Hypnic Jerk – Jolted Awake When Falling Asleep…

Last updated: 29 August 2014

If you’re unsure if you’ve ever experienced a hypnic jerk, then ask yourself this question:

cartoon of someone experiencing the hypnic jerk falling experience

Ever woken up with the feeling you are falling?

Have you ever woken up with a sudden jolt just as you’ve started falling asleep? Or maybe it felt like you were falling?

It could be that it felt like you were having a huge muscle spasm. You may have even felt a small shock sensation or a bouncing feeling.

Perhaps it was even your partner that was experiencing it, and this in itself startled you back to consciousness.

It could be then (though not necessarily) that you experienced a hypnic jerk. And if so, you’re certainly not alone.

It’s estimated that around 70% of people experience hypnic jerks at some point in their lives. I know I definitely have.

 

Different names

The world of sleep can be confusing, and there’s no exception when it comes to the hypnic jerk. Confusing because it’s also sometimes called by one of the following names:

  • Night starts.
  • Sleep starts.
  • Hypnagogic jerk – hypnagogic being a term used to describe the period of time when falling asleep.
  • Myoclonus, or myoclonic jerk – technically this is the medical term to describe an involuntary muscle twitch.

 

So what is a hypnic jerk exactly?

A hypnic jerk is an involuntary twitching of a muscle, or muscles (the myoclonus as mentioned above). They usually occur just as you’re falling asleep. This is referred to scientifically as the hypnagogic state of consciousness.

This is why they are sometimes call hypnagogic jerks – because you most commonly experience them when falling asleep.

Note that hypnic is also a shortened version of the word ‘hypnagogic’. So you can see why there are all these possible expressions to describe the same thing.

When you experience a hypnic jerk it often causes you to wake up suddenly. When you wake up you may feel like you’re experiencing the sensation of falling or jolting.

Note that the muscle twitching you experience also occurs in other situations. For example hiccups are also muscle twitches.

 

That strange time of the night

It’s during this phase of falling asleep that several unusual phenomenon may take place. For example we discussed in a previous article the various sleep paralysis experiences people have. Those often come with bizarre or frightening hallucinations, or even out-of-body experiences.

Luckily there’s nothing to be worried about – hypnic jerks along with these other phenomenon are not dangerous. They may be unsettling or frightening, but you don’t need to fear going to sleep just because they may happen to you.

 

Polls

The first poll below was open for a year and has provided a fascinating insight into the frequency that people experience hypnic jerks. I have now closed it and opened two more to continue with the idea of this being an interactive and evolving article which takes readers’ views into account. So please take a moment to fill them in. Thanks!

Poll 1 (now closed)

How often do you experience a hypnic jerk?

  • A couple of times a week (41%, 1,957 Votes)
  • Every day (38%, 1,827 Votes)
  • Rarely (21%, 1,016 Votes)
  • Never (0%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,814

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Poll 2 (open to votes)

Do you think that stress or anxiety makes them worse?

View Results

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Poll 3 (open to votes)

What impact do hypnic jerks have on your sleep?

View Results

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What causes the hypnic jerk?

So now you know that the hypnic jerk is a twitching of the muscles. But what causes the muscles to twitch in the first place?

As is often the case with the complex world of sleep, scientists are still not 100% certain about this. However, they do believe that the following factors can all contribute to hypnic jerks happening:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Heavy exercise late in the evening
  • Sleeping in an uncomfortable position
  • Being very tired or fatigued

In addition to these factors which can contribute to the likelihood of a hypnic jerk occurring, there are 2 theories as to why they happen:

1. The first theory is that they happen as a normal part of the nervous system relaxing and slowing down. For example your breathing slows down, temperature drops and your muscles relax. They are then thought to occur because of the muscle relaxation.

2. The second theory is that while relaxing as you fall asleep, your brain sometimes gets confused and thinks you’re falling. So it sends signals to the arms and legs to move to an upright position, resulting in the jerking sensation.

I have read viewpoints that the brain gets so confused it thinks the body is dying or falling to its death, and so wakes you with a jolt. But I personally don’t have much faith in that more extreme conclusion!

 

Make sure it isn’t another sleep disorder

If you’re experiencing what you think are hypnic jerks, then for some people it could be something more serious like Sleep Apnea.

If you have breathing difficulties when sleeping, or wake up with a gasp or croak it may be wise to consult a medical professional to rule out Apnea.

A doctor would also be able to rule out the possibility of epilepsy. A small number of people with epilepsy only experience seizures during the sleeping hours.

It’s also possible that you may have restless leg syndrome, or periodic limb movement disorder. Again these would be diagnosed by a medical professional or sleep expert.

And most rarely of all, is the possibility of exploding head syndrome. This sleep disorder is also harmless, and is characterized by a very loud noise in your head. It could sound like a bang or any other loud noise, and will wake you up suddenly.

For the majority of people though, the hypnic jerk is a common and harmless phenomenon.

 

How can you stop hypnic jerks?

The hypnic jerk is such a common occurrence, that it may not be possible to prevent it happening completely. However, you can take steps to address some of the factors thought to increase the likelihood:

  • You can cut down on alcohol and caffeine, especially in the 3-4 hours before going to bed.
  • Try not to do heavy exercise late in the evening or night.
  • Ensure you are getting sufficient magnesium and calcium in your diet – this can help with muscle and nerve spasms.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and bedding, and that you sleep in a comfortable position, even with a partner. Personally I’ve found that I often experience a hypnic jerk when I am cuddling my partner to fall asleep, but am not really in the most comfortable position.
  • If you are someone that suffers from anxiety or stress, then this is another issue to address altogether. However, you may find some useful advice in the section about relaxation exercises for sleep. This covers practical short-term exercises, and also some ideas for more long-term techniques to tackle stress and anxiety.
  • Try not to allow yourself to get too tired or fatigued. Obviously this depends on your particular circumstances, as some people understandably have very busy and tiring lives. But it may be up to you to try to give more importance to how much sleep you get. Have a read of the section on attitude towards sleep for some ideas about this.

 

Avoid the vicious cycle of worrying that you will experience a hypnic jerk

Hypnic jerks can become cyclical if you start worrying about them. This is a very common thing that happens with sleeping difficulties.

For example people who have insomnia will often start worrying that they won’t be able to get to sleep. This worrying then becomes the thing that causes their insomnia, even if the original cause has long gone.

So in the same way, if you worry about hypnic jerks, then you may start to get less sleep and become more fatigued. Being fatigued is thought to contribute to the frequency of hypnic jerks, and so it’s more likely you’ll experience them.

You now know that a hypnic jerk is not dangerous, and that many people experience them. So hopefully you can start to relax about them, and not go to bed thinking about them.

 

Readers’ ideas, tips and techniques to cure hypnic jerks

If you look below you’ll see a vast number of comments from previous readers, many of whom have offered their own ideas on what can make hypnic jerks better or worse.

First of all, I’d like to acknowledge and thank everyone for such detailed comments and for sharing your thoughts.

Secondly, I’m going to start a list of ideas which people have provided. Please note that many of these have no evidence to back them up. It’s simply a list of some things which other people say can contribute to hypnic jerks or improve them.

  • Don’t stress about it, as worrying about it makes it worse (easier said than done, but not impossible!).
  • Try to deal with major stress in your life – many people say they’re worse when they feel stressed.
  • If you’re someone who suffers from anxiety, then take steps to tackle this in general, as this may help reduce the hypnic jerks. It may also help you stop worrying about them.
  • Drink Cayenne pepper tea (I suggest doing some research into this online first).
  • Magnesium supplements have been helpful for some people, as has rubbing Magnesium oils or transdermal Magnesium into the area where you most commonly twitch. One suggestion was to get a blood test to check if you have a deficiency.
  • Try to see the funny side! Not everyone will agree, but some people say they just laugh them off.
  • Try acupuncture.
  • Make sure you get enough Calcium in your normal diet, or take supplements.
  • Stop working out for a while if you are doing strenuous exercise and see if it improves.
  • Don’t drink alcohol, coffee or energy drinks for a while and see if it improves.
  • Try to see them as a sign that you must be falling asleep, and that it’s a positive thing as you know you’ll soon be asleep.
  • Talk to your doctor about any medication you’re on, including over-the-counter sleep aids to check if any could be increasing the frequency or strength of your hypnic jerks.
  • In addition to the above, check that medication you’re taking doesn’t have a side-effect of myoclonus (which many do!)
  • Sleep aids and allergy medication containing the anti-histamine Diphenhydramine can sometimes cause twitching. Try stopping them temporarily if you use them regularly.
  • Try taking electrolyte pills or solutions which athletes use, and are also given for fluid loss.
  • Try to sleep in a different position from your back – one suggestion was that the fetal position can help.
  • Don’t go to bed late at night (this ties in with having good sleep habits in general).
  • In terms of prescription medication, some people say Clonazepam has helped them (benzodiazepines are not a long-term solution though).
  • Film yourself sleeping! One reader said he discovered through doing this that he was snoring, and that the hypnic jerks occurred while he was snoring heavily.
  • Some female readers in particular feel that it can be connected to hormonal changes.
  • Ask for a referral to a sleep clinic if you’re able to and it’s particularly troubling.
  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Eat less sugary and salty foods, and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Ensure you have a quiet sleeping environment, as it could be a sudden noise which startles you awake.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day.
  • If you’re being bothered by them repeatedly, get up and do something relaxing for 10-20 minutes, then try to sleep again.
  • Have a light snack before bed. And if they’re occurring repeatedly, get up and have a light snack. A banana is a good option.
  • Have a warm shower before bed, then do relaxation exercises before getting into bed, or even while in bed.
  • If you do exercise, it could be excess lactic acid contributing to hypnic jerks. So try looking into ways to reduce the lactic acid.

Once again, a big thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute to this list of ideas to try. I know many future readers will appreciate having so many possible options to consider. And hopefully it will inspire them to continue adding more ideas in the future.

 

What do you think about hypnic jerks?

There isn’t much research published about the hypnic jerk, mainly because it is thought to be harmless. So I’m interested to know what your experience is. How often do you have them? What seems to make them worse or more frequent? What do you find helps to reduce them?

Please share your experiences in the comments box below and help out other readers with your ideas and theories. And if you just want a place to express what you’ve been going through, then you’re most welcome to do so here.

 


344 Responses to “Hypnic Jerk – Jolted Awake When Falling Asleep…”

  1. Sleepless in Oz says:

    I’m a 31 yr old chef who experiences Hypnic jerks every single day (I nap during the break on my split shift). First and foremost I CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH how important it is to see a Doctor to alleviate any concerns you have about this weird thing that happens to your body when you’re about to fall asleep etc etc. In my humble opinion even if you know what it is, the peace of mind you’ll get from having a trained professional confirm it for you is absolutely vital. Hey.. it might even stop them all together for some.. who knows? As I mentioned earlier, I’m just a humble chef I’ve had absolutely no medical training. That said I’m going to throw a theory out there regarding what causes Hypnic jerks which… hopefully….Will at least allow someone better qualified to have a chuckle and a shake of the head at my expense…

    here goes….

    The human body is EXTREMELY cleverly designed… It’s able to defend itself from microscopic organisms and giant predators alike.. If you don’t feel SAFE, if
    you’re TRAUMATIZED, If you’re anticipating some kind of
    PHYSICAL or EMOTIONAL DANGER the next morning your body will NOT allow you to sleep until this threat is either neutralized or evaded. . . It doesn’t want to fall asleep in the woods only to wake up half eaten by the predator you’re dreading while you’re falling asleep. It NEEDS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE!!!! So my advice? Don’t think about strategies to accomplish miracles just before you go to sleep… I know it’s natural.. we all do it right? But if you bring your mind to D.E.F.C.O.N 1 when you’re nodding off and are subsequently surprised when your body wants to gear up to launch some nukes well….. enough said

    Respect your ingredients people!!!!!! Some of them died to make dinner possible….. Stevie out!!!!

    • Hi Stevie

      Thanks for this very entertaining comment! Though I’m not exactly sure I followed your explanation for how hypnic jerks occur, but everything until the last few lines made sense;-)

      But thanks anyway for adding some fun to the article…

      • Alex says:

        Cayenne pepper tea (there are tons of recipes on the Internet but the simplest half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder in hot water like tea, you can also add a dash of cinnamon or some lemon juice or a green tea bag) helped me last night get over hypnic jerks. Cayenne pepper is WONDERFUL for your heart, blood pressure and circulation, which I’d recently read about, so I started drinking this cayenne pepper tea.

        Last night, after a stressful day, I had gone to bed, only to be woken by hypnic jerks which I haven’t had for a while – and yes, they’re annoying.

        Anyway I thought – hang on, maybe cayenne pepper tea can help! So I made some, drank it, and then went to bed.

        Well, I couldn’t believe it – after one or two tiny tiny jerks, much weaker than before, I fell asleep! Sure, I woke up two or three hours later to empty a full bladder from the tea, but went straight back to bed and fell asleep straight away!

        Anyway this is my theory but it worked beautifully for me last night – first thing that ever has, although I’ve simply ignored hypnic jerks in the last as they eventually went away, although until now I’ve never had a remedy for it.

        Anyway might be worth a shot for all the sufferers here – if it helps you, I’ll be most pleased.

        Cayenne pepper tea also AWESOME to drink first thing in the morning and much better than regular teas or coffees. Sure the pepper is hot, but really it is very mild and the mild burning sensation disappears very quickly.

        Good luck and pleasant sleeping

        Alex

        • Hi Alex

          Thanks for your comment and the information about Cayenne pepper tea. Someone else recently suggested it too. I’m not sure that it sounds like something I would personally like to try, but I know there are lots of readers who are interested in trying things which might help them.

          The most important thing though is that you found something which helps you. Hopefully it will continue that way!

          Regards
          Ethan

      • suzie says:

        Hi Ethan, as stated a few weeks ago,iv’e been suffering hypnic jerks for 18 months. Iv’e also had to see my doc as for a few months iv’e suffered severe dizzy spells, asked if the 2 were related,he said no, anyways he gave me Prochlorpeazine tablets, iv’e been on them 2 weeks now and iv’e realised my jerks have decreased from 6/7 to 1/2. i am over the moon, don’t know if this is something that can be looked into?

        • Hi Suzie

          I’m glad you have a doctor who has found something which is helping you. I think it’s a pretty strong medication, so it’s unlikely it would routinely be prescribed for something which is not usually seen as a serious problem in the medical community. It is also only available on prescription from a doctor, who I imagine would prescribe other medicines before that one to anyone coming to see them about hypnic jerks only.
          I hope your dizzy spells clear up and that you feel better:-)
          All the best
          Ethan

          • suzie says:

            Hi Ethan,

            Hope you are well. Thought i would give an update, after finishing the tablets my doctor gave me for my dizzy spells,which appeared to reduce my Jerks from 6/7 a night to 1/2, they have went back to 6/7 sometimes more and my dizzy spells are still present though not as bad. i have terrible leg cramps at night which haven’t bothered me for some months. really getting fed up now.

            take care
            suzie

          • Hi Suzie

            Nice to hear from you again, though I’m sorry you’ve had a return to the old frequency of hypnic jerks. Since you last wrote, I’ve created a new section of tips based on all the reader comments over the year this article has been published. You might find something there which could help you more long-term than prescription medication.
            Let me know if you do find anything helpful!
            Regards
            Ethan

    • Surfula says:

      I have started treating my hypnic jerks using magnesium oil, it is concentrated seawater salts that you rub into the skin, in my case, in the area where you felt the jerk, like calf muscle. It works! Instead of having more jerks that night, they are gone, often for days. My only concern is this is a salt and may be taxing on your system, so I use it sparingly. Perhaps this will help others? I only found it on the internet, not my local health food store. Good luck, and let me know if it works for you! Could it be a magnesium deficiency, not treatable by oral supplements, that causes hypnic jerks? Bad news for big Pharma, they would poo-poo results, so would doctors!

      • That answers my previous question…I hadn’t seen your second comment! I’m not an expert on natural medicine, so can’t comment on your magnesium theory. Perhaps one of the other readers will come back and give an opinion, if they are still following these comments.
        All the best
        Ethan

      • hayley says:

        I also find that magnesium oil helps calm my hypnic jerks, but it usually only lasts a day. Extra calcium also helps.

        One thing people need to understand about magnesium is that just because your magnesium blood serum level comes back normal doesn’t mean your body has enough magnesium as it pulls all available magnesium into the blood to keep you from having a heart attack. You need a special blood test to check for the cellular magnesium level. There’s a good series on youtube by Dr. Mark Sircus on magnesium. He has a book on transdermal magnesium therapy. It’s worth watching and reading if you have sleep, energy or constipation problems.

    • clucker says:

      There are three occasions when I seem to get them.

      1 is sleeping I knew nothing about them and just assumed they were my muscles releasing tension this came from the other times I get them too that led me to think this.

      2 is when I am relaxing for any reason or sometime when I seen something I do not approve of and find “icky”.

      3 is when I am meditating.

      In 1 and 3 it is usually from my legs and 2 results in my getting these jerks in my upper body though the upper body is quite rare.

      I never worried about these due to my assumptions on the course, I actually enjoyed them and started to tense and jerk a little by choice before bed as I found that it does actually make me feel more relaxed after doing so. Since I started doing it consciously the involuntary jerks have trailed off.

      • Hi Clucker

        Thanks for your comment and sharing your ideas. There have been a few interesting suggestions recently from readers as to things which they find help. But consciously tensing/jerking first is a very interesting idea. I wonder if doing progressive muscle relaxation where you actively tense, or contract, muscles throughout your body and relax them would be helpful for you? Have you tried that at all?
        Regards
        Ethan

    • Jeff says:

      I have been experiencing these jerks since college where my then girlfriend had them. They have continued through the years, sometimes worse then other times. Now, some 35+ years later they have been much more consistent. They happen when I am either awake and very tired, jerking slightly with my head which I try to cover quickly if there is anyone around. The main time is when I am just about asleep. The jerk can be simple and at other times quite violent, a much more severe jerk starting with the head area but quite often the main torso twitching violently. So much that I have to get up and try to calm down. What bothers me in particular are two things. First, the head twitch seems to be often just with inside my head giving me like and anxiety attack more than a muscle twitch but not quite that either – like a brain flip? It’s like it has the effect of a electrical shock or simply shock that is frightening and last but a few seconds. These will continue for awhile off and on. Finally, I am usually so tired I fall asleep. Secondly, it is the gasping for air just before I fall asleep. It’s just a split second and never really feel I am dying but close in ways. It is at least extremely uncomfortable and this is new in the past 5 years, after 40 years of experiencing this thing. I will admit, even though I drink a lot less than when I was young, the times I do increase the twitching experience and more all over the body and more violently. No doctor has really said anything about it when mentioning it. — so it’s the gasping for air just before I fall asleep, scarring me as well as that sharp pain-like shock in the head for second or two off and on exclusive of the muscle twitch that bother me.

      • Hi Jeff,

        Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. Sorry to hear you’ve been experiencing these twitches for so long, and had such a torrid time with them. Your story does seem similar to that of a few other readers, and I am not sure if I have any great words of wisdom.

        One thing I always say to anyone who reports breathing problem, such as gasping for breath, is to make sure their doctor knows about that because of the possibility of it meaning a sleep-related breathing disorder. You don’t mention if you’ve spoken about that specifically to your doctor?

        Otherwise, as I’ve been saying recently – perhaps slightly lazily! – there is now such a wealth of practical ideas from other readers, that if you have the time and motivation to read through, you may well find something which can help.

