Here's why your body suddenly jerks while sleeping

What are hypnic jerks, and why does it happen? [xcom]

Ever felt like you were about to fall into a hole just as you were dozing off, and then your body suddenly jolts you awake to avoid it?

It's a common thing - we've all felt that at some point in our lives.

Scientists call this a "hypnic twitch," and it happens when your body gives a little jump, making it feel like you're on the brink of falling. While the exact cause is not fully understood, researchers believe it might have something to do with nerves in the brainstem.

Factors that make these jumps more likely include having too much caffeine, exercising before bed, emotional stress, and sleep deprivation. Other possible reasons that contribute to these jerks are:

Muscle relaxation

As your body slowly drifts to sleep, there is a natural process of muscle relaxation. The brain sometimes misinterprets this relaxation as a falling sensation, triggering a sudden jerk or twitch.


When high levels of stress or anxiety tag along to bedtime, your chances of a hypnic twitch increase. This activates the "fight or flight" response in your brain, and as you start to relax during sleep, the brain might react with a sudden muscle contraction, causing an unexpected little jump.

Irregular sleep routine

Our body likes routines. If your sleep pattern is all over the place, you might be more prone to hypnic jerks.

Here's why your body suddenly jerks while sleeping

Establishing a consistent sleep routine could help minimise these occurrences.

Physical exhaustion

Being physically tired or fatigued can cause hypnic jerks. Your body might react with a sudden jerk as it tries to shift from active to resting mode.

Hypnic jerks are generally harmless, but if they happen very frequently and disrupt your sleep, go get it checked.


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