypnic jerks. You may also get the feeling that you are falling as you feel them.
While they are nothing to worry about, they can be a clue as to something’s being off with your health or that you might could use a little attention. Here are three things that could be happening.
1. You Are Sleep-Deprived
Sleep deprivation is usually the most common cause. Poor quality sleep could also cause them. If you are not getting the deep REM stage of sleep that is restorative, that could be the cause. You can tell this is the case if you are getting the seven to nine hours of sleep that you should be getting, but still waking up unrefreshed.
2. You Are Stressed
Emotional and mental stress can also cause a sleep start. It might be very interesting to find out if people started having more hypnic jerks during the lockdowns and pandemic.
This plays right into the idea that you might use some relaxation time before going to bed to remove any anxieties that you might be having that can keep you awake and allow your body to physically relax so you can get to sleep peacefully.
3. You Are Over-Caffeinated
Stimulants like caffeine or nicotine are also linked with hypnic jerks. And it is not surprising that sleep deprivation and consuming caffeine go together.
The more sleep-deprived you are, the more you will rely on caffeine to make you feel awake, and you might even drink it later on in the day (hurting your sleep even more). The FDA recommends people get no more than 400 mg of caffeine each day, or four to five cups of coffee maximum (that’s 8-ounce cups).
Author: Blake Ambrose