        All the best
        Ethan

      • Sean says:

        Hi Jeff,

        What you’ve described here is exactly what happens to me every single night. It feels like someone jump started your brain and it’s damn scary! The sensation is usually accompanied by tingling either in my head or chest, kind of like when your foot falls asleep but less severe. I can also relate to the gasping after “the shock”. It’s not so much that I feel as though I’m out of breath but I think it’s more of a panic gasp because I feel like almost died.

    • Deepshikha says:

      I have been experiencing hypic jerks since childhood and whenever I used to share it with someone people used to laugh at me. Whenever I dream myself standing on stairs or climbing it these hypnic jerks occur to me. Earliar when I was a kid I used to think that this is a sign or something that in future I am gonna die falling from stairs…funny but ya these dreams used to compel me to think that way!

      • Hi Deepshikha,

        Thanks for your comment, and I imagine you’re far from the first person to have such thoughts. Dreams are funny things indeed, but fortunately they aren’t known to be very accurate at predicting the future!
        Regards,
        Ethan

    • suzie says:

      Hi, ive been experiencing this for 18 months now, i have at least 4 or 5 jerks before i can actually fall asleep, it happen’s even if i’m sitting up, every single night is the same!! once im awake i have to focus on something to stop the falling sensation,its horrible and either one arm jolts or both my legs kick out. im shattered most mornings because of this.

      • Hi Suzie,

        Sorry to hear you’ve been having problems and such disrupted sleep due to hypnic jerks. Hopefully you will have found some practical ideas in this article and the many suggestions from other readers.
        All the best
        Ethan

    • Annette G says:

      I too have this problem but I already know why, I have Grandmal Seizures which has another name called Tonic Clonic full body seizures. My Epilepsy my entire brain is involved and stress and I have in so niacin as well and when I have these it like you have been startled awake that is the best way to explain it a startling feeling.

      • Hi Annette,

        So for you it is part of a bigger problem. I didn’t quite understand what you meant about Niacin though. And yes, a startling feeling is a good description.

        Regards
        Ethan

  2. Denise says:

    Good afternoon,

    I have been experiencing these “jerks” for a couple of years now and find them extremely distressing. The limb and whole body jerks are disconcerting, but it is the throat spasms that follow after each and every other involuntary movement. My throat spasms and I have to swallow very hard which instantly brings you to wide awake. The jerks can range in intensity from a twitch to a body heave. Also, the nights where these happen most my skin becomes ultra sensitive to even the touch of a sheet or even a movement in the room.

    I just don’t understand why these jerks occur. I have tried magnesium and other minerals in an attempt to help, but they don’t. The only relief I have had has been from Chinese acupuncture which definitely helps. The downside is that my practitioner has been away on holiday for 3 weeks and two weeks into this the jerks and spasms have returned.

    If anyone has any other ideas, please share them.

    • Hi Denise

      Thanks for sharing your own experiences of hypnic jerks. Sorry to hear that they are clearly so distressing for you. It might be interesting to find out exactly what your acupuncture practitioner has in mind. Is it mainly about stress relief and relaxation, or is there something else that they know about hypnic jerks? If they tell you, then perhaps you could find other ways of doing the same. So for example if it’s about relaxation, then you could find other self-help ways to relax. You could also have a look at the acupressure mats which aren’t exactly the same as the real thing, but have been known to help promote relaxation and sleep. Here is an acupressure mat review you might find interesting.

    • Surfula says:

      Try transdermal magnesium, it is absorbed through the skin, directly into the area that might be deficient in mag. Good luck.

    • Annette G says:

      Sorry about my post I noticed some words got typed wrong like the word I meant to type was insomnia not niacin. I was told by my neuro doctor that the body has those jerks sometime due to not enough sleep and just being over tired,and stress and epilepsy. What happens with me is my body is ready but my brain is not and my brain is fighting it. This is how the shocks feel to me, say it is the 4th of July and your friend is lights up a firing work but does not tell you he is lighting the fuse and the next thing you know you jump because the fire work scared the cap out of you and you jumped from the loud noise, that is how I act when I get those jerks while iam sleeping. Sometimes I will have them after I have been asleep for an hr or 2 late at night. Mine are so furious it would wake my husband and one that I had one night was I went to sleep and the next thing I know I rolled right out of the bed and hit the floor and I smacked my head really hard and while I was sleeping I really felt as though I was falling, I will never forget that one.

      • Hi again Anette,

        Ahh ok that explains the niacin thing then!
        Your neuro’s suggestions I imagine are very true. And I like your comparison with not knowing fireworks are going off. The falling out of bed incident sounds terrible. I hope you didn’t injure yourself too badly.
        Regards
        Ethan

  3. Lindy says:

    I am currently involved in a training that teaches practitioners how to teach people to improve their sleep. Recently doing one of the techniques, I had 2 hypnic jerks. It had not been my first time, but it was the first time that I decided to find out what they are all about. I have been looking online, but have not found much that is significant. I found out what they were called, but not the cause. I am a good sleeper and I just do not fit the profile. I am not “worried” about them and they do not keep me from sleeping and they are not associated with dreaming. The only weird thing about them is about 1-2 yrs. ago, they also began to include sounds from my throat. Sort of like yelps or guttural utterances. I haven’t seen anything about that in the literature. Too bad there is not much more research.

    • Hi Lindy

      Thanks for leaving your comments. Yes it’s a shame there isn’t more research, but I guess they are just not seen as a significant enough phenomenon to warrant the time and resources of researchers.

      I don’t think being a good sleeper would necessarily mean you shouldn’t experience hypnic jerks. From my understanding many people experience them at least occasionally, even people who otherwise sleep well.

      As for the yelps or utterances, I’m assuming you’ve looked into apnea as an explanation? Otherwise maybe even Catathrenia?

      I hope the training goes well and that you eventually help others with their sleep. There is a big enough need for it that’s for sure!

  4. Bradley says:

    Thank you for the useful article Ethan.

    I have these hypnic jerks when about to fall asleep. Once I’m properly asleep though then all is normal. Sometimes it will be just a limb or two that jerks and sometimes it will be seemingly full body. I never get any sensations of falling or being shocked though. Just involuntary jerks. In addition to limbs, my eyes will usually jerk as well. I can best describe it as – imagine you are bracing for contact with something. You sort of squish your eyes shut really tightly. Or like someone just turned on a strong light in your face when you had been in the dark for a while.

    I am 23 and about 3 months ago I was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD by a neurologist. For the last 3 months I’ve been taking medication for it called “Strattera”. This differs to Ritalin/Concerta in that it takes about 6 weeks to start working but provides 24/7 concentration benefits as opposed to the 4-12 hours that the other two last for.

    I’ve been struggling with these hypnic jerks of late. It doesn’t really bother me all that much other than being mildly annoying but I’ll often wake my girlfriend up with it and that’s an issue since she battles to fall asleep and that sleep is vital to her studying.

    I think this started (or got worse) at about the same time as I started taking the ADD medication but neither me nor my girlfriend are 100% sure.

    Last week I saw my neurologist for my 3 month check-up and she said I was the first to mention these twitches (I didn’t know it was called a hypnic jerk at the time).

    As part of standard procedure, before prescribing ADD medication, she does an EEG to ensure that the medication can’t cause an epileptic fit. So I wasn’t scared there was anything wrong with my brain, other than the ADD of course.

    I did mention to her that I’d been feeling more tired of late. She said that this can be the case in 20% of people taking the medication. As a result, I now take the Strattera at night instead of in the morning.

    So I’m now thinking that perhaps the medication isn’t directly causing these jerks per se but rather making me more tired and it is the fatigue that is causing the jerks?

    It is too soon to tell whether the night time consumption has made any real difference or not.

    I’m generally not a stressed person but I am studying to be a chartered accountant and it is a very difficult degree with an incredible volume of work. So stress is another possible factor.

    Unfortunately I don’t have any “cures” for readers but I just thought I’d mention the eye squish to see if others also experienced it in addition to the limbs jerking and also to mention a change in medication as something that readers could monitor as a possible cause of hypic jerking.

    • Hi Bradley

      Thank you very much for sharing your experiences of hypnic jerks, and also your insightful and personal thoughts on what could be causing them. I don’t want to comment on the medication aspect as I am not a doctor.

      But your explanation of the indirect effects does also seem to make sense. As you say, tiredness and stress are both factors that can increase the likelihood of hypnic jerks happening. But I also think you’re right in that it might take some time to pinpoint what is causing the increase in frequency.

      Funnily enough, I have actually experienced the eye thing you’re talking about. It only happened a couple of times, and it was a long time ago. But I do remember at the time thinking it was strange. I had forgotten about it until reading your comment, so you’re not alone on that one:-)

      All the best with your studies, and I hope the hypnic jerks settle down so you and your partner can sleep easier.

      Ethan

  5. Hey there says:

    This happens to me if I trip when I’m sleeping
    Usually if I’m on the stairs and on ice

  6. Zac K says:

    Unfortunately at the age of 16 I’ve already had 3 within 2013. However, my limbs don’t jerk, it feels like my head is getting compressed, like, squeezed, it happened today, and it drove me to find someone to ask;

    Why my head? Not my limbs?

    • Hi Zac

      Thanks for stopping by – first of all, if it is hypnic jerks you’ve had, then 3 in 9 months is really not usual at all. Many people might have 3 a week or even more, so don’t worry about that.

      As for the head thing, I’m not sure what to say to be honest. I haven’t experienced the compression feeling personally, and haven’t read much about that either. It may be that it’s not actually hypnic jerks, or it may be that it is, but you are feeling it it a different way than others might do. Is it a quick squeezing sensation, or does it last for a little while?

  7. Sandra says:

    Thank you so much for comments/articles, they have really helped me understand all this jerking I have been experiencing. My hypnic jerks started after having a pin and a plate put in my left hip. I had a stress fracture and some fluid build up. Once I started taking pain pills and my regular meds, the hypnic jerks started. They are very annoying, and I am hoping they will go away soon, but I will mention them to my doctor and see what he has to say about them. Thanks again everyone! At least now I can give my problem a name!

    • Hi Sandra

      Thank you also for taking the time to leave a comment, and I’m really pleased that you found the article useful. Having a name to call a problem can definitely be helpful sometimes, and perhaps also help your doctor pin-point more quickly if your meds could be contributing to it or not.

      I do hope that the annoyance of your hypnic jerks clears soon and you can forget about this episode:-)

  8. Saadia says:

    I’m 24 year old and starting experiencing them since last year, and this is the first time i researched about them and found your article. I think i get them when I’m tired or haven’t taken food with enough calcium. They are really uncomfortable, it feels like a sudden jerk in the leg, like i was falling or something. I dont think it is related to bad or uncomfortable sleeping posture

    • Hi Saadia

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. You’re definitely right in that tiredness can be a trigger for hypnic jerks, and also that they can be uncomfortable. Funnily enough last night I had a really huge arm twitching experience that really shook me!

      I’d be interested to know what made you think a lack of Calcium causes them?

      Ethan

  9. Matthew Reed says:

    Hello everyone,

    I have been having these hypnic jerks for a few weeks now, and it seems to happen almost every night. I have also been caught sleep walking and talking in my sleep many times.

    I was in a car wreck a few months ago, but it wasn’t bad and I wasn’t hurt. But since then I have been having dreams about crashing so in my dream I try to turn the wheel or slam on the brakes, but it doesn’t help and I crash.

    And when I am awake I get these “jerks” also, and it’s usually when I am driving. I do not know if these are connected or not.

    Thanks
    -Matthew

  10. Matthew Reed says:

    Sometimes 3-4 times a night.

    • Hi Matthew

      First of all, I’m very sorry to hear about the car crash, and glad you got through unhurt. But it does sound like your having bad dreams / nightmares as a direct result of course, considering the content of the dream.

      And if you started getting hypnic jerks after the crash then I would say it could be connected, but perhaps due to stress / worry or shock still lingering in your mind. Getting hypnic jerks when awake is not really something I’ve heard of, and it could be something totally different, but again related to the after-effects of being in a traumatic and scary experience.

      I can recommend a couple of things you could do:

      1. Speak to your doctor. Getting what you think are hypnic jerks during the day could be something else. It’s probably good to speak about them openly. Your doctor might also suggest talking to someone about the crash to see if that helps resolve all the issues you’re having.

      2. Read my article discussing how to stop nightmares. You might find some of the ideas there help you.

      3. Do some relaxation exercises during the day and especially before going to sleep.

      Thanks again for sharing your story, and I hope you manage to deal with the night and daytime experiences you’re having.

      Ethan

  11. Katherine says:

    I have been having severe hypnic jerks for the past seven months. Some nights I won’t get past them at all and will be awake all night (or more accurately falling asleep and waking up with a start all night.) They can get very distressing, and I get more and more tired which makes the worse. I have seen a sleep specialist, who thinks they are to do with going into sleep via REM-dream sleep and not the normal deep sleep route. This concurs with my experience, ie. they are related to dreaming. I am dreaming almost the minute I shut my eyes, and the jerk often is related to the dream. Melatonin has been helpful in my case – melatonin in combination with sun-light the most helpful of all. They tend to settle down and then flare back up again, but once you have experienced them settle down for a couple of weeks, it doesn’t feel quite so devastating when they return.

    By the by, I also have a very sore tongue that does seem to respond to B12 supplementation. I suspect that this may have a role with the sleep problems / hypnic jerks as well, but am not sure really how to proceed. I am seeing the sleep specialist again soon and am going to ask him to run a blood test. (my grandmother and aunt have pernicious anaemia so it is in the family.) I have read that others may have the sore tongue / hypnic jerk comb and wondered if that was anyone else’s experience.

    Katherine

    • Hi Katherine

      Thanks for taking the time to describe your experiences. I’m not surprised they can be distressing if you experience them so often and they disturb your sleep so much. Sorry to hear that.

      I haven’t personally had the sore tongue symptom you describe. Perhaps someone else reading this might recognize that issue and have something to say about it.

      Good luck when you go to the sleep specialist again – you’re doing the right thing seeing a professional, and I hope they manage to help you manage it better.

      Ethan

  12. Sandra says:

    I started have hypnic jerks in August 2012 the night before my favourite sister-in-law was laid to rest and just three months after I had a triple by-pass operation – it was told to me that it was stress related – even on medication (a very small dose of clonazepam) by the neurologist since August 2012 until now I still experience jerking most nights which is very disturbing to both myself and my husband (I am 70 years old and up until August 2012 had never experienced anything like the hypnic jerks).

    I know I am a stressy person but how long is this symptom going to last I wonder?

    • Hi Sandra

      Thank you for sharing your story, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a difficult period to get through. I’m not surprised you’ve been feeling stressed with all that to cope with.

      Clonazepam can sometimes cause sleep disturbances, especially if used for longer periods of time. You don’t mention if you’re still taking it, but you could perhaps talk to your doctor about that, or any other medication you are taking, in reference to the hypnic jerks.

      Otherwise there’s no telling how long it will continue for unfortunately. I still get them from time to time and have done for years, but they don’t really affect my sleep more than the occasional wake up jolt, so I just put up with it because I know I don’t have a more serious sleep disorder and so they are harmless.

      But if it’s really disturbing you and putting up with it isn’t an acceptable answer, perhaps have a go at implementing the self-help advice listed in the article. If that doesn’t help and it’s causing real problems for you and your partner then you could also ask your doctor for a referral to a sleep specialist.

      All the best and I hope you find a way to manage it soon.

      Ethan

  13. Sharon says:

    Hi Ethan,
    I have always gotten these on occasion for as long as I can remember. For the past year they have been much more significant, not only more frequent (i.e. probably close to daily), but also sometimes throughout the night and sometimes while I am awake. I think that it is pertinent to mention that I have significant anxiety issues relating to some old trauma that I have been trying to deal with for the past year. It seems obvious there is some relationship here. I have tried ambien as well as melatonin, but while I think I sleep through the night, I still sometimes wake my husband up with my movements and never feel rested. I have been reading about using hypnotherapy…. might give it a try..have any information about if it is effective?

    • Hi Sharon

      Sorry to hear you’ve been having a difficult time. It sounds like a few things all in the mix from what you’re describing. It could be that if you’ve always had them, you might not be able to stop them 100%, especially as they are quite a natural phenomenon.

      But I imagine it is possible that there’s a connection between the anxiety and experiencing hypnic jerks more frequently. Maybe you’ll need to put up with them a little longer until you get over the hill in the journey of dealing with the trauma? It’s hard to say really.

      As for hypnotherapy, I haven’t heard of it being used to control hypnic jerks to be honest. If anything I’ve only heard of some people experiencing hypnic jerks while being hypnotized! But it could be worth a try if you know someone who thinks it can help. I imagine it would be more useful in simply helping you relax and deal with anxiety though.

      You also mention taking sleep aids, but not feeling rested and your movements waking up your husband. Are you making movements a lot in your sleep throughout the night? If so, it could be something else causing it, which a visit to the doctor or sleep specialist might help determine.

      Or your husband could just be a light sleeper and your natural nightly movements that we all make are waking him up. That’s a problem I’ve had before as I’m such a light sleeper. And don’t forget, Melatonin is different from other sleep aids in that it is more useful for resetting the body clock (e.g. with jet-lag or delayed sleep phase syndrome) rather than just a ‘knock-out’ sleep aid.

      It’s not really my place to offer definitive advice unfortunately, especially in a comments chat. But these are just some possibilities you might like to think about.

      If you do find hypnosis helps, please do come back and tell me as I’m curious to know.

      Thanks for your comment and I wish you all the best
      Ethan

  14. Bob is my name says:

    Well this usually happens to me when something happens in my dream. Last night in, in my dream, I fell off a bench and jolted awake just before I hit the ground.

  15. Sky says:

    I started to have this kind of experience a month ago. At first I thought it was because of my workout, since the jerk only happen to the muscle group I work on. However, I really do not want to stop my workout, so I changed my workout into morning or early afternoon. but I still experienced the jerk. I stop my workout a week ago, the jerk still happens to me, but not on certain muscle group, but the whole body. I am so stressful, and do not know what I should do. I have experienced insomnia since I was young, and I am so afraid of insomnia, especially this kind of jerk. I know the more stress I get, the more jerks will happen. But it is really hard to meditate, especially when I’m about to fall asleep, I can feel that anxiety generated in my heart automatically. I want to start to workout, but I do not know if I should continue it or not.

    • Hi Sky

      I understand the problem you’re talking about, though I’m not sure I have the answer! It’s unfortunate if you’ve discovered that exercise is contributing to it, but then so is anxiety. Especially because exercise if good to help with anxiety, so if you don’t exercise, then maybe your anxiety will be worse and so the hypnic jerks continue…

      Maybe you could try to find some middle ground. Do some exercise but perhaps go easy for a week and only do light exercise during the day. Do that for a week and see if it’s any better? I know you say meditation is difficult, so maybe doing some progressive muscle relaxation exercises or simple deep breathing would be better for your anxiety? I talked about it in the article, and if you read the relaxation section you’ll find some exercises which are easy to do.

      It sounds though that maybe working on your anxiety levels would be more useful. It could be that doing heavy workouts naturally gave you hypnic jerks, and now you are worrying about them which is causing even more. Try the light exercise idea, and see if you can find some help for the anxiety. You could talk to a doctor and see what help is available. But there is also a lot of great self-help information to be found on the internet for anxiety.

      The main thing is to try not to be scared of hypnic jerks. They are quite normal, as you can see from other people talking about them here, and I’m sure you’ll find a way to settle down again and be able to exercise again:-)

      Ethan

  16. Richard says:

    These hypnic jerks have been happening to me since I was in middle school (I am now 28) and I have never really been scared of this phenomenon. They usually happen just once on any given night – and maybe 2-3 times per week. Normally, I have what I call a “mini dream” and these vary from walking and then going off a curb or slipping on ice, only for my legs to have a twitch that wakes me up. Sometimes, i have a vision that i am kicking a soccer ball and my leg twitches as well. The feeling during this twitch is really weird! I’ll be honest, i kind of like the feeling you get, because it’s not like you are just simply just lifting your leg up. It is an involuntary twitch that you physically can’t control.

    However, even though this happens to me on a regular basis, there is one sudden episode that i must recount here because it was so vivid and the biggest twitch i have ever experienced. One night, as i was drifting off to sleep, i had a mini-dream where i was looking out at a Grand Canyon landscape. I looked down and it seemed like a never-ending cliff…there was just darkness below. However, there was a type of ‘land bridge’ that was just a short jump from where i was standing. If i were to jump across the cliff, i could reach this land bridge and then walk across. I decided to jump – and as i jumped, i was halfway to the bridge, but my motion suddenly stopped…and i was suspended in mid-air for a split second…it was then that i noticed i was going to fall straight down and into the abyss. Right as i noticed this, my right leg went FLYING up in the air, and then my left leg too, went flying! ha…i will always remember that hypnic jerk as being so intense.

    PS – i really like your website. Great explanations of hypnic jerks and sleep paralysis, among other sleep-related topics. :)

    • Hi Richard

      First off thank you so much for the compliments about the website. It’s really encouraging to hear positive feedback like that, and helps inspire me to spend those endless hours researching and writing new articles:-)

      Secondly thanks for sharing your quite entertaining and uplifting story of hypnic jerks. I have to admit I’m in the same camp – I quite enjoy them when they happen. They always put a smile on my face when I realize what’s just happened, and even more so if it’s somehow connected to a dream.

      I liked your story of being frozen mid-air and realizing you were going to fall; it sounds like a cartoon moment, and I’m not surprised that moment was accompanied by a hypnic jerk!

      Thanks again for your positive comments
      Ethan

  17. Tom says:

    I’m 41 and have been having these jerks for over a month, the last few nights I only get about 4 hrs sleep each night so it’s driving me insane. I am experiencing a lot of stress at the moment due to work so I wonder if this is the cause. I have sleep apnea but don’t think that’s the cause as my sleep stats are sound. Am seeing sleep Dr. tomorrow so hopefully he sorts it out and says its just stress and knowing its not life threatening will put my mind at ease

    • Hi Tom

      Sorry to hear that you’re going through an irritating patch of having hypnic jerks. It could be related to the additional work stress as you guessed, but it’s never easy to pin-point an exact cause. I hope all goes well with the sleep doctor, and if you’re following this comment thread, it would be really useful to let me know what he says about it, if you don’t mind sharing that.

      I hope it settles soon
      Ethan

    • Mark says:

      NO question alcohol exacerbates these! If not causes them FYI. I am speaking long term not short term drinking. I quit drinking over them and if I even have one drink it sets them off for weeks much stronger! I have tested this over 16 months now, it is a fact with me. also, in naps they are much worse. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this.

      • Hi Mark

        Thanks for your comment. I think there are many possible causes of hypnic jerks, and the main thing is if you are lucky enough to find out exactly what causes them and are happy to do whatever you feel you need to do, then that’s great. Some people might prefer to drink and put up with them, so I guess it’s a personal choice.
        Regards
        Ethan

  18. Colton says:

    I’m 20 years old currently going through this tonight and in weeks past. I finally got curious enough to Google about it and found this page. Usually the hypnic jerks happen right as I feel my body about to go to sleep. Even though I’m not fully sleeping yet I still jerk awake with a gasp of air and takes me a few seconds to realize what’s going on. Also I was reading some of the symptoms and usually the days I drink coffee or energy drinks are the nights that this happens to me but not always. I’m currently in the Marine Corps and was thinking the stress from work might be why. I usually get no sleep on the nights this happens because I stay up worrying about it. Its a reliever that there is no real harm being done. Thank you for the info.

    • Hi Colton

      Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m really glad that you found the article helpful. What you described sounds very similar to my own experience of hypnic jerks; I find that caffeine, stress and also heavy exercise seem to make them more likely.

      As long as it’s only at this point that you’re having the gasp of air, it sounds like it’s probably just harmless hypnic jerks. If you’re waking up, or someone sees you, gasping for air throughout the night then you would need to get checked for a breathing sleep disorder. But I also get the gasp for air thing just at the start of the night with the jolting motion, and then sleep fine for the rest of it. So hopefully it’s the same for you and you can relax about it now.

      All the best
      Ethan

  19. Alison Creed says:

    My name is Alison, and I’m 18, and I’ve been experiencing these “jerks” since 16. I’m a senior in High School, I MAYBE get 4 hours of sleep a night, and that’s on a good night. They started around the time my parents first starting fighting about a divorce. I usually will experience them about 2 times a week. I was wondering if these jerks can be caused solely from stress? and if it’s possible to have one when you’ve been asleep for a long time?

    • Hi Alison

      Sorry to hear you’ve been having these sleep problems; 4 hours a night isn’t enough really, so I hope that improves some time soon. It’s hard to say, but I think it probably is possible to experience hypnic jerks more frequently if you’re stressed. And although more common at the beginning of the sleep process, they can occur in the middle of the night. But twice a week certainly isn’t a lot, and probably not anything to worry about. But if you’re stressed and only getting 4 hours max a night, that is something that could do with improving. Easier said than done, I know, especially in your circumstances. But hopefully you can find ways to relax and manage your stress levels.

      All the best
      Ethan

  20. Faith says:

    Hi there – I’m from New Zealand and have suffered from Hypnic Jerks for years now. I finally had to give in and go to the Doctors. I belong to a medical practice that have different doctors come through the practice which means we have doctors from South Africa, the United Kingdom and America. Not many have heard of hypnic jerks and some have and advise that there is no reason why it happens or how to fix it. I have been taking Clonazepam and this seems to work for me. I have spent many hours researching this problem and looking out for “natural” remedies but unfortunately nothing has helped. I was concerned about the stigma attached to taking any kind of sleeping pills but they help and they enable me to lead a full and happy life as opposed to being sleep deprived. It really is a form of torture!!

    • Hi Faith

      Thanks for stopping by and explaining your experience of hypnic jerks. I’m surprised that not all of the doctors have heard of hypnic jerks; it’s such a common thing, but I guess maybe some just don’t know the exact name but probably would recognize it by description.

      Anyway, I sometimes think that maybe the best natural remedy route might not involve something you take, but something you do. For example relaxation exercises, meditation, yoga or whatever appeals to you that can help reduce stress and help you relax. It might not help for everyone, but I believe it’s worth trying. And of course as I said in the article, you could try looking at the calcium and magnesium levels in your diet.

      And at the same time if you’ve found something that helps, then great. The only problem being that Clonazepam should only be used short-term usually, which means you may end up having to deal with the problem again in the future. So perhaps continue your search for a natural remedy, but as I said, have a think maybe about what you can do instead of what you can take – including looking at the typical sleep hygiene advice around exercise, alcohol, caffeine and comfort of bedding.

      All the best
      Ethan

  21. Faith says:

    Hi Ethan
    I have tried calcium and magnesium and have done yoga, breathing exercises, swimming, healthy diet – you name it I’ve done it. Unfortunately clonazepam is the only thing that works for me and I am in regular contact with my medical centre re my condition. The worst thing that anyone who suffers from this condition is sleep deprivation and nobody should have to put up with that as you have no quality of life. Sometimes prescription meds are the only solution until someone comes up with a miracle cure. I will continue on my quest to find a natural remedy.

    • Hey Faith

      I had a feeling you might have tried many things already; a lot of people have already tried plenty of techniques before they arrive at websites like this. And of course it’s down to you and your doctor to find the best solution for you, balancing your quality of life with the risks of taking medication. I hope you do find something which helps long-term though – and if you do, please remember me and come back to share the idea:-)
      All the best
      Ethan

  22. N.A.Y says:

    I remember experiencing those feelings more often in my childhood. I still do occasionally but not much. However, the thing I noticed these days is that sometimes as I drift off to sleep and would be feeling super relaxed and cosy in my bed and even start dreaming kind of then all of a sudden I’d be wide awake, which is very frustrating. Sometimes I’d experience the same thing but would feel my body muscles all sore and then have to shake or rock myself to sleep. I’m almost sure though it’s stress and fatigue related!

    • Hi N.A.Y

      Yes, it can be frustrating if they startle you awake. I think the only thing to do is to try to develop the mindset that it doesn’t matter, and you’ll soon fall asleep again. Perhaps to try to refocus on how cosy and warm the bed is, and try not to allow yourself to get bothered by the hypnic jerk. That’s what I do anyway, and it seems to work. I’m not sure if this would help with the sore body muscles though – do they stay sore, or just briefly on waking up?

  23. Jack sparrow says:

    Hello Ethan..!!!

    I’m 29 and I’ve been experiencing these intense “jerks” from couple of years ….just like I’m falling from top to the bottom…this happens always at time ,when i almost near sleep… after reading your article i find many answers,,,will try to add magnesium & calcium…I usually have less sleeping hours.., smoke daily weed (is marijuana effects in this jerks?), coffee, tea … also have some stress & anxiety as I’m a stock trader..:D, no exercise no drinking ….

    • Hi Jack

      It sounds like there are probably a few things you can do to try to reduce your hypnic jerks. But from what you say they are all going to be big life-style changes As someone in a high-stress job you will have to decide for yourself which to try to cut-down or stop, and experiment a little to see if anything helps. To answer your question, I don’t think any research has been done to examine a link between smoking marijuana and having hypnic jerks. But it is known that it can disrupt sleep – for example reducing your amount of REM sleep – despite many insomniacs finding it helpful. So you would probably have to try going without for a while and see if it helps.

      All the best
      Ethan

  24. Pedro says:

    I find it interesting that never once does your article mention a spouse/partner affected by this sleep disturbance. In fact, only one of the comments mentions a husband, to which you note that may be the husband is just a light sleeper.

    My wife has this problem. But it’s not a problem for her. She never wakes up. She wakes me up. This is not a “light sleeper” issue. My wife’s movements are violent and pronounced and a shake the entire bed. The real issue is not the person who’s dealing with this — it’s the partner of the person who’s dealing with this.

    • Hi Pedro

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you are having such problems at night. I can understand your frustration completely, and why in your case the issue is the person dealing with it. I do in fact mention in the first section of the article the possibility of being woken up by your partner. But no, I don’t talk at length about a partner being affected by it. This is because hypnic jerks are usually mild and don’t bother partners too much, if at all.

      If your wife is experiencing something so strong that you describe it as violent and which can shake the whole bed, I would suggest speaking to a doctor about this. It could be that she has a different sleep disorder in fact. And even if it is just hypnic jerks, if they are this bad it might still be beneficial to get a medical opinion.

      I hope you find a solution that can bring you some peace at night.
      Ethan

  25. Stephen Harris says:

    Hi there,

    I had a pretty horrible breakdown at work coming up to 4 years ago and have been suffering from very severe anxiety and depression ever since. The doctors have tried several different types of medication and daily dosages to help relieve the problems that I have.

    Most recently I have been prescribed Venlefaxine and in about September last year this was increased to a daily dose of 225mg. Ever since then I have been having these jerks as I fall asleep during the day. They vary from simple arm or leg jerks and twitches to full blown body jumps that feel like I have jumped a foot off the bed!!

    I didn’t know what they were called until I finally googled it today and stumbled across your great article. I have to see my Doc next week so I will mention it and see what she says.

    • Hi Stephen

      I’m glad you found the article helpful. Sorry to hear you’ve been having a difficult time these last few years. Hopefully your doctor will be able to work with you to see if any medication you are taking is contributing to the hypnic jerks. Sometimes it’s useful to take ideas with you to a doctor of what something might be that you are experiencing. They can then discount it or look into it further.

      However it turns out, I hope you can find a way to deal with the twitches if they are bothering you.
      All the best and thanks for your comment
      Ethan

  26. Larry Jones says:

    In 2007, I had experienced the worst break-up of my life and that very same summer my father and mother were living with me and Mom died of cancer. I was very depressed and had periodic thoughts of suicide. While laying on my back on the couch, very depressed, my body would have a sudden twitch that seemed to radiate from my lower spine. This has continued ever since. I had blamed the jolts on stress and fatigue.
    I have not been depressed for many years now, but I am still having the twitches. I do have lower back issues, but after reading this article, I’m tempted to visit my doctor about this now.
    The twitches happen to me a few times a day. Mostly when I am beginning to relax or fall asleep and always when I am laying on my back. But recently, it started to happen when sitting on the couch.
    I’ll let ya all know what Doc says…

    • Hi Larry

      Thanks for sharing your very personal experience of hypnic jerks. I’m not surprised you were feeling so low with all that going on for you at the time – well done for overcoming the depression!
      There’s definitely no harm in talking to your doctor about it if it’s been going on for so long. I’ll be interested to see what they say.
      Regards
      Ethan

  27. Ellen says:

    I am actually so used to these constant hypnic jerks when falling asleep, that I no longer worry about them, because they actually mean I will fall asleep soon. (Insomnia being my other problem) I don’t start getting them until I’m actually relaxed enough to sleep. So, in a weird way I feel sort of glad when they start each night.

    • Hi Ellen

      Thanks for your comment, and you know what, reading it really struck a cord with me. I’ve also suffered from insomnia for years, and you’re right – the hypnic jerks do often signify that sleep is round the corner, and so I have also felt ‘happy’ when I get them. Even though they are jolting me awake, I know that soon enough I’ll be asleep.

      So thanks for raising that point!
      Ethan

  28. Kristin says:

    This may sound weird, but I think I experience these hypnic jerks but not while I am asleep. It has only happened twice and both times I was extremely tired and on the verge of falling asleep but I was still aware of everything around me. Has this happened to anyone else? Does anyone know what it could be if not a hypnic jerk? Thanks!

    • Hi Kristin

      Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry it’s taken a while to publish it – I’ve been studying so haven’t had time to keep up with new comments until today.
      I think it is very likely it was hypnic jerks you experienced. It can be a bit fuzzy at the point of falling asleep whether you are awake, asleep or half-way there, and so if you were extremely tired and on the verge, it is more than likely the explanation. You may have been aware one moment, and in a split second started to fall asleep but had the hypnic jerk and so completely missed the point when you weren’t aware. I hope that makes sense!
      Regards
      Ethan

    • hayley says:

      Kristin, I do the same thing. If I’m laying on the couch watching TV in the early evening, my hypnic jerks will start up even when I don’t feel all that tired or sleepy. The only thing that stops it is to get up and do something. Of course, it starts back up when I’m ready to go to sleep when I go to bed.

      I also notice that the jerking is preceded by an electic like zap usually in my feet. When that hits, I know I’m going to start jerking around. To say this is the bane of my existence is an understatement!

  29. Danny says:

    I’ve had this problem for years, Its quite severe. The only thing that switched it off for me was alcohol, not that I’m recommending that. Its impossible for me to have a nap no matter how tired. So a few glasses of wine before bed is all I can do to stop it.

    I’m wondering if anyone else has problems with their ears like I do. The ears are super sensitive and play a large part in our balance. As mine and other peoples jolts seem to be the brain wrongly trying to correct something, could the rogue information be coming from our ears.

    • Hi Danny

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I apologize for the slow response. Sorry to hear it’s been a problem for you. You’re not alone in using alcohol to get to sleep more easily, though as you point out, it’s not the best idea.
      I can’t really comment on the ears theory, though it is an interesting one. I have tinnitus myself, and it developed about 2 years ago. I can’t say I’ve personally noticed a change in the frequency of hypnic jerks. But maybe other readers might have something to add on that idea. What exactly is the problem you have with your ears?
      Regards
      Ethan

      • Mark says:

        May have figured out something that will help. Electrolyte pills.. I bought one called Slatstick. Google it. Seems to be working. In the past i tried sodium or these things individually. This product has like 5 ingredients that runners use. Potassium, Sodium ect.. Try it.

        • Hi Mark,

          Thanks for that idea – it’s an interesting one. It perhaps works alongside the possibility that dehydration can be a contributor to experiencing them.

          Regards
          Ethan

  30. Emma says:

    Hi Everyone

    I’ve read all these posts and glad that I am not alone! I too suffer, and have done so for over 18 months now, from these Hypnic Jerks in varying degrees!

    But I also, and no one seems to have mentioned that, have ‘gaspings for breath’ at the same time. . . I feel that if I don’t breathe in, I will die – my heart feels as though it has stopped!

    This can go on for hours or just a few unpleasant episodes but usually it happens every night and makes me very tired the next day.

    I have come to dread going to bed – it is no longer a relaxing and safe place to be . .

    I do eventually sleep but sometimes I then wake up with a jolt gasping for breath right in the middle of a deep sleep. . .

    I will probably end up having to do a sleep study but I keep hoping it will go away. I am an anxious person and it is probably to do with stress and anxiety but I am increasingly becoming scared of going to bed and this sleep disorder in itself is only perpetuating my anxiety!

    Sometimes I have strange noises in my throat that happen involuntarily and my abdomen spasms (rather like a hiccup, without the hiccup sound) as I take an involuntary breath when I seem to have forgotten to breathe while going off to sleep!

    Anyone else have this happen as well as Hypnic Jerks or is it just me?

    Emma

    • Hi Emma

      Thank you for taking the time to describe your story. I strongly recommend going to your doctor to talk about this. Any breathing problems while sleeping should definitely be checked over by a medical professional. Without wanting to scare you, and I imagine you’ve already done some research, it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t have a serious sleep related breathing disorder such as Apnea.
      There is no harm in getting yourself checked out, and if you are at the point of being anxious about sleeping, then you will probably benefit from the peace of mind a medical opinion can give you.
      All the best
      Ethan

      • Emma says:

        Hi Ethan – thanks for responding. . . I have seen a doctor on many occasions about this but they have no idea what it is and have ruled out Sleep Apnea . .

        This is why I looked for info on this and came upon your site, which is great by-the-way . . .

        It’s comforting in a strange way to know others are going through this too . . . But I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy . . .!

        I might, as it has been suggested, go to a Sleep Clinic and see if that will help to diagnose this but I do not think that I will be relaxed enough in that strange environment all ‘wired up’ to actually sleep or even start to fall off to sleep as this would be required to actually see what’s happening with me . . . Still I never say never . . .

        Once again thanks for getting in touch. Let’s hope that this will have some kind of recognition in the future and that you and all of us on this site stop having this distressing experience just when one should be enjoying sleeping not dreading it . . . !!!!

        Regards

        Emma

        • Hi again Emma

          Thanks so much for the compliment about the site! Definitely very much appreciated:-)

          I’m glad you’ve been able to rule out apnea. I understand what you mean about sleep clinics being a strange environment. But they do understand people come with those kind of worries, so do their best to create a peaceful and comfortable environment.

          I hope you find some peace at night, whichever way you choose to deal with it.
          Regards
          Ethan

        • Dee says:

          I feel the same about a sleep clinic Emma. I’d never fall asleep in those conditions so they’d never get any info. Its so helpful to know others suffer this prob and as Denise said it def does make you question your sanity, which is not nice. Hang in there girls. We can do this.

          • Emma says:

            Hi Dee – Yes I will hang on in there . . . It’s not so much my sanity that’s in question . . . I’ve always been as mad as a hatter. . ( ha ha ). It’s more to do with the fact that – is there something more serious going on in my brain? I feel as though I am experiencing (as someone mentioned earlier) Epileptic episodes while going off to sleep! Not Grande or Petit Mals but something along the same lines . . . Thats what bothers me the most! Until I came on here that is what I thought I might have. It’s good to know that these weird ‘jerkings’ are not dangerous. . .

    • Danny says:

      Hi Ethan and thanks for the reply. I suffer from vertigo which is due to problems within the inner ear. So this causes a communication problem between my senses and brain. When awake my brain can use sight etc to adjust quickly so I just feel a bit dizzy for a second or two. As a lot of people have said the Hypnic Jerk often comes with a sense of height,falling or flying. As I’m falling asleep the communication to the brain has nothing to correct itself against so goes into full blown panic. Alcohol seems to block this problem though I’m not sure why.

      • Hi Danny

        Ok I understand…though don’t have any answers for you I’m afraid. Could it be that the alcohol helps you relax and not worry about it happening, or am I wrongly assuming you worry about it? If I’m right, then perhaps trying out some other relaxation techniques might help.

        Ethan

    • Denise says:

      Hi Emma,

      No, it’s not just you Emma, but until your post I believed that it was just me.
      The only difference is that mine is more like a desperate need/inability to swallow and it happens either after a jerk or when I am on the very edge of going to sleep.
      It feels like a spasm comes up from my stomach first. It is all very distressing and does make you afraid to go to bed. My jerks have ranged in the past two years from minor twitches, arm flinging or almost back breaking jolts through my whole body. Strangely enough although these bug me, they don’t frighten me the same as the breathing/swallowing thing.
      Some years ago I had sleep apnea for a while, but this is not the same.
      I have found a slight improvement since using magnesium, inositol and 5-htp, but it is only early days on these supplements.
      Perhaps we could keep in touch and try to help each other?

      Kind regards,

      Denise

      • Emma says:

        Hi Denise – I don’t mind keeping in touch . . . this is a horrible experience for people just when they should be at their most relaxed going off to sleep don’t you think?

        I feel your symptoms are very similar to mine and it looks like similar to others on here too. I feel it must be the same condition but just manifesting itself in different ways with different people.

        But overwhelmingly it must be due to stress even though I do not feel particularly stressed at the moment (apart from dreading going to bed. . . !) but I have had stressful and anxiety periods in my life.

        I have ruled out Sleep Apnea as my doctor asked me a few questions and did not seem to think it is that. She is completely baffled by it though and suggests a Sleep Clinic which I might do if this is never going to go away on its own. . . . I just feel that it will be a waste of time as I will never sleep away from home in a different bed and WIRED UP as well – sleep would be impossible. I would never be relaxed enough for the ‘jerks’ and gasping for breath to happen. . .

        I have never heard of this magnesium treatment – so please tell me more about it?

        As for your swallowing thing – it sounds horrible and I also get a similar involuntary swallow from time to time but haven’t experienced the inability to swallow . . . yet . . .

        Good to hear from you. Bye for now.

        Regards

        Emma

        • Hi Denise and Emma

          It’s great to see readers connecting like this:-) As this isn’t a forum, there isn’t an independent and secure way for you to connect. But if you like, you can both drop me a line with your emails and I can put you in touch that way. It’s more secure than if you put your email address in another comment.

          Let me know if you’d like to do that.

          You can use the contact us section above.

          Regards
          Ethan

          • Denise says:

            Hi Ethan,

            Firstly, many thanks for the site. Without which we would all believe that we were cracking up!
            I read all the posts and will always be on the lookout for a cure. Anything that I believe is helpful, I will post via the site.
            I have no problem with you providing my email address to Emma and will happily forward.

            Take care,

            Denise

          • Thank you for your kind words Denise, both to me and when talking to Emma. I’ll put you both in touch once Emma gives me the go-ahead.
            All the best and I look forward to the day when you come back with a cure from all your experiments:-)
            Ethan

          • Emma says:

            Ethan – how do I drop you a line with my email address without it showing up on here? I am happy to correspond with Denise. . .

            Emma

          • Hi, you can email me direct at info@nosleeplessnights.com and I’ll put you in touch
            Ethan

        • Denise says:

          Hi Emma,

          Magnesium is a very important mineral for our nerves and muscles, therefore after reading many reviews and reports, I have added it to my daily diet in liquid form. I also add a cupful of powdered magnesium to my bath water. It certainly helps you to relax.
          I am currently taking 5~htp and Inositol, both are supposed to be very effective with anxiety and the one thing I’ve learned from this site is that the majority of hypnic jerk sufferers seem to have stress or anxiety in common.
          So far, I do believe these products are helping, but I would love to know why we all seem to suffer like this. Why are we different to others?
          One thing I do believe is that not enough research has been conducted regarding this horrible affliction. My doctor had never heard of it so I took some information with me.
          We all seem to come across this great site by accident and thank goodness for its existence as I’m sure some of us must have thought we were going mad.
          Try the magnesium, 5htp and Inositol. I think they are very unlikely to do you any harm and hopefully they will help.
          I take the following daily:
          12mg of pure Inositol powder
          2 teaspoons of magnesium or 1 and a cupful of powder in my bath
          2 x 200mg tablets of natural 5~htp
          Give them at least a month before you make judgement.

          Can I ask if you find the jerks etc. worse if you are very tired? I certainly do, but of course it can be a viscious circle with the jolts keeping you awake.

          Anything further that I find to be of help, I will certainly pass on to the site. I will never give up!

          Best regards,

          Denise

          • Emma says:

            Hi Denise – thanks for your kind words. I will try the magnesium treatment . Where will I get all the ingredients you mention? A health shop?

            Emma

        • Dee says:

          Hi Emma . Obviously I can’t speak for anyone but myself but my thinking is that if it had been anything more serious it would have developed and shown itself by now as I’ve had it for about 30 years and just like you, in the beginning it seemed just too simple after believing something very wrong was happening. But all I can tell you is that in the past 10 days since I’ve had an explanation it’s happening less and less – never even had one last night and woke up so peacefully this morning it’s wonderful. Anything more serious would not respond like that. Now I’m able to reassure myself it seems my system has calmed down. I’ve also been able to recognise the scales relaxing and the spasms that jolt me awake cos now I know what I’m looking for. But that’s only me. Like I said I can’t speak for anyone else. Best wishes.

    • brendan says:

      Hello Emma,
      I started having these about 20 years ago.
      I’ll describe mine for ya, your not alone lol.
      Just as I drift of to sleep I feel a weird sensation in my chest, like an adrenalin rush , sometimes from head to toe , a split second later I jolt hard and wake gasping for breath , clutching my chest.
      When it first started , I seriously thought I was going to die in my sleep.
      Some nights, ( I’ve watched the clock lol ) , I had 6 in 4 minutes!!
      Very disturbing.
      But I’m not dead yet and it’s been fairly regular for 20 years now ( I’m 41 ).
      I’ve been to 3 cardiologists, the found nothing and one recommended a shrink lol.
      Now , I’ve researched this and some have said its a damaged Vegus nerve.
      Harmless, but that nerve runs from brain stem to ya stomach, everything is connected to everything.
      I found by trying to sleep in the fetal position stopped or slowed them down ( recommended by another sufferer.
      Being run down and not eating properly helped me a lot.
      Brendan.

      • Hi Brendan
        I’ll leave this one for Emma to reply to if she’s following the thread.
        Regards
        Ethan

      • Mark says:

        Brendan, I have had the exact same thing for 2 yrs now. I just posted does anyone have the gasp..I have it also and then sometimes just the twitching. DO you drink?

      • Emma says:

        Hi Brendan……and hi too to you Ethan and Denise who I should have replied to before now as well…..I am following the threads and I am just amazed at the amount of people experiencing this sleep disorder! If the people on here, are just a small selection with this condition who have bothered to write it down, then just imagine how many more hundreds or even thousands of people are going through this that haven’t even found this site yet!

        If this is so common, then why are doctors so ignorant of it? There perhaps should be some research done looking into the reasons why this happens to some people and not others and also a cure could be found in the future if this was taken seriously…..

        Brendan…..I can’t believe how many years you have had to suffer this! 20 years!!!! I hope my ‘jerkings’ and ‘gaspings’ don’t last that long! I sometimes wonder whether this disorder puts a strain on one’s heart as occasionally I feel a pain or pressure in the chest region after an episode…

        But what I definitely have come to realise is, that there is a common theme of stress and anxiety running through all these threads in differing forms but nevertheless we all seem to be anxious people in one way or another.

        I’m hoping this disorder will just ‘fizzle’ out in time just as my panic attacks and heart palpitations did after a few years…..

        I have tried a few of the remedies that have worked for some people on here, but they never worked for me……and the fetal position doesn’t work either….not for me anyway…

        The damaged Vegus nerve theory sounds interesting…..I’ve not heard of that before and I will try and look into that…..

        I’ve come to some kind of acceptance now and try not to get anxious at bedtime and some nights I actually manage to go to sleep without a single episode! I tend to get these attacks more when I nap or go to bed early which is strange in itself…..in theory it shouldn’t make a difference….but I still have nights where I have them every few mins from 30 mins duration to many hours of jerks and involuntary noises and breathing problems. It’s good to know that they are not dangerous as you Brendan are a testament to, after 20 years of it!

        • Hi Emma,

          Nice to hear from you again, and don’t worry about not replying until now. I am guilty of taking a month to reply to comments sometimes! Anyway, I’ll leave this conversation to you guys:-)

          Warm wishes,
          Ethan

  31. philip says:

    I think I have these experiences but reading the comments mine are a bit different just as I’m going to sleep I get a jolt but I can feel a tingling feeling in my chest and toes My head feels like it going to explode. I can have up to 4 or 5 of these before I sleep. Its scary although my muscles around my neck are always sore and with a burning sensation. Can anyone make sense of this or should I see a doctor?

    • Hi Philip

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble at night.
      Whilst everyone does tend to have slightly different experiences, my advice is always to see a doctor if you can’t be sure that whatever you are experiencing is harmless. And if you are feeling anxious about anything medical, then there is no harm in getting a professional opinion.
      The body is a complicated machine, and even though it could be possible that a simple hypnic jerk creates other symptoms, it is also possible that those symptoms are of something else. So get yourself checked out for some peace of mind:-)
      All the best and I hope you find some answers and relief
      Ethan

    • Dee says:

      Hi denise. Yes I certainly find the jerks are worsened I’m tired and when I’m v anxious. My cbt therapist told me I was hypervigilant because of the anxiety ive had since a child. Ive also seen recently thst an MRI scan can actually pick up these areas, as with post traumatic stress disorder, so I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a v sensitive soul who needs to be v gentle with myself and give myself the nurturing I missed out on as a child, which I’ve neglected to do up until now. I do think some of us are more susceptible to these things and as Ethan explains its the relaxing of muscles that causes it, I think anxious bodies are very tense and thats why we experience it more.

      • Dee – I think you were trying to reply to someone else, but have actually put the reply to Philip’s previous comment. I can’t change it either, so you can either go back and leave the comment again but to the person you intended and I will delete this one, or just leave it here.

        • Dee says:

          Sorry Ethan. I meant it for Denise. Can you copy and paste?

          • Don’t worry – no harm done:-) I can’t move the comment easily unfortunately, so you would have to re-post it in the right place yourself if you want to be sure Denise will read it. Otherwise it’s fine to leave it here, though I don’t know if she will get an alert for it. I have no idea if Philip signed up to follow comments on his comment (if so, I apologize for the influx in your email inbox!).
            Either way, don’t worry about it:-)

    • Denise says:

      Hi Emma,

      I buy all the products on line as it saves running around different shops trying to find them.
      I know the Inositol is helping as today I had a dental appointment about some bone grafts and didn’t almost pass out with fear or anxiety :-)
      Give these things a try, as I said they are unlikely to hurt you.

      Kind regards,

      Denise

  32. Dee says:

    Oh I cannot tell you the relief I’m feeling right now. I thought I was the only person suffering this condition and it’s so lovely to see how common it is. I’ve had this condition for over 20 years and it started when I was experiencing major stress in my life. I began waking from sleep with a massive gasp as though I was watching a horror film. V unpleasant. At other times I started waking feeling I was sinking and my brain interprets that as though I’m dying which is so scarey as you can imagine. This has continued over the years whenever I get very stressed and in fact has now become as much a cause for stress as the problem causing it because I haven’t been able to find a solution or an explanation and def nobody else who had the condition. So how delighted am I today to find you guys!!! Wow!!! I feel like i’ve won the lottery :-):-):-). I’ve done a lot of work on myself and have found cbt to be the best thing to help me and I never go to sleep with anything on my mind. No matter how tired I am or how late it is if somethings bothering me I deal with it before I go to sleep which always ensures I get a good nights sleep and when I wake terrified in the night I put on a relaxation CD that I fall asleep to. I have spoken only once to my GP quite recently – I always believed one day it would stop – and she just said sometimes she experienced it too and it was nothing to worry about – not v helpful. I cannot tell you the relief I feel to be able to talk about it. At times i’ve feared for my sanity and it gas been very unpleasant not knowing what the problem was. At least now I know I’m no more insane than the next person. Phew.):-):-) thank you a million times over. Words cannot say. Can I ask what your occupation is and why you started the web site. I know it seems some people are finding help through drugs but I’m hyper sensitive to any drugs so I don’t see that as an option. But I’m currently working on visualising my brain as having an overlit xmas tree in it which I turn off the lights and then see the area covered in soothing balm. It certainly feels v calming. But I’m hoping now I have an explanation it will help me to accept this condition as ‘normal’ in the circumstances. Great to be able to share. I very occasionally get the bang of the head explosion but think the hypnic jerk explains it better. Thanks again.

    • Hi Dee

      First of all thanks so much for your detailed comment, and I’m really happy to hear you’ve found comfort in this article and the comments people have left.

      Secondly I apologize for the delay in replying to you. I saw your follow-up comment wondering where I’d got to, which I won’t publish as there’s no need. I’ve been doing an intensive course this last month, and have had just about time to eat and sleep, so I had to take some time off replying to comments here, as much as it pained me to leave it! But I have my life back to normal now. I’m sorry if you thought you were being ignored:-)

      Your story is very interesting, and you raise some good points. I think you’re right about stress being something which can increase the frequency of hypnic jerks, and many other sleep problems. And yes, you very neatly describe the vicious circle which can occur when worrying about something happening. But hopefully your relief at realizing you’re not alone will perhaps set you on the path to breaking out of the circle and being able to relax when you go to bed. It sounds like you are dedicated to self-help techniques, which is fantastic…so well done you!

      I was a bit concerned when you mentioned waking up with a gasp…but hopefully you mentioned that to your GP? If not, it might be a good idea. I’m always careful when people mention any kind of breathing issues, and recommend a trip to the doctor to rule out any other problems.

      It’s nice of you to ask about me in your comment – I think you’re the first person to do that! Technically my occupation at the moment is writing and maintaining this website…if you can call that an occupation. I was working for a charity for the last 7 years, helping homeless people with severe mental health problems, but recently decided to leave and focus on my other passion – writing. I started the website because I am a long time sufferer of insomnia, amongst other sleep problems. I believe strongly that some sleep problems can be overcome most successfully by personal change, and that coincides well with the work I have done for many years. So I wanted to write about sleep, but also use my knowledge in encouraging change. But I do sometimes wonder whether I should convert this site into a forum as to be honest the best part of this site are some of the very long and interesting comment threads the readers leave! So watch this space…maybe one day it will happen:-)

      Thanks again for your kind words and I hope you sleep easier from now on.
      Ethan

      • Mark says:

        Dee I have the same exact thing. Mine are every night, it has been one year. It is horrible. Have you had a EEG?

        • Dee says:

          Hi Mark only just seen your comment. So you have the same. Not pleasant is it. Ive been much better since I learned what it was but still have periods – as I do now – after I had a coffee fir the first time in months. Big mistake. Obviously upsets the chemical balance somehow, so im really suffering at the mo. Ive never had an ECG but have thought about it. Have you? Regards.

    • Dee says:

      Thank you. What will be will be. Wont lose any sleep over it haha.

  33. Melonie says:

    I’m 58 yr old female with a long history of disturbed sleep due to pain from severe arthritis and fibromyalgia, and restless leg syndrome (which is also painful).
    I jerk awake several times a night and it’s becoming more frequent. It used to happen only once in a while but it’s becoming a nightly occurrence. I’ll jerk awake several times until I’m awake enough I can’t get back to sleep.
    Sometimes I experience a trembling sensation that is sometimes strong enough to wake me and make me think we’re having an earthquake. My husband and I ruled out several possibilities and finally did a little experiment where we set a glass of water on a tray on our bed while I lay on the bed alone. We discovered I’m the one causing the trembling I feel in the bed by observing the water in the glass “trembling”.
    Along with all that other joy, I’ve had this thing for several years where I’ll fall asleep beautifully only to come wide awake (with or without the jerk) 20 to about 45 minutes later. And I’m WIDE awake. It gets so bad, happening night after night I’ve ended up severely sleep deprived to the point of hallucinating and becoming ill.
    The jerking seems to be a whole body experience. And I feel like I’m very aware when it’s happening…for example I am awake enough I feel the large muscles throughout my body contracting in what I can only describe as a snapping feeling and then the release as they relax after a few seconds.
    At this point I’m lucky if I get 2-3 full consecutive hours of sleep a night and a total of maybe 4-5 hours and my husband says I’m getting a little wiggy!

    • Hi Melonie

      Thank you for sharing your story – it seems like a complicated set of sleep issues you’ve got going on there. It doesn’t sound pleasant at all, so it’s no wonder you’ve suffered from such sleep deprivation before.

      I have to say I loved your story of the tray of water experiment. I’m a big believer in doing creative experiments in life, so I did like that one. Though it seems like you probably already knew 99% it was you causing the trembles?

      Have you spoken to a doctor about your sleep issues? With so many, I imagine you probably have. I’d be interested to know what they thought about your circumstances – and have you been recommended to go to a sleep clinic before? The ease of accessing one varies wildly from one country to the next, but it might be useful for you. And with more prolonged trembling, it might be a good idea to rule out other possibilities like nocturnal seizures.

      Hopefully you’ll find something which helps you get the peaceful sleep you need and deserve.
      All the best
      Ethan

  34. Brennen says:

    At school when I fall asleep I get comfortable and dose off then I feel like I’m moving forward slowly then faster and faster until It feels like I bounce or stop suddenly and then my arms and legs jerk and a lot of the time my whole body jumps. Idk what to think of that

    • Hi Brennan

      Does this happen all the time at school, or just occasionally? And when does it happen? In the middle of classes or when you are somewhere where it’s ok to be sleeping?

      Ethan

  35. Dee says:

    Hi Ethan. Lovely to hear from you and fully understand yr overload. I was just getting desperate that I’d found this wonderful site and then it disappeared. :-) . I am def noticing the jerks are almost text book and I’m not worried about the gasp. My ex husband had sleep apnea and I know its def not that. Its more the fear the jerk induces as I come out of the sleep. Since understanding I’ve had far fewer incidences and am waking up peacefuly in the morning. So amazing after suffering so long. Thank you. And interestingly I’m not so worried about a coffee now as I know what the jerks are – though I also see its a bit masochistic haha – but I feel I have a choice now. I also saw what a v late night and long drive did before bed so its great to be getting proof of the diagnosis – my mind found it difficult to accept it could be so simple in the beginning and was determined to disprove the theory :-):-):-). Ha. That sorted that. I applaud you for the work you do. That’s not easy. But does make you the kind understanding person you are. My 2 daughters do the same work so I know how hard it is. God bless you Ethan you’re helping a lot if people. I understand what you’re saying about the forum but v selfishly I find it v helpful to have a v informed person at the helm. Do understand the overload though and overloads not good. Thanks again Ethan. You’ve truly made a bigger change in my life than you’ll ever know.

    • Hi again Dee

      It’s really fantastic that the knowledge alone has had such a profound effect on you. If only it was the same for everyone with all sleep problems! But when readers say that just knowing what is happening – and that they’re not alone – has made such a big difference, it always puts a big smile on my face.

      Good to hear you can rule out breathing problems too. So hopefully your new found better sleep will continue for years to come.

      Thanks again for your kind words – comments like yours help motivate me to keep writing:-)

      All the best to you and your daughters
      Ethan

  36. Dee says:

    Yes keep going Ethan its v important work. I too am a writer. Have written 3 books all still sitting on my pc…. one day I will sort them but until now I found the publishing process v difficult.one day. Maybe :-)

  37. Craig says:

    Hi,

    This is amazing.. I cannot believe the amount of comments here.. Well done for allowing people to comment.

    I am currently and have been having these Jerks now for around 3 weeks, the problem is that I have dozens of them per night just as I drift off to sleep, a body jerk will wake me and then I try again and again and again.

    I am been told that I have anxiety and depression, I am a 54 year old male.

    I had this come on September last year for two nights and after the doctor prescribed diazepam it stopped, however around 3 weeks ago after my bladder started giving me some problems (which it sill is) it has been on going every night.

    I have been told that it is to do with the “Flight or Fight” response, whereby your subconscious will not allow you to sleep, keeping you awake, a primeval system to protect you.

    Sounds like it could just be..

    I am getting a sleep study done next month as they are getting worse.. the Jerks seem to feed on stress and anxiety, which just grows and grows.. self fulfilling.

    I think I will have to increase my meds depending on what the Doctor says.

    Thanks for a great forum.

    Cheers.

    • Hi Craig

      Thank you for you comment and sharing your story.

      And thank you also for your compliments. The way I see it, the comments are more interesting than the article I wrote! So I am delighted that so many people have both found it a useful page, and also interacted to share stories, advice and provide some camaraderie. So there is no chance I will ever close the comments as long as people continue to find it a useful space to communicate.

      Back to your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having such difficulties. I’m not surprised that diazepam helped. I’ve tried it before when I had sleep problems due to anxiety, and it really does knock you out. Though I am never sure as to whether it specifically relaxes the body and stops the hypnic jerk mechanism, or simply knocks you out so you wouldn’t be aware of any spasms.

      Either way, benzodiazepines have a way of getting people through many sleep problems. The problem being though that they are not (in my opinion), the best medication to take long term. That though of course is something between you and your doctor.

      Hopefully the sleep study will provide you with some reassurance, and perhaps provide you with some practical solutions beyond medication.

      Also, as someone who is very anxious, finding ways to tackle the anxiety naturally might also be a good idea. Have a look at this section on relaxation techniques. You might find something helpful there, assuming you haven’t already explored those ideas.

      All the best, and if you have the time to come back and let us know how the sleep study went, it would be really interesting to hear from you.

      Ethan

  38. Craig says:

    Hi Ethan,

    Further to this… I there a way you could add into this forum a way to gauge a common link?

    For example, I have always been a person of worry, and of late with a few other medical issues, I have developed Anxiety..

    Perhaps this would be a commons thread ??

    Cheers.

    • Hi Craig

      I’m not sure what you mean exactly…sorry. This site isn’t a forum as such – it is more of a website/blog which just ended up having some unusually long and excellent comment threads. I don’t do any work to promote the site – I just write about topics I know people are interested in, and from time to time it turns out they are, and they then add to the article in ways I never imagined! If you have any ideas to make this article more visible though, then I am open to suggestions:-)

      Thanks
      Ethan

  39. Syed says:

    The first time it happened, I thought I was having a heart-attack. My heart was beating like mad. It was terrifying to be woken up in the middle of the night and unable to go back to sleep again. When I tried to go back to sleep, it happened yet again – that sinking feeling and I woke up – each time feeling that I narrowly escaped death. I was so scared that I couldn’t sleep at all that night. My mind went over the events of the day trying to figure out what could possibly cause this.
    It still happens but like once in a month and I don’t get scared at all since I know now that its pretty harmless – like a nightmare. A couple of things which I notice can cause this to reoccur are:
    a. Caffeine before going to bed
    b. Sleeping late at night
    c. Uncomfortable position while sleeping or a fat pillow.

    So sleep peacefully !

    • Hi Syed

      Thanks for your comment and observations. I’m glad to hear you’ve managed to come to terms with having hypnic jerks after that initial unpleasant experience. And I think you are quite possibly right about what you notice can trigger them.

      Very helpful – thank you!

      Ethan

  40. Chandler says:

    I often get hypnic jerks when I am just drifting to sleep. One memory that I usually have after one occurs is: I start to drift into that state of sleep where you don’t really care what’s happening around you, and everything goes black. Then, I get a faint picture of myself standing on top of a building, a cliff, and one time even the balcony at an opera house, and all of a sudden I’m falling from it. It sometimes lasts about 20 seconds if I remember correctly. Then, I recall seeing the ground get closer and closer. The second I hit the ground, I jerk and open my eyes quickly. Usually afterwards I scan my dark room, because when I get jerked awake it feels like someone is pushing me. There was another time when I was little, about age 7 or 8, when I was fast asleep. I had a sloth bed, a bunk bed without the bottom bunk. I remember my eyes being closed, and I had been asleep for a while. I heard the faint sound of my door moving open, and the quiet but recognizable sound of someone walking on the carpet towards my bed. There was silence for a slight moment, and right out of nowhere my pillow was jerked quickly from underneath my head. I was jerked awake, and I looked around. My door was still shut, and my pillow was back where it belonged. The months following, I was extremely paranoid. I would call my grandparents into my room every night and tell them that I thought I heard someone walking down the hallway, when no one was there. Now, as a fourteen year old, I take comfort in those walking sounds. My dad had died a year before they started occurring, he lived in that house too, and I look back and imagine that those footsteps were him, keeping an eye on me. After I would get scared, those footsteps would stop, as if he knew he was scaring me. Now, I don’t particularly believe in ghosts, but I would like to think that it was him, watching over me.

    • Hi Chandler

      Thank you for sharing this interesting and personal story of your experience of hypnic jerks. I can well imagine why you felt paranoid after all that! And I do like your interpretation, even if you don’t believe in ghosts. I’ve read a similar thing on a different comment thread on this site from a couple of people. When you do suffer a loss, such as you did, I think it’s natural to find a way to attribute strange occurrences to that, but in a nice way.

      Thanks again and best wishes
      Ethan

  41. randy lozier says:

    Medical marijuana. Smoke a little before you go to sleep and it will most likely not happen! It will relax your nervious system and you will sleep naturally. It works for me.

    • Hi Randy

      Thanks for offering this unusual piece of advice! It’s actually an interesting concept, even though some people may find it inappropriate to bring up. But marijuana is known to help relax the body and mind and help send you off to sleep. But not for everyone. And not everyone would have access to medical marijuana, or the inclination to try it either. But if it works for you, and is legally prescribed, then hopefully you can sleep well without any of the other possible negative effects it could have.

      Thanks again
      Ethan

  42. yimpy says:

    Unbelievably complicated to get a good handle on why this happens, once it starts and once it affects you to the point you cannot get sufficient sleep.

  43. Roy says:

    I am 22 yrs old .So many people like me have this hypnic jerk,and teach me a lot about it here .

    I got it when I was study in middle school, first time is lie on the desktop, it was terrible . After that ,most of time it comes, I was lied on the desktop even in bed.

    Maybe the brain is to nervous or tired when I fall to sleep , just relax will be fine.

    • Hi Roy

      Thank you for your comment, and I’m really pleased to see that you’ve found other people’s stories helpful. That’s great!
      I think you’re possibly right about nerves and tiredness resulting in more. Hopefully you’ll find a way to relax that works for you:-)
      Regards
      Ethan

  44. CJ says:

    Hi Ethan,
    Nice website. Like many others, I found this while searching for hypnic jerk cures.

    I too have started suffering from hypnic jerks. It started last September, the day after drinking beer. Since then, I have been plagued by these. Strangely, I never had them before this (aside from the occasional one as I was trying to nap in a recliner). However, that Saturday night I had them all night long. I had them next night as well. Went to the doc the next day, he prescribed clonazapam. The clonazapam stopped them. However, the next time I had beer, I noticed that I got them night after again. So, the cycle went for a while.

    I started cutting back the beer, then the caffeine, so on and so forth. Now, they come and go. I go several nights with them, a few without. I haven’t found a cure, but am still searching and hoping you & others can help.

    I’m just sort of talking out lout, but I’m going to list a few things here, in case others have some of the similar symptoms.

    Jerks are various in intensity, from very mild to moderate. They continue to plague me through the night, until I get up and take medication. The last doc took me off clonazapam and put me on mirtazapine and Gabapentene. I don’t like taking meds, so I try not to take these. However, the mirtazpine and gaba have worked to date.

    I take magnesium periodically, usually when these things kick up. I haven’t noticed a difference taking magnesium. Also, I can’t tell any difference with our without caffeine.

    They are not constant, except for happening the night after I drink beer.
    I occasionally have random muscle twitches in my body during the day. Sometimes, I will have a twitch that goes through my entire body during the day. Does anyone else have these twitches?

    You mention having these hypnic jerks. How many do you have during a night? How long do they keep you awake?

    Do you ever have muscle twitches during the day?

    I’ve seen sleep clinics mentioned, has anyone had any success with these?

    I’ve heard many people mention magnesium helps. What are the results others have had with magnesium?

    Has anyone found a definitive cure for these things?

    Since I had these (since September), I seem to be jumpier or more easily startled. Anyone else seen this?

    Anybody know of any center or doctor that has fairly extensive dealings with these?

    More questions than answers,
    CJ

    • Hi CJ

      Thanks for your comment, and first off sorry to hear you’ve been having difficulties with hypnic jerks, assuming that is what it is you have! Did your doctor comfirm that he thought it was just hypnic jerks? I’d be interested to know what he/she thought when deciding to give you such strong medication.

      In answer to some of your questions:

      Personally in recent times I only get hypnic jerks when I’m absolutely shattered. I might get a couple as I’m initially trying to get to sleep, then no more throughout the night as far as I’m aware. I know other readers get them much more though, as you seem to.

      I don’t get the muscle twitches during the day, no.

      Sleep clinics are very useful for assessing sleep disorders, and then helping you find ways to deal with whatever you might have. Depending on which county you are in, they are either private (and therefore expensive) or need a referral from a family doctor. Sometimes they run research projects, which can be a good way to get your foot in the door so to speak, if you don’t have funds for it. You can search for your local ones and see if they have anything coming up. But yes, they are good because they will have sleep specialists working there.

      I haven’t tried magnesium, but there have been a couple of other readers who talked about it before. If you look back through the comments there is one thread with 3 people discussing that which you might find helpful.

      The search for a cure goes on! Some people have ideas of what helps, but dealing with stress and making sure you get enough sleep generally seem to be amongst the best things to do.

      I hope that helps, and maybe someone else will have some answers for your questions also.

      Regards
      Ethan

  45. Craig says:

    Hi Ethan,

    Further to my comments a little while back, I have been taking Mogadon for the past 3 weeks 5mg and have taken it on and off, I have also cut down to half a tablet per night 2.5mg and am finding the Night Jerks reducing to maybe one or two and night.. However I am finding that just as i wake I have and feel a slight tremor (shaking feeling) all over my body.

    Has anyone else felt this as you wake?

    I have a sleep study booked in a couple of weeks and also an appointment with a Neurologist next week.

    I think and hope it’s just the medication.

    Cheers.

    Craig.

    • Hi Craig

      Thanks for coming back and sharing what’s been happening. It’s very interesting, and potentially useful for other readers to hear from people who are actually receiving treatment for their sleep problems.
      I personally haven’t experienced what you describe, though maybe others have.
      It would be great if you could take the time to let us know what happens with your sleep study.
      All the best with it and I hope they manage to provide you with help.
      Regards
      Ethan

  46. Angela says:

    I don’t know if this hypnic jerks I’m having, but I’m having full on body jerking (like a jolt with one of those heart machines that bring people back to life) – it happens when I’m awake though, and repeatedly, up to so many times every night. It mostly happens when I’m relaxing, like lying down resting, maybe watching tv or something. I’m also getting gasping for breath when I’m falling asleep, I wake up about 2, 3 or 4 times at night gasping for breath. Although that one doesn’t happen every night, its very scary. I’ve been to the doctor so many times I’m sick of going. I can’t find an answer. Does anyone else have big jerks when awake?

    • Hi Angela

      Sorry to hear you’ve been having such difficulties, and thank you sharing your story. Has your doctor actually given you a diagnosis or told you what they think it might be? And if they think it’s a sleep-related issue, have they suggested referring you for a sleep study?
      Thanks
      Ethan

  47. Anne Magnolia says:

    Am not sure I fall under this category. The end of Dec. I woke up with an absolute jolt from a sound sleep. For no reason flew into the kitchen – arriving there felt myself getting nauseous – and passed out – tried to get up, passed out again. I don’t remember getting back to bed – but when the alarm woke me up at 6:30 I felt fine – except my face was a mess. Went to Urgent Care – Dr. said I was fine. Didn’t mention a concussion or having a brain scan. I finally got around to telling my doctor and he’s ordered an MRI of my brain tomorrow – to rule out any damage I may have done. I feel fine except for a little balance problem. Not serious. But have suffered terrible anxiety over this – terrified it would happen again. Dr. gave me .25mg of Zanex – I take half of that a day and anxiety is greatly improved. As I said I don’t think I fall into the category but perhaps some of you have experienced this. Many thanks. And good luck to all of you.

    • Hi Anne

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your experiences. I’m really not sure whether this falls under hypnic jerks, as you also suggest. But whatever it is, it sounds like a worrying experience. So I wish you all the best with your scans and I hope everything turns out fine.
      Regards
      Ethan

  48. Cristal says:

    Thank you for the article Ethan!
    I was motivated to look this up since I just came in from lunch break, where I had been in my car trying to sneak in a nap. However every time I almost went to sleep, I jerked awake. I have something interesting to add about my problem: I only started experiencing these jerks awake after I started drinking alcohol. Then the only nights I have the leg/ body/ arm jerks is the nights I don’t have some to drink.. So this afternoon while trying to nap and obviously I hadn’t had a drink, I experienced the jerks. I have paid close attention and they only happen on the nondrinking nights and guaranteed it will happen on every one of those nondrinking drinks. . They happen immediately as I am about to go unconscious with sleep, and several times, 7-10 actually. I have tried distracting my mind, paying attention to what I am thinking as I am dozing off and it isn’t the falling or tripping in my dreams doing this. I have tried to remedy it with taking Advil PM or Benadryl but still get some jerks on those nights, not as bad but they still happen…

    • Hi Cristal

      Thanks to you also for your comment. Without wanting to sound rude or condescending (forgive me if it is!), do you think that there could be a connection between alcohol withdrawal and the spasms? You didn’t say how much you are drinking on the days you do, or how many days you drink in a row. And your particular body’s response to alcohol would also pay a part. But alcohol is known to cause various physical symptoms after sustained drinking, such as tremors, shakes, spasms etc. If you are drinking quite heavily and regularly, then it could possibly be this. But if you’re only drinking lightly and occasionally, then there could be all sorts of reasons, e.g. general health, overall sleep quality due to the alcohol (even a small amount reduces REM sleep), interaction with medication etc.
      I guess the thing is whether you are bothered enough by it to reduce how much you drink and see if they stop again. It’s a personal choice though of course. If my first comment is off the mark completely and you’re drinking sensibly, then it could just be that you’re sensitive to alcohol and it’s somehow creating the hypnic jerks.
      All I would suggest though is that you try to avoid getting into a pattern of filling every night either with alcohol or another substance. That’s a slippery slope to becoming depending on aids to get to sleep. If you’re struggling to find ways to sort out your sleep naturally, have a look at the sleep hygiene section here.
      All the best
      Ethan

      • Cristal says:

        Ethan you are spot on in your first deduction (I drink heavily). Sorry I didn’t include those details originally as there are important. I do agree with your thoughts and suggestions they make perfect sence, I will look into them. Thanks Again!!

  49. Kate says:

    I am so glad that i found this thread! I have recently started with what Im thinking may be hypnic jerks and as someone with some medical knowledge (Im an EMT), I was starting to feel as though they were heart related or that it was something more serious. These jerks occur just as I am drifting off to sleep- waking me with an unpleasant feeling. This will happen quite a few times to the point where I try to stay awake just to avoid them. It is not an every night occurence but enough to make me leary of going to bed. Eventually they do stop and I am able to just fall asleep and stay asleep but only after I feel exausted and have been fighting them off for hours. I find that the more I lie there thinking about them, the more they happen. Similarly to heart palpitations that I was having a month or two ago. Those have practically stopped so im hoping these hypnic jerks will as well. I definitely feel that they are stress related. Especially if I am thinking about something coming up the following day. Thanks for all of these postings. Theyve made me feel a bit better.

    • Hi Kate

      Thank you for your comment, and for sharing your experience of hypnic jerks. As an EMT I can only imagine the daily stress you have to deal with, as well as presumably having to do shift work.
      I totally agree that thinking about this, or any other sleep problem, can often make it worse. And even if thinking about it doesn’t directly make it worse, the worry can lead to you missing sleep, which makes you more tired, which makes you more stressed, which makes it more likely to happen…and round and round it goes!
      By the sounds of it you’ve found some solace in all the other comments here, so hopefully it will help you relax and not try to stay awake. I still think that finding a way to laugh it off, or at least accept the fact that it’s just another odd part of being human, is a great way to deal with it. It might not stop it, but it at least reduces the impact it has on you.
      All the best
      Ethan

    • Mark says:

      Drinking makes mine MUCH worse. I was drinking for years socially quite a bit. These started while I was drinking but then I quit. I still have them.

  50. Gary says:

    I only experience the jerk when I am falling asleep in my recliner. They are quite frightening and I find myself grasping my chair arms and holding on for dear life as I feel like I am falling. This sensation only lasts about twenty to thirty seconds. I believe stress is the cause and they occur less now that I am retired.

    • Hi Gary

      Thanks for your comment, and I agree that stress is a big factor. It’s interesting that you noticed a change in their frequency with retirement. Definitely a good indicator that the link is there! Sorry to hear that you have them in a way that is frightening. Hopefully they will continue to decrease as time goes by.

      Regards
      Ethan

  51. Danny says:

    Hi Ethan , I thought that I could pass a tip on to your readers. Ive had all sorts of theories about my Hypnic Jerk. So I started to film myself sleeping (not in the evening but while I was having a daytime nap). It was fascinating to watch back, during a 20 min sleep I had 6 Hypnic jerks, interestingly they followed a pattern. Snoring getting heavier and heavier and then bang the jerk kicks in. As i live alone I really was not aware that even during a nap I snore that heavily. So I’m going to see my GP next week to see what can be done. So I would recommend people to film themselves sleeping.

    • Hi Danny

      That’s a really interesting idea, thank you for sharing it. It would probably help people with many different sleep problems to record themselves and see what’s going on. What did the actual jerk look like on your video, if you don’t mind me asking? It’s also not uncommon for heavy snorers to wake themselves up, and this could be different from a hypnic jerk.

      And as always, it would be interesting to hear back from you once you’ve had advice from the GP.

      Thanks again for the interesting idea.
      Ethan

  52. Mark says:

    I have a long story will make it short. I have been in hell for the last year. These started with me last March. No one can figure out 4(Neurologists) why or get rid of them. I had started testosterone therapy a couple of months before they started. But I got off of it and they persisted. Here is the weird part. I can no longer drink or have one cup of coffee, not even decaf. If I do it will make the jerks 10 times worse. Just one beer will make them go crazy. I have been living with this for one year. It is killing me literally. I have to take Lunesta just to get a few hours sleep. If I wake up the jerks start again and I cannot get back to sleep Early morning always jerks. I also sniff… Plus I wear a CPAP just to rule out sleep apnea/ So it is not that. My whole life has been turned upside down.

    • Hi Mark

      Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m very sorry to hear you’ve had such a terrible time with your sleep problems. It sounds very bad indeed, and I do hope at some point the professionals manage to find something that helps.
      At least you’ve been able to identify some things which make it worse. Though what a pain that they are things I imagine you enjoy like most people!
      When you do find a solution, I’d be grateful if you came back and gave an update. It would be helpful to other readers I’m sure.

      I’ll leave the comments you’ve left in response to others for them to reply to. Thanks for getting involved in the conversation:-)
      All the best
      Ethan

  53. Mark says:

    And I have these every night. The moment of drifting off I can jerk so hard I hit myself in the face. Sometimes my finger my twitch, eye. foot, lip, ANYTHING! And it wakes me up. They start when my Lunesta wears off again and I fight with it for the next few hours tying to get rest.

    • Dee says:

      Hi Mark. Just found yr post and yes we do sound v similar. I’m v cross with myself cus id got to a v good place hardly any jerks and peaceful waking and because I felt so normal I fancied a coffee. Boy have I paid for that. Its incredible what one small hit of coffee can do. Ive now had 2 weeks of v unpleasant torment almost and feel generally anxious. V interested to see they couldn’t find the reason and in a way comforted as it goes back to simple cynic jerks and i’m so grateful for that explanation good luck and stay strong. Dee.

  54. Dina says:

    I sprained my ankle a week ago (almost broke it) and although I have experienced the hypnic jerk on numerous occasions throughout my lifetime, since I sprained my ankle I have had these jerks on a daily basis. My hypnic jerks are always associated with a dream of tripping over and twisting my ankle and are even as detailed as me hearing the “pop” of the muscles as the ankle twists. I usually wake up and my leg and ankle jump/jerk quite considerably, for a second I think I feel pain and then realise it’s a dream. I have injured this ankle also numerous times throughout my life. My hypnic jerks could be related to a weakened muscle and mental trauma from these falls that I’ve experienced? The only other time I have experienced there hypnic jerks are when I have fallen asleep whilst seated in the upright position e.g. in an airplane or in a car and once again they are always associated with a recurring dream. I dream that I am in a fire station and that I am a fireman. I dream that the fire alarm goes off and all the firemen, including me, scramble towards the pole that the firemen slide down to get to the lower level of the fire station. I too run towards the pole and jump out to slide down but I miss the pole! It is at this point that I wake up and find my arms and legs jerking to try and grasp the pole. I feel this kind of hypnic jerk relates to my subconscious mind trying to wake me up because I have fallen asleep in the upright position and am not in the correct position to fall asleep properly. It’s like my minds way of saying “hey!! You’re supposed to be laying down if you’re going to sleep!!” Does any of this make sense??

    • Hi Dina

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, and interesting reflections on your hypnic jerks. What you say in the first part does make sense. If you feel traumatized by all your falls, and are constantly dreaming about falling, then there is clearly something going on there! How it then transferred to hypnic jerks is the difficult part to pin down. But if you are now recovering again from a fall, it would possibly make sense that the connection is stronger at the moment?
      And poor you missing the pole in the dream! It sounds to me though that this is another example of you having a worry about injuring yourself, rather than your mind not being happy about sitting while sleeping.
      Both stories contain the falling/tripping element. I think that might be your connection. What to do about that though is a different matter. It would be interesting to know whether the frequency of the starts decreases when you go longer periods without actually having a fall.
      Thanks again for the interesting story
      Ethan

  55. Beth says:

    I read all of the comments and found it to be quite helpful but in particular, Kate’s where she mentioned heart palpitations. I suffer from terrible anxiety and it does seem to come and go. It also really seems to act up this time of the year (Spring). I had these “hypnic jerks” last night and though they don’t happen often they got me scared last night. I spent the evening worried about heart palpitations where I will take my pulse and I was skipping beats for sure. I really thought they were probably stress based. I was curious if anyone else has this issue? Also..I will admit that I am almost a daily drinker and last night I had 2 glasses of wine close to bed. I noticed some people mention it helps and others suggest it doesn’t. Wondering about that especially with the man and the beer comment. One thing I can say for certain is I am a VERY stressed person and this seems to be a big key factor in a lot of comments. Just wondering if other people notice a time of the year when it happens more and any other factors. Much appreciated!!!

    • Hi Beth

      Thanks for sharing your story, and sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with anxiety to this extent. I won’t comment too much, but leave it for other readers to hopefully reply to since you’ve asked an open question. But on a personal level, I’ve never noticed a time of year connection. But stress definitely!
      Regards
      Ethan

  56. dee says:

    Hi Ethan. Hope all is well with you. Just wanted to relay something I read abt nightmares in the paper ysdy – apparently the muscles become paralysed during rem sleep – which is also when the jerks occur as I understand, I think this further confirms what happens when we jerk, Im assuming the brain is sensing the muscle paralysis and is jerking us awake to keep us safe. V clever the body.

    • Hi Dee

      Nice to hear from you again. I’d be interested to read that article – is there a link to an online newspaper?
      Yes the muscles are supposed to be locked down during REM sleep, partly to prevent you from acting out your dreams, and potentially injuring yourself (something which can happen in REM sleep behavior disorder).

      But the hypnic jerks as I understand it most commonly happen when you are falling asleep, not in REM sleep. They may occur during that stage, but most commonly they occur as you are entering the earlier stages of sleep. So I don’t think it’s necessarily the brain trying to keep us awake. That would mean the body is fighting its own natural process of going to sleep, which I don’t believe is the case.
      Thanks for the idea though, and I hope all is well.
      Ethan

      • Dee says:

        Hi Ethan. Sorry I haven’t been on for a while but newspaper was daily mail ad would prob have been that day or day before – 3rd oR 4th april. Am seeing how coffee affects me at the mo. 1 cup after several months set the whole thing off again so I’m not happy but hey if it puts me back in touch with you guys and gives me another opportunity to practice facing and accepting it again. Was interested in yr reply. Thanks for that. Hope all is well with you. Blessings.

        • Hi Dee

          Nice to hear from you again, though sorry to hear you’ve had them again recently. Sounds like you need to stay off the caffeine!
          You’re welcome for the reply. Take care and hopefully it will pass quickly again.
          Ethan

  57. Kate says:

    I have been startling awake for 2 hours every night but there is no muscle jerk. I start to drift off to sleep and suddenly I am awake. It sounds like the hypnic jerks except I know I am not jerking. I have had jerking on occasion so I know what it is. It was not as bothersome as these startles.

    I have been tired from RLS for a long time but this startling is new. I finally fall asleep and maybe sleep an hour and then the RLS wakes me up. I get very little sleep and can no longer work. I can’t even focus to drive safely.

    I am waiting to get into a sleep clinic. This is a rural area and I don’t have a lot of hope that anybody around here will have a clue. My sister wants me to try to travel to a better sleep center in a bigger city but that is impossible. I don’t have the money or the energy. My husband left me and it’s just me and my 2 teenagers struggling along.

    By the way, I am post menopausal. Sometimes I wonder if this could be hormonal.

    • Hi Kate

      Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having a tough time. I guess with the sleep clinic it’s a difficult decision: do you save the money and wait until you do have the funds to get to a better one. Or just go with it for now and hope they can help? Have you done much research on who works in the clinic, and what experience/specialisms they have? You never know, they could be very good there. Just because it’s rural doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t good. Medical professionals don’t always want to live in the big cities, so sometimes you can find really good people in isolated areas. I would do some research on them – assuming you haven’t done much so far – before deciding one way or the other. Also, I don’t know which country you are in, but in many places, sleep clinics will do research projects. In the UK for example, most clinics have research projects going on. So it’s not impossible to do some ringing around and see if you can find one researching your particular sleep problems.
      In the meantime, maybe try some of the things you can do for free or cheap…like look at your nutrition, stress/anxiety, exercise, relaxation etc.
      Good luck and I hope you do find the help you need.
      Ethan

      • Kate says:

        Thanks, Ethan. I did go to the clinic closest to me and found it to be very unhelpful. No interest in a possible hormonal connection. Willing to go straight to trying Ambien alternating with Vicodin without trying to get to the cause. They did say I could try a sleep study or just go straight to the drugs. Not very responsive to my questions. Also, the building is being renovated and I listened to hammering and drilling and banging the whole time I was there. Not going back. I have a friend whose husband went to a sleep clinic about an hour away and said he was happy with it. I can’t drive myself that far, but one of my children can when they can get off work. So I guess I will ask my doctor to refer me to that one. Hope she will. It is not in her network. I really want to get to the bottom of why this is happening. Not just patch it with drugs. And believe me, I have already looked at nutrition, exercise, all that stuff with my primary doctor. I have a very healthy lifestyle. Yoga, healthy diet, meditation, etc. This just came out of the blue. Well, actually, I think it came out of menopause since that’s when it started. I was surprised and dismayed to have that completely dismissed at the sleep center.

        • Hi Kate

          Sorry it’s taken me ages to reply. I’ve been exceptionally busy. It’s a shame you didn’t get the help you were hoping for. Have you been to try out the other center yet, or do you need to wait a while for the referral?
          Regards
          Ethan

  58. Carolyn says:

    I am a 38 y/o female and I have had the jerks for as long as I can remember, I’ve actually had them so long that a lot of the time they don’t wake me anymore, so I truly wasn’t worried about them until last night when I woke up because it felt like my heart had been shocked, I was awake a while because it scared me and I couldn’t even tell if my heart was beating anymore. After I finally calmed down enough to get back to sleep I woke up a while later choking and so scared to take a breath because it felt like if I breathed in I would choke to death. I did eventually clear the fluid I was choking on and got back to sleep an hour or so later. I have never had either of these experiences before and I thought I would share a bit of them. Should probably note that I have tendencies toward anxiety but last night I was not anxious/stressed so I’m not sure what the cause for the difference is.

    • Hi Carolyn

      Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to you. And that sound very scary indeed. Have you spoken to a doctor about this? If you haven’t then it might be a good idea.

      Regards
      Ethan

  59. daniel says:

    Hi, I have this problem of hypnic jerks since forever or at least for as long as I can remember. I get these jerks at least 4 5 times every night I feel like I am falling from a building or throwing a ball or catching a ball or getting hit by a ball etc. I don’t even have any sleeping problems I work from home so I get to sleep a lot I don’t really have any stress realated issues either neither do I drink, I just smoke and that also just 3 4 cigarettes a day plus i don’t take caeffine either my bed is highly comfortable so I don’t know what’s wrong do you think there is anything to be worried about should I go see a doctor?

    • Hi Daniel

      It’s probably just the harmless hypnic jerks that many people experience. You can always visit a doctor to give you peace of mind, but they are probably unlikely to do anything if they think it is just hypnic jerks.
      Regards
      Ethan

  60. Al Brown says:

    Hello,

    I’ve done a lot of internet research. There are some meds that make it worse.

    Treatment meds (in order of likely efficacy):
    Valproic acid is drug of choice, also still primidone.

    May respond to benzodiazepines e.g. clonazepam.

    • Hi Al
      Thanks for your comment. You list a couple of medications which can be used as a treatment. Which ones have you found make it worse in your research?
      Thanks
      Ethan

  61. Every Night Imma a Jerkin' says:

    Sorry for the silly name, I couldn’t resist!

    I started to have hypnic jerks (repetitive) in December. Before that it’d be just one and then I’d fall asleep, but since December it’d happen all through the night. Some nights I couldn’t fall asleep at all. My hypnic jerks would be accompanied with a sense of dread/panic. More I would get them the more my heart rate would go up and I’d have adrenaline pumping and I’d need to start running for the toilet about once an hour to wee. I would also get bouts of hypoglycemia, where I would shake as I got so hungry. For this, super-regular mealtimes were beneficial and a light snack before bed.

    I’m not sure if my jerks were due to anxiety or if the tiredness caused by them caused my anxiety. Either way, they are very disruptive.

    I’ve stopped drinking anything caffeinated, I’ve cut down on my sugar intake and am having less carbs and more veggies. I don’t know if these changes have helped, but they certainly make me feel more “well” during the day.

    I’ve tried natural sleep remedies (apart from melatonin since I can’t get it without prescription here) and they don’t help. I do yoga, breathing and mindfulness exercises that help somewhat, but not really. I’ve refused sleeping pills and anxiety medication. I have taken some St Johns Wort and Ashwaghandha and these have seem to have lifted my spirits and calm me down somewhat. But I’ve now stopped both (St John Wort causes me to be super sensitive to sun, so I’d just burn during summer using it plus I get easily Vit D deficient [something that shouldn't be overlooked when looking into sleep problems, by the way] so I need all the sun exposure I can get) and the uneasiness seems to be creeping up again. Or maybe it’s just me worrying about it coming back that’s making it return. Who knows.

    My hypnic jerks almost went away for about two months since February, but they have just returned. I dunno if this has something to do with stopping those remedies or something else physical or some other deficiency (I am taking Vit D every day).

    I have noticed that cutting down on my salt intake helps too as my blood pressure stays down.

    Anyway this is my two pence on the subject… I tried to be as detailed as possible. Thank you for your website!

    • Hiyah,

      Don’t worry about the silly name – I’m use to them now! Thank you for your detailed comment, and it’s interesting to see all the effort you’ve put into trying to find a solution. I’m sure other readers will also have a think about some of the things you’ve said helped or not.
      It’s a tricky one, trying to work out what role anxiety can have, with the classic ‘chicken or the egg first’ situation that often arises.
      I imagine that the key is to keep working on the positive things you do to control anxiety. Maybe you’ll have some set-backs, but in the long-run if you keep tackling it in a positive and determined way, hopefully you will see improvements.
      All the best
      Ethan

  62. Sally says:

    Thank God I have found this article. For the longest time I have been thinking that a ghost was shaking me awake. I have severe whatever these are and have been sleep deprived and depressed for 10 years. Just did an overnight sleep test a few days ago and hopefully I will get some drugs that will help me…

    • Hi Sally,

      I think you can probably eliminate the ghost theory now. Though you are not the first person to put it down to a supernatural explanation when you haven’t heard the biological explanation before.
      I’ll be hoping for you that the sleep test sets you on the track to sleeping better.
      Regards
      Ethan

  63. Mike M says:

    I worry about going blind when I fall asleep. This causes me to jolt myself awake. Even though I’m fairly certain it’s not possible to go blind in your sleep I can’t get this thought out of my head!!

    • Hi Mike

      I’m pretty sure it’s unlikely to happen. Whatever the cause for your worry, you might find talking to a counselor about it could help you overcome it.
      Regards
      Ethan

  64. Ryan Kennedy says:

    I’ve been having these hypnic jerks for almost 5 years my wife says. They don’t bug me but the do disturb her all the time. The 1 thing that I don’t see is this happening all night, I’m told mine happen all the time (not constantly but often during the night) and rarely do I get woken up from them only when I’m trying to take a nap. Our just at the beginning of the night. I’m also having issues keeping my eyes open while driving but only around mid day which I’ve read is some what normal but I’m not sure there isn’t an underlying problem. I’ve never been to a specialist and this is my first attempt to reach out on the subject. Thank you for the thread although I’ve never worried about the problem it’s nice to see I’m not alone. Good luck to everyone and make light of the situation don’t let it overcome you.

    • Hi Ryan

      Thanks for the comment and positive words to other readers. I’m glad you are able to see it in a light-hearted way. Though I’m not so sure the eyes closing while driving is something to see the same way! Remember to drive sensibly!
      Regards
      Ethan

  65. Corey says:

    Hey all, thought I would share my recent experiences as I came across this today. I am 27yo male and work in IT so sitting all day and have potential to slouch over my desk.

    Since December I have been getting a lot of pressure in the head and headaches that lasted days and only went away when I was asleep. I thought it was related to Beer as when I drank I would get almost a handover type headache after 2 beers so I tried more natural beers that have no preservatives added. Sadly no massive change after Xmas so I went to my GP and they thought I had a sinus infection, so started me on antibiotics. Soon it went but seemed to come back. I was also told I have very poor posture so I started to go to a Physio and do massage. I recently had some role changes at work that increased my stress and buying my first home so a lot of anxiety was thrown into the mix.
    Physio did not seem to help, the massage and dry needling did release a lot of tension I had in my back.
    Sadly the head pressure came back again worse than ever, of course all sorts off bad things come to mind when you get something like this so back to the GP again. She referred me to a ENT doctor to get sinus checked and ordered CT scans of brain and neck and sinus, all clear but CT of sinus showed a deviated septum. Off I went to ENT specialist and he found no signs of infection, he even added he thought I was a bit of a worrier and suggested I look into ways to relax more and release my stress. To start I started taking magnesium supplements, this does seem to help a bit and decided to try and tune out more when at home from work.

    Still worried I went back to the GP to ask for more help, pressure in head by this stage was not subsiding. I had put in for 2 weeks leave off work over Easter so thought this would be good time to relax also if indeed it was just a buildup of stress.
    GP decided to prescribe me a low dose of Endep (Amitriptyline) used to treat depression traditionally but also for nerve and muscle pain. This was mainly as my neck at this stage was also really stiff and was thought to be the cause of the pressure, hope was to relax the muscles in this case. Bad news was some side affects to the drug and 2-4 weeks was needed to show any improvement. First 12 days were bad, and these “jerks” started in first 3 days of taking it. I would start to fall asleep, feel a rush of awareness hit me like a tingling sensation up my spine almost as if I was asleep when I was aware of it happening but I suddenly wide awake, not jolted awake but thoughts started to flow into mind again . It was met with tingling and pins and needles, random highs and lows in my temperature and chest pain. After this I also did what I do best and started to stress about my heart, my mother has high blood pressure so I used her machine to test and all normal. I have not had an ECG but she said welcome to the club, she also gets these jerks from time to time.

    Well after speaking to friends about my neck stiffness a lot suggested I see a chiropractor or myotherapist. Today was my first day getting an adjustment and he said I had some Vertebral subluxation and with some adjustments and myotherapist visits he aims to improve my posture and muscle tension. He also said to keep up with the magnesium supplements as they are good to help relax and to start looking at taking Omega3 and VitaminD supplements too, with more exercise, more intake of water, back and neck exercises, and of course aim for better posture.
    Fingers crossed, I am a bit skeptical but I was not comfortable on the endep and tonight is the first night I have been off it in 15 days and I’m up at 3am as I am getting these jerks again when trying to fall asleep. This time more specific chest pain, as someone else mentioned I think, above the left pec seems to ache and I am getting sharp bouts of pain in toes, feet and fingers (all over body really) and feel really weak if lying down. I sit up and feel fine again, yet I do not feel tired like I need to sleep. ( May be due to me being on leave and sleeping in a bit each day)

    Anyways that is where I am at so thought I would share as others have helped relieve some anxiety from knowing this can be normal and has a name. (I am a very analytical person so research everything, good old dr google, can be good and bad)
    A lot of this all does make sense to me in a way, holding the tension in the neck and back puts a lot of pressure on the body, and thus mixed with everyday things like work and personal stress etc, gets us all down including our immune system and thus other parts of the body. I just hope that in coming weeks of chiro from now I am back to being 100%

    • Hi Corey

      Thank you for sharing your story in such depth. And as you say, perhaps other readers will connect in some way with something you have said. I am having to scale back my responses to long comments due to time constraints unfortunately, so I will just say thank you for sharing and wish you all the best. I hope that the medical professionals get you back to 100%. Incidentally my aunt is a chiropractor, and I personally have great respect for that profession!
      Regards
      Ethan

  66. tristan says:

    im 12 i thought it was just me who got these their kind of scary they happen every night and i never know when their gonna happen lol

    • Hi Tristan

      You’re definitely not alone! Hopefully you can relax now you know that it’s probably just the normal hypnic jerks that most people experience.
      All the best
      Ethan

  67. Maria says:

    Thank you, Ethan, for your article on hypnic jerks. When they are problematic, I think they might stem from trauma. I’ll explain by sharing my story in the hope it might help others.

    This is long, I know. Bear with me.

    I’ve experienced hypnic jerks throughout my life. They were never problematic, just a normal part of falling asleep (minor twitches that did not wake me). 2.5 years ago I was in a life-threatening bicycle accident. It was late at night, there were no witnesses, and I have no memories of it. I do know I was found unconscious and somebody called for an ambulance. The only thing I remember is waking up hours later in the emergency department. I have no idea what happened. My face was broken: my zygomatic and maxilla bones were shattered and displaced about one inch, I had an orbital fracture, and nerves in the area were severely damaged. One week later I had a nearly 7-hour surgery. I had a very good surgeon and recovered relatively quickly. I never learned what happened.

    Fast-forward two years and strange things started happening. I developed an extreme sensitivity to heights and specifically the idea of falling. Stadium seating felt too steep and dangerous. Ski chair lifts which I had ridden all my life suddenly gave me intense terror while on them. I associated all of this with falling. I felt very afraid of the sensation or possibility of falling. I knew something was very wrong when I couldn’t enjoy a ski trip, as I’ve loved skiing since I was a kid. I didn’t realize it, but I was experiencing panic attacks. I thought stress and worry caused panic attacks, yet I was not consciously stressed or worried. The terror came out of the blue, yet always felt related to falling.

    Two weeks after the fear-ridden ski trip I saw the movie Captain Phillips. The final scene was completely overwhelming to me. My body began to tremble and shake uncontrollably (the shakes were large movements, not minor shivers). And I was sobbing uncontrollably. All I could think was, “That’s me. That WAS me. That happened to me.” It was so overwhelming I closed my eyes and put my hands over my face as I shook and sobbed. The movie finished, I left the theater, and I sat in my car trembling for another 20 minutes before I drove home.

    Within a week I was having major sleep disturbances: waking with a startle or a hypnic jerk accompanied by surges of adrenaline that I could feel course through my body. I sometimes experienced a choking sensation too or like a heavy weight was on my chest that I needed to get out from under. I also woke up on occasion with what I can only describe as a snarl or contortion on my face. My nostrils were flared and my upper lip was raised…the sort of face you make when you are about to burst into tears. I was not consciously afraid of anything. I was feeling the physical symptoms of fear and was thus afraid. I was not having nightmares or troubling thoughts prior to sleeping nor during sleep. It seemed that my body had a mind of its own and it wasn’t letting me sleep.

    I started trying to find professional help. And of course googling. I learned I was experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). [Note: memories of a traumatic event are not necessary to develop PTSD or other symptoms of trauma.] I was not consciously worried or stressed, but my body was clearly not ok. I needed to sleep! I began seeing a psychologist, an acupuncturist, and a massage therapist specializing in structural integration (a.k.a. Rolfing). I knew something was really wrong and I needed to figure it out and get better.

    I’ve continued to see the psychologist and Rolfer and have now read scores of scholarly articles and books on trauma and PTSD. It’s been two months and I still experience these intense and terrifying hypnic jerks that won’t let me sleep about once a week (it used to be nightly), but I am now certain mine stem from trauma…in my case, the bike accident. My approach is to ride them out and try to really become aware of my body sensations. But if it’s a week night and I need to function the next day at work I will take alprazolam (a benzodiazepine) when they are too bad to ride out (i.e., won’t let me get back to sleep within 1-2 hours). If it’s Friday or Saturday night, I just ride it out and practice noticing my body sensations and not being scared by it.

    Some helpful things I’ve learned:

    What makes it WORSE
    1) caffeine
    2) alcohol
    3) working until I go to bed
    4) exercising too late in the day
    5) ignoring and pushing through my first wave of sleepiness in the evening (i.e., staying up past my bedtime)

    The common denominator of all these things is they activate your sympathetic nervous system which activates your adrenal glands.

    What makes it BETTER
    1) sticking to the same bedtime every night…even if I don’t feel tired
    2) practicing listening to my body and noting my sensations, saying to myself things such as, “I notice my heart is beating faster. I notice my legs are feeling shaky. I notice my abdomen feels tight.”
    3) knowing my body won’t hurt me, it’s only trying to tell me something
    4) Rolfing (structural integration) body work

    The common denominator here is listening to and respecting the body. Trauma is centered in the body and the body systems are integral to healing.

    If you experience hypnic jerks in a severe and troubling way, I suggest looking in to trauma as a possible cause. Keep in mind that trauma isn’t always what we think it is. I highly recommend books/articles by Robert Scaer (neurologist), Peter Levine (psychologist), and Francine Shapiro (psychologist). All have a different professional perspective, all have a highly informed view of trauma and the mind/body systems involved, and all write clearly on the subject.

    I hope what I have written here might help somebody else.

    Kind wishes to you all.

    Maria

    • Hi Maria,

      Thank you very much for your very personal story and taking the time to leave such a long comment. First of all, sorry to hear you’ve been through such a horrible experience and that it had such a profound effect on you. But well done for all the positive action you have taken to try to deal with it. That in itself is an inspiration.

      Your trauma theory is an interesting one, and I don’t doubt that for some people it could well play a role – especially in creating anxiety-related problems. But I’m not sure every reader who gets hypnic jerks needs to start wondering whether they’ve been exposed to a trauma they’ve forgotten about or not recognized fully. It can be tempting when you find an answer that works for you, to then apply it to everyone else. But hypnic jerks are an extremely common phenomenon, and often not related to much other than some of the things you rightly list such as caffeine or sleep deprivation.

      Even though you say to look into it if they are ‘problematic’, the difficulty is that some people will label just 1 or 2 jerks as problematic, when actually it’s perfectly normal.

      However, you have a lot of good advice in your comment, so perhaps someone reading this who has been having a troubling time might find it useful. I just don’t want every reader to start questioning whether they need to see a counsellor!

      Thanks again though for the time it took you and thought you put into the comment. And I hope you manage to continue making progress.

      Very warm wishes
      Ethan

  68. Ryan says:

    as long as I can remember I have been jolting up when I sleep. Maybe a couple of times a night. I literally jump out of bed wide awake and Alert . night after night I can’t fall asleep till 2 or 3, and when I do fall asleep I jolt up like every hour till wake up, which is around 5:30. My family used to wake me up just to see me Jerk awake. I don’t know what it is. During the day I’m always alert and looking around always scanning what’s around me. I don’t know if I have anxiety or what. Also when I fall asleep in the car I get the falling sensation that some other described in this thread. I have a healthy diet, exercise, and haven’t had any traumatic experiences in my life. any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Ryan

      Thanks for your comment. If you think you might have anxiety, then there is always the possibility you do in one way or another. You could always try looking into some of the relaxation exercises we have on this site. And if you look back through the other readers’ comments you’ll also find a wealth of theories, ideas and advice you can have a think about.
      All the best
      Ethan

  69. Dee says:

    Hi Ethan did you get my msg abt the newspaper article? I don’t see it above. I also sent a couple of msg to Mark in response to his comments and don’t see them either. Never am sure if things go thru as connection fails some times. Hope all is all with you. Dee.

  70. Charlie says:

    Over my life I have experienced all of the described symptoms. As a child I regularly had the terrifying falling experince, only to wake with a jolt, but the worst was waking suddenly from a ‘presence’in the room, but completely without voice..unable to scream out.
    As I grew up the jolt awake, after the falling experience, was a regular occurrence. When I got married, my wife would wake with a sudden muscular spasm, here described as a hypnic jerk. After a few of these, I noticed that my falling experiences dwindled and I too was getting the same ‘jolt’ awake as my wife. I thought at the time that it was sudden release of electricity in the brain as a more controlled version of epilepsy and was transferable as electric behaviour can be. I also had a few years when I suffered sleep apnoea and that was truly horrific. There have been countless times that I have been awoken by the ‘exploding brain’ syndrome, but I eventually learnt to stop getting out of bed to search for intruders.
    Over the years the jolt has become stronger and more frequent, however it is always worse when fallig asleep sitting up on the sofa, which now I am in my mid 60’s, is everyday. There have been a few times when the jolt was so violent, the laptop on my knee was thrown across the room. (fortunately never damaged)
    For the last 35 years, I have been plagued by restless legs which involves grinding my knees and my hips. This wakes me several times a night.
    My GP has prescribed Amimtriptyline to aid sleep, but it is not nice sleep and I feel over-tired the next day.
    What I would really like is just a few nights,in my life, of around 8 hours of undisturbed natural sleep.
    Just to know what it feels like.

    • Hi Charlie

      Thank you for your comment and sharing your story. And I think you must have some kind of record (not the nicest one of course…) for the most sleep disorders ever experienced by one person! I’m not surprised you’re yearning for a few good night’s sleep with all of that going on. Has your doctor ever suggested getting a sleep study done? I imagine you’ve probably seen specialists during the apnea stags, but still, it might be worth re-visiting them if you still have such difficulty sleeping.
      Otherwise I hope your GP manages to work with you to find something which helps, and that you find tolerable. And if you read the comments here, you might find something useful from one of the other readers who have been kind enough to share their thoughts.
      All the best
      Ethan

  71. Joan says:

    Just found this site! In response to Denise (aug 29 2013)….you are the first person i’ve found who has a similar experience to myself….when drifting to sleep I suddenly have to “sit up” and “swallow” in order “to breathe” again….this is made difficult by the fact that my mouth/throat is completely “dry”….I call it my “dying mode”…it is so frightening/distressing. It may not happen for months or it may happen 3 or 4 nights in a row…there is no pattern to it….sometimes it happens if i “nod off” in the chair or in the car (as a passenger of course!) I think it may happen when i am very tired/relaxed….i have thought it may be related to the fact that i have asthma….sometimes when it happens my whole body goes “completeley cold” and I find i need to wrap up in a fleecy dressing gown (even in the height of summer)….i find if i get up and have a cup of tea then take a “heat pad” back to bed to “cuddle” it helps me “drift off” to sleep……..i never go to bed thinking that it “may happen” so it cant be the fact that i’m anxious about it….when it does happen though it is the most frightening experience ever!! good luck to all!!

    • Hi Joan

      Thanks for the comment, and sorry to hear you also have unpleasant moments due to hypnic jerks. Again, I would recommend talking to a doctor if you have any kind of breathing issues in your sleep.
      Perhaps Denise will come back and reply…otherwise you can leave a comment directly on her’s rather than here, as she may be following that thread rather than this one.
      Regards
      Ethan

  72. Annie says:

    I started experiencing this last week the night after a horrible hangover from binge drinking. I’m an anxious person in general, and bad hangovers make things much worse. So this definitely seems stress related. At any rate, this has been debilitating — there are nights where I do not sleep at all because I physically cannot fall asleep without being jerked awaken. Not feeling great right now ans not sure what to do.

    • Hi Annie
      Thank you for the comment and sharing. Hopefully if you hadn’t has them before, then you can find a way to go back to not having them. Obviously try not drinking for a while and see if it settles down again. And try not to start stressing about it, though I know that’s harder to do than simply deciding not to. Perhaps try some of the relaxation techniques I’ve mentioned previously in this post. You can do them in bed to try to help you deal with the stress before sleeping.
      All the best
      Ethan

  73. joe says:

    I have had a hypnic jerk before. I had one last night where I was staying awake all night and close to morning I lied down and closed my eyes. I was still awake in my mind but the hypnic jerk just happened.
    I had one where I left my heater on at night. it turns on and off automatically by temperature settings. I had a hypnic jerk when it happened.
    I was watching video of one man and he had done astral projections a lot. He said the hypnic jerk happens when a demon tries to get you to come out of the body.

    • Hi Joe

      Thanks for your comment. I sometimes wonder whether hypnic jerks are sometimes caused by your brain being startled, such as with an unexpected noise as you suggested.
      Personally I think that the demon theory is very silly, and I’m not going to publish the video you suggested as the guy is, in my opinion, talking nonsense and using it as a very bizarre opportunity to do what he really wants to do and promote his particular religious ideology. Sorry!
      Regards
      Ethan

      • Mark says:

        Quick comment. I said a prayer after 90 straight days of jerks. I had not prayed in 30 years. They went totally away for weeks. Still have them not near as bad here and there and I have my opinions about why I have them out of no where. Take it for what it is but they stopped cold turkey for weeks after I said my prayer. No one is more shocked than me.

  74. Ralph Hogan says:

    Hi Ethan and thanks for initiating such an intriguing discussion, it never ceases to amaze me the extent of suffering which many people must endure because of the appalling lack of information and care provided by the medical fraternity. If a condition is not regarded as directly connected to something serious it simply isn’t investigated and yet it’s in these peripheral conditions where so many bigger answers lie. I often experience hypnic jerks and I know for me they are a clear alert of an overstressed nervous system, nothing else. Like all such neurological reactions they can be exacerbated by, or triggered by alcohol, tiredness etc. but the real problem lies elsewhere. I believe that many of of us don’t realise how deeply and insidiously we have ben affected by trauma. Like some of your other correspondents I suffered a traumatic childhood which provides a clear explanation for my problems but unfortunately many people like me often develop far too sucessful compensatory techniques to survive; like hair-trigger aggression, trusting only in empirical rationalisation, elaborate fantasizing, intellectualisation, etc., and these become so critical to our survival that we don’t know how to switch them off when we grow up. We believe that because we can now fully acknowledge the cause and effect of trauma, therefore we must have dismantled it and we neednt’t look further. But I know from first hand experience that it’s often the person who has been the most superficially successful at resolving trauma, and who thinks they’re over it, who has the greatest unresolved problems.
    It was a violent hypnic jerk which presaged the worst experience of my life, my first and completely debilitating episode of essential myoclonus, a very loud repetitive “put-putting” in my ear which continued day and night for three months and had me in the end, mentally and physically so scared and exhausted that I lay curled up on the floor in foetal position trying to re-connect enough of my brain together to work out a way to kill myself. And all the while doctors and esteemed physicians basically stood by almost contemptuously, and told me to get over it because it wasn’t a “life threatening” condition. They couldn’t hear or see it so if I tried hard presumably nor would I! Normally I experience jerks falling asleep but this one occurred as I woke up very suddenly, just after falling asleep whilst listening to a mind entrainment tape, (as suggested I think perhaps unwisely, in your link on relaxation techniques). The system was Holosync and I have since found out that many other users have experienced equally distressing consequences by donning head phones and effectively installing a dangerous “brain virus” in their subconscious. And these new neural pathways can become permanently susceptible to high levels of stress. I still curse myself for being so lazy as to want to to expedite my lacklustre attempts at achieving deeper mediation this way. I’ve since had another two horrendous 4 month long myoclonal episodes, which just proves that the brain and our central nervous system are not to be casually experimented with and that even seemingly minor nervous reactions like hypnic jerks are connected back into a far more complex neurological matrix, one which currently the medical fraternity at large is not prepared to investigate.

    • Hi Ralph

      First of all, thank you for your very well written and interesting comment. You have clearly thought about hypnic jerks and the other issues you mention at length, as is only natural having been through so much.
      I am slowly winding down the length of replies I give to people on this particular thread because of the sheer quantity of time it takes to think about what I want to say, and then write it. So please don’t take offense if your long comment doesn’t receive a long reply. However, I imagine one or two other readers, either past or future, will connect with what you have said.
      It’s interesting that the trauma theory has recently surfaced with a couple of readers. I might do a bit of research into your ideas and see what turns up.
      And interestingly enough, I recently removed the brainwave entrainment section on the relaxation techniques page. Not because I think it’s bad for you though, but because feedback has told me that people found the other techniques more helpful.
      Thanks again for sharing your personal story, and I wish you all the best and an end to the myoclonal episodes.
      Ethan

  75. Jarol says:

    Hi, Mr. Green.

    I feel so thankful having found this site because you take time to answer the comments. It is a great thing for us, to have answers or even explanations. So thank you.

    I am Jarol, 36 years old and lives in the Philippines. This happened to me two days in a row already and I am very scared because I really felt like dying in my sleep. First it was the palpitations, very severe palpitations. My pulse rate is 132 per minute. The first time it happened to me was two days ago. I have been asleep for one to two minutes already then I suddenly woke up with very fast heartbeat. I had to get up, drink water then try to sleep again. Same thing happened every time I try to sleep for the next five hours. It was so scary, with the palpitations and the difficulty to sleep even for a minute. It was almost 5 AM when I realized I have kava capsules and rhodiola sent by a very good friend (he is also the one who makes them). I took 3 caps of kava and 5 caps of rhodiola and within minutes I fell asleep. It was a bliss being able to sleep and I owe it to the herbal capsules I took. I really thought that kind of jerk will only happen once to me but I had it again last night. I was so tired from a trip and when I closed my eyes, I felt as if my soul is leaving my body or something like that. I am not sure if that was some kind of OBE but the feeling is I am actually leaving my body. I tried to fight the urge to leave my body and every time I try to do it, I wake up. I sat down, took some deep breaths and contemplated of taking the herbs (only few left and I was thinking to “reserve” them for an emergency need). I finally decided to try sleeping again in a different position, and thank God, I fell asleep. It will be night time again in a few hours and I am a bit worried it might happen to me again. Hopefully, not anymore!

    • Hi Jarol

      Thank you for sharing your experience, and I’m glad you have found this site useful. That sounds like quite an unpleasant experience you had. I know it has been a while since you wrote the comment and I’m replying now, so I wonder, have you had more experiences or was it a one off? And did you have a look at my article on sleep paralysis? Perhaps the OOB experience you are describing might have some explanation there.
      Let me know if you’re following this comment.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Mark says:

      Happened to me for over a year. Coffee and alcohol make it worse but something else triggers it.

  76. aeron says:

    If i know I’m going to suffer from this, due to a late night and/ or too much to drink the night before, then i take a paracetamol , not sure if it’s just me but it definitely stops this from happening. also i do the same thing if i have a spate of bad dreams, just take some paracetamol at night and maybe again when it wears off around 4 to 6am ..

    • Hi Aeron

      Thanks for sharing something which you find helps. I’m not sure taking paracetamol is a good idea in the long run to deal with something natural. But if it’s occasional and let’s you sleep well, then that’s a personal choice of course.
      Regards
      Ethan

  77. Anonymous says:

    Well I’m a 13 year old kid who gets about 2-5 jerks EVERY NIGHT. Should I see a doctor? Or is it fine?

    • Hiyah

      It’s probably nothing to worry about at all, but if you want reassurance, you can talk to your family about it. There is a good chance they will also have experienced it and you can talk it through together.
      Don’t panic though, you’ll be fine:-)
      Regards
      Ethan

  78. Sohail A.qadir says:

    Hi,
    My name is sohail and its happening with my father namely abdul qadir he is jerking when he go to sleep especially in night he cant sleep whole night for this jerking and we can see his jerking it is too badly jerks. And with jerks pain is also backbone to legs.his age is 48
    We concern too many doctors nuerologist but they cant handle this problem the doctor said that he is normal we cant understand and my father is taking medicine namely tramal sr and rivotril 0.5 mg with this he taking some rest but doctor said that dont take these medicine
    So kindly refer some good doctor or idea or any other exercise or medicine
    Thanking you please reply me
    From pakistan

    • Hi Sohail

      Sorry to hear about your father’s troubles. I am not able to recommend doctors in your country. Sorry about that, but I know nothing about your medical system, and I am not a doctor myself. I usually recommend going to your own doctor – which you have done and more by the sounds of it. And then, relaxation exercises such as you can find on the section I talk about above. Otherwise, you can read the comments people have left before, as some have found things which they think can help. And maybe something will also help your father.
      Sorry I am not able to help more.
      Regards
      Ethan

      • Carol says:

        I am a pharmacist and see that your father is taking medicines whose generic names are tramadol and clonazepam. Tramadol is a mild narcotic pain reliever and clonazepam is a tranquilizer that is also used for myoclonic seizures — like the jerking when your father falls asleep. Both of these medicines are very addictive. I have had the “jerking” for over 20 years myself and many nights I cannot sleep because every time I fall asleep, I “jerk” myself awake. The doctor put me on clonazepam 1mg many years ago and it helped for a while, but then didn’t seem to do much and I have had much trouble trying to wean myself off of this addictive medication — currently down to 0.25mg. Stretching, drinking plenty of water — even through the night — and making sure to take my calcium and magnesium before bedtime usually helps but I still have bad nights. Be careful with the Tramal (tramadol) and Rivotril (clonazepam) because becoming addicted will only make things worse.

        • Hi Carol,

          Thank you for responding to a previous reader. I’m sure they will appreciate your sensible advice.
          It’s also good advice for any other reader who considers, or is prescribed, these medications. It’s also interesting that you mention calcium and magnesium. This is something which has come up a few times from previous readers. As a pharmacist do you have any particular views on how well they could help with hypnic jerks? It would be great to hear from you again.
          Thanks,
          Ethan

  79. Leon says:

    I have these jerks pretty regularly. sometimes my limbs would twitch or violently flail. Sometimes my whole body will seemingly become airborne and crash back on the bed. I also hear loud banging noise or a voice that would awake me abruptly. I have had sleep paralysis for 30 years and the scary visual auditory hallucinations which would include a scary shadow man just standing their watching me as I lay paralyzed; or little demons frolicking around; or a grotesque old woman right in my face to the point that I can actually smell and feel her out bad breath. There is no doubt in my mind that these two conditions are related.

    • Hi Leon

      Thanks for the comment. Wow, 30 years of sleep paralysis. Have you gotten used to it, or does it still frighten you a lot every time it happens?
      Regards

      Ethan

  80. CJ says:

    Hi all,
    I found the forum a while back and posted. A couple of questions for those out there having chronic hypnic jerks.

    Has anyone found anything that helps remedy these?
    Do any of you have these enough that they keep you up for hours on end? I have anywhere from 12-40 of these in a night. Does this sound familiar to anyone out there? They seem to come and go in waves.

    Anyone know of a good resource to research this more?

    Is there any medical institue that has specific information on chronic hypnic jerks?

    CJ

    • Hi CJ

      I will leave your comment open to other readers since you have addressed them.

      If you can be specific about where you are it might help if anyone has any info. for you.

      Regards
      Ethan

    • hayley says:

      Hi CJ:

      I have that many, and the only thing I’ve found that helps is to get up and do something. Turning on a light, getting a snack, reading, checking my email or watching TV for an hour will often allow me to finally fall asleep, but not always.

      I used to only get hypnic jerks when I was falling asleep, but now I get them upon awaking if I’m not completely awake. I don’t find those quite as upsetting as I’ve already gotten some sleep, but I still hate them.

      One thing I’ve noticed is that mine are often far worse during the full moon. I’m one of those people who are afflicted with full moon insomnia where I can’t sleep to save myself on full moon, the night before or after. I’ve done as much research on it as I can, and it seems that there must be some electromagnetic something going on either in the atmosphere or my body that causs the insomnia, and probably makes the hypnic jerks worse. All I know is around full moon I’ll flailing around like I’m having a grand mal seizure!

      I do find that magnesium and calcium help it, but it’s not consistent enough to say that it’s a home remedy. What I would recommend is soak in a hot tub with epsom salts for 12 to 20 minutes if you’re having a terrible night and see if that helps. Keep in mind that magnesium [epsom salts are magnesium sulfate] is a laxative so you might want to take an extra calcium supplement lest you get diarrhea.

    • swandive says:

      I do have a chronic case of this thing. Some nights are worse like you describe and some a bit better with only a few jerks. For me it feels like I’m loosing my breath at the moment I am going from awake to sleep. It can really ruin ones life

  81. Abbey says:

    Hi Ethan, I really like your site. I am 52 years old. For many years, I have occasional body jerks right when falling asleep, nothing bothersome. During the past few months, I have jerks with uttering noises (a hiccup, shout, deep breath, speaking, even laughing). The noises and jerking are now 4-6 times EVERY NIGHT before finally sleeping. I was calling it Sleep Tourette’s. Highly annoying. Sometimes, it feels like my whole body is convulsing at this moment, as well. Also, the past 2 years, I have been occasionally stuttering when anxious, like words were getting physically stuck in my throat, while awake, standing up, talking to someone. I didn’t connect those 2 things until Googling the symptoms. 2 months ago, I retired from a non-stop-stress job. Still experiencing the jerks/noises 4-6 times EVERY night, even naps. I’m tired. :(

    • Hi Abbey

      Thank you for the compliment. It’s always great to hear that people like the site:-)
      I imagine you were a bit disappointed that retiring from the job didn’t deal with them. But 2 months is still a relatively short period of time in my opinion. Over a year ago I left an extremely stressful job, and had been experiencing some physical symptoms of stress. It several months before they calmed down completely. And to be honest it was only when I went away for a few weeks and actively tried to relax more that it really started to reduce.
      So maybe taking some real relaxing time out could help you too. It’s worth a shot!
      All the best
      Ethan

  82. Scott grant says:

    Thank goodness I have now learned about sleep paralysis.
    For almost 4 years now I have been absolutely positive that I was the victim of actual demons attacking me. It was “that real”
    I was at a friends holiday home in Spain with my partner and my dad and his wife. My mother had died 2 months previous which had prompted me on this evening to not waste life and ask my partner to marry me, she said yes, we had a lovely celebration champagne a lovely meal etc etc.
    when we went to bed all was good.
    Until I awoke shortly after, I was being held down to the bed by demons on both sides of me, they were screaming very loudly in my hear, it was a growly but human voice, they were screaming at me to shut up, swearing and shouting loudly. they also kept shouting at me to keep my head straight and not look at them, which I did as I thought they were going to kill me, I was absolutely terrified. Although I never looked at them I could see their scaly and boney hands holding me down and I could see their black eyeballs and pointed faces at the corner of my eyes. They were everything I believe a demon to be, I was overcome by this enormous feeling of evil presence, it was religious. it was as though the devil was standing in the room although I am not religious at all.
    my mum who had died previously was standing at the bottom of the bed crying her eyes out apologizing to me over and over again, she was saying that it was her fault, and that her coming to see me had brought the demons through. I was trying to tell her I was ok and it wasn’t her fault and not to worry but the demons beside me just wouldn’t let me speak. Every time I tried they shouted louder right in my ear for me to shut up. my partner witnessed it and she said the terror in my face was like nothing she has ever seen. after about 2 mins my mum just vanished and the demons let go and wooshed out the door to the balcony as a shadowy figure rather than fully figured. instantly I could move again.
    As I said previously this was real, every detail was real, it wasn’t vague but I just could not decifer if I was asleep or awake when it all occurred, it was both, I was asleep I know I was, but I was awake, I know that for certain too. What I have learned today about SP makes it all sensible now. I now understand what happened and now best of all I know my mum won’t be feeling bad wherever she is that she brought the demons and terrified me. thanks for alerting me to all of this

    • Hi Scott

      Thank you for your comment and sharing your story with us. What a thing to experience on what should have been an amazing night! I wonder perhaps if the combination of grief (sorry for your loss), happiness at the proposal, and a little bit of alcohol, may have been the trigger sending your mind a little haywire. But there’s of course no knowing.
      Hopefully you won’t experience this again, and I’m really pleased to hear that you can find some peace about your mum having read the article.
      Regards
      Ethan

  83. Chappy says:

    I am 46, and have had hypnic jerks off and on for the past year. They used to happen in my legs, but have mainly occurred in my abdomen area just under my rib cage lately. I also have restless leg syndrome (legs move randomly during sleep and occasionally kick, sometimes get calf and toe cramps while sleeping) that started about five years ago. I also have BFS (benign fascilation syndrome) which is a constant twitching, which has been around for about 10 years but got much worse about 2 years. In my case, my BFS resides mainly in my calfs (they very lightly twitch 24/7 and is visible). Sometimes it moves to other parts of my legs, arms and my eyes – but thankfully not very often. Have been to a neurologist who did the tests and basically said she couldn’t find anything serious. We tried a couple medications but they didn’t do anything, so I stopped them. My hypnic jerks only happen when I’m trying to fall asleep, and sometimes its just once and sometimes it happens 10 times or more before I finally fall asleep for good. For me, they tend to be much worse if I am drinking lots of caffeine and not sleeping enough. Stress probably is a bit of a factor, but for me, not getting enough sleep causes all my symptoms to get worse. I hope everyone that suffers with this can find the thing or things that allow them to function and get through the tough periods – for me, its lots of rest and to remind myself that while annoying, its not serious. As soon as I do that, the symptoms tend to get better or go away for a little while – the mind is a powerful tool for both the good and the bad…

    • Hi Chappy

      Thank you for leaving your comment and sharing your story. I think you are absolutely right in your last statement about the mind. I have read countless comments from readers on various articles here which appear to truly demonstrate the power of the mind to both overcome, and make things worse.

      I also think you’re right about things like hypnic jerks getting worse (for some people) if you are tired. The difficult thing being that getting to that state of not being tired when you have experiences which can make you tired can be tricky!

      Have you tried any relaxation, meditation or other techniques to help deal with stress etc?

      Regards,
      Ethan

  84. Colette says:

    Hello everyone …just wanted to let you know that for those with the restless leg syndrome….that when I get it I automatically rub my legs with “RUB-A535 ANTIPHLOGISTINE ULTRA HEAT ” as it works like a charm….no medication needed…GOOD LUCK…CAUSE IT WORKS..!!

  85. Tom Campbell says:

    Hi i have been experiencing hypnic jerks for about 5 years, i try to sleep in a nice and peaceful dream state and alter breathing to reduce heart rate, i have bad circulation and usually try to get to sleep on my side but when i go to sleep on my back i get a feeling of paralysis and cant move, i get a head buzz and then a jerk to come out of the sensation, i get the feeling i just dont know what would happen if one day the jerk wouldn’t come its like a trance and a abnormal weird feeling that im not in control of my body and im holding on to my mind by a thread in a split second a jerk and im like what the heck was that all about. I have self medicated with cannabis and heroin to help me relax and sleep on a night so that my mind is not in a state of worry as i have never had much luck in life currently homeless and worrying about not seeing my kids, family, friends, and nowhere to live, stress and worry are definitely a part of hypnic jerks if you can alleviate the worry and stress by whatever means then you can sleep easy, money for me would partly be the answer but i cant work due to a bad car crash so im stuck in a hole and my jerks are getting worse the doctors have prescribed me metazipine 15mg to help sleep on a night but i still get jerks so i dont know what would help, im also taking gabapenting 300mg every 4 hours and subitex 6mg a day for heroin detox. You cant solve all you problems and plan to change the world at night but if you have a plan for the day it does help also coping with time, time for me goes slow but my brain goes quick, i have adhd and like using cannabis and heroin as it brings my mind down to a level where i can concentrate, if not i get panicky and anxious, i have tried citalipram, ducloxetine, trazadone, sertraline, mertrazipine. I did like the ducloxetine in made me feel like i had take amphetamines but i was relaxed and could cope with the day with a warm tingly welcoming feeling but trying to sleep on a night with the jerks was worse so i stopped taking ducloxetine, all the others apart from metrazipine made me feel even more anxious and stressed. I write alot of things down a trait of adhd but i want to do so much with my life but cant and that’s what i cant change until im free from all drugs so im going to detox from my subitex and try ibogaine treatment.

    • Hi Tom,

      Thank you for sharing your story here. And I’m sorry to hear that you’re not able to do what you want to in life at the moment. I actually worked in the homelessness sector for some time in London, so I have some understanding of the issues which I imagine you have been facing.
      As you probably well know, the cocktail of drugs and medication that you’ve been taking can have a massive range of effects on the body and mind, and so it’s very difficult to isolate whether something like hypnic jerks is being made worse by any one thing or another, or better even.
      I’d like to wish you the best of luck, and strength of mind, on your detox. It’s not an easy thing to do, and brave of anyone to undertake the task of coming off either Heroin or one of the drugs which is supposed to help you come off that, such as Subutex. I think few people would understand how it can be difficult to do both, and are surprised when they find out that it can be hard to wean yourself off the very medication which was designed to help in the first place.
      I’m sure if you keep your dreams in the forefront of your mind, you’ll manage to accomplish them. I’ve seen many people move from being homeless and having nothing to creating whole new lives for themselves.
      I hope you manage to do the same:-)
      Warm regards,
      Ethan

  86. nur says:

    Hi Ethan, nice sharing..

    I hope I could read more about the other comments to gain more knowledge, but I’m not very good with English, it tires me to read too much.

    Here my sharing,

    I’m a dentistry student, and got so many friends studied medical course, I’ve asking them, and some told me, its happen more common than I thought and they’ve learn it in their studies. But I couldn’t ask more because we student don’t really care about small things in the book (I’m ashamed of myself).

    Also, it’s not bother me before, because it rarely happen to me, and I’ve a diseased little brother that common with it. But we just thought it is due to his epilepsy. Regarding of the earlier comment from Clucker, I found myself to enjoy the twitching thing while sleeping with my lil bro, it help me to sleep easily. (weird enough)

    But recently I’m started to get this Hypnic jerk frequently at my neck to head. It felt like I’m twisting my head slightly and unconciously.

    I didn’t know what actually causing it. I didn’t take caffein, or do some extensive muscle work, or even get distress. I sleep in a good position and having a good bed place. But it still occur both during fall asleep and wake in the morning.

    In my memory, this problem comes after I finished my final exam a couple weeks ago. I’m too relaxed, too boring, and my only activity is watching some anime in seat or lie position ( maybe cause muscle numbness???). Also, I’ve some sleep disorder problem because of the weather changes. I can only sleep before 9 pm, or never at night, after that I’ll sleep after 8 am. I think I got insomnia, because when I told to myself, relax, don’t thinking about anything, and go to sleep, it make my brain start to work again and make me hard to sleep. In this cases, my body already tired, but my eyes won’t sleep. So here, the half conscious state occur, and the Hypnic jerk comes once or several time until got sleep.

    Btw, I only assume, if I’m correct, this problem will disappears if I’m not in the state of half conscious and my muscle got relaxed. So I’ll try some of relaxation technique that you’ve shared if it help me.

    • Hi Nur

      Thank you for sharing your story of hypnic jerks. It’s interesting that you have spent time analyzing various different things which could be causing it. Perhaps you are one of those people who needs to tire out both your body and mind to be able to sleep well. If you have an inactive lifestyle, then maybe doing something to change that, as well as the relaxation techniques could help.
      I’d be very interested to hear if you have any joy with the relaxation techniques you decide to try. Feel free to come back and let me, and other readers, know what works or not.
      Regards
      Ethan

  87. rafiq says:

    Hi…reading the whole website..
    hypnic jerks.. It shouldn’t have occurred to me..because sleep is the only medicine Im using for the past 10 yrs along with hypnosis to control my bad migraine and fibromyalgia.
    now these jerks have ruined my medicine..the sleep..
    I get severe daily headaches and body pain at 3 pm I’ll sleep to get rid of it.

    now I can’t sleep for the past one yr.. Immediately diagnosed as hypnic jerks ..i was on .75 clonaxepam per day..things. Were fine.. After 4 months gradually reduced dosage. Once again unable to sleep especially 3 pm.. Doc made .25 tds.. But I skipped the night dose because I found the most difficult thing is to sleep in afternoon without which I cannot live.
    things were better 70 percent…now I halved the morning dose along with .25 afternoon.. and nothing at night.. Things were going good.. Once I had sex with my wife for more than 30 min. 30 min is unusual..rare…. I can feel that cardiac workout.. Since then may be 3 weeks now.. Only 50 percent nights are good and same with noon sleep also.. The horrible thing is I always tell my neuro that I m ok at night..still experimenting every day and night..

    well hypnotherapy does the job once Im awaken from these jerks to get back to sleep.
    but sometimes it causes forced sleep which induces repeated jerks esp at nights.
    I wanna get rid of clonazepam now on .125
    and sleep deep for just one hour afternoon.
    nights I not tensed much because I do hypnosis in the morning and sleep for 30 min which allows me work in the morning .

    • Hi Rafiq

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience. Have you thought about talking to your neurologist about exactly what is happening, but also saying what you do or do not want to take in terms of medication? In my opinion, it’s better to be open about it, so you can at least get advice based on the full picture. Then it’s your choice whether to accept that advice or not.
      It’s good that you’ve found some help from hypnotherapy. Hopefully you can continue to find the right balance between less medication and more help from other things like hypnotherapy.
      All the best
      Ethan

  88. Tawake Kolinisau says:

    this is quite embarassing when in public transport. at times while falling asleep in the bus, these jerks have happened, almost resulting in hurting the passenger sitting next to me … i have always wondered what these jerks meant until i saw an article in our local newspaper.

    Suva, Fiji Islands

    • Hi Tawake,

      I know exactly what you mean, having had exactly the same experience on an underground train! It was very embarrassing indeed.
      But I put it down to my head slumping forwards and putting my neck in an uncomfortable position, and so then ‘snapping’ out of it.
      Regards
      Ethan

  89. scott hammond says:

    I’m 24yrs old iv had these hypnic jerks since I was a kid. Had one last night. What has me curious to why it happened seems to make little sense, me and my brother who is a year older were talking about lucid dreaming about a hour before sleeping and having that been in my mind, I think my body was trying to going into sleep paralysis and my hypnic jerk was a signal my brain sent to my body to make sure I was asleep. After having that jerk my mind and body are on the defensive and I always feel like someone is about to attack me or something is wrong and I always have to turn lights on to ease my mind and to make sure everythings ok. I am going to test my theory tonight and have the same conversation with my brother to see if I can trigger the jerk!

    • Hi Scott,

      Thanks for sharing your theory, and it’s always interesting to hear about people’s own thoughts on the topic and the experiments they do. I know it was a while since you posted this (I have a massive backlog of comments to get through!) but it would be interesting to hear from you again with any follow-up to your theory testing.
      Regards,
      Ethan

  90. Justine says:

    I would recommend relaxation meditations shortly before going to sleep. If one is really bothered by these muscle jolts, a nice hot shower before doing the meditation should really help. The only time I am bothered by these jolts is when I am under a lot of stress due to excessive responsibility demands. I’m sure stress due to anxiety/fears would increase the occurrence and intensity. I’ve found that limiting sugar intake helps and also not eating dinner too close to bedtime also helps because we may be tired and ready to sleep but the big meal has given the body work to do. Eat bananas also, they’re loaded with potassium.

    • Hi Justine

      Thanks for the comment and the practical advice. I am sure some readers will find your suggestions useful. I removed the commercial link to purchase meditation mps though. We cover this on another part of the site.
      Regards
      Ethan

  91. Robbie says:

    I get these once every month or so but recently, I have been waking up feeling like I’m about to lose my breath. It happens for an hour or two but then I finally fall asleep. I have become scared of going to sleep because these events scare me. I don’t if these are the same thing but hopefully you can let me know, thanks!

    • Hi Robbie

      It’s impossible to say from your description, and not my place to diagnose here. My advice for anyone experiencing any kind of breathing issues when sleeping is always to talk to your family doctor just to be sure there isn’t a sleep-related breathing disorder behind it. It could be that you are simply experiencing hypnic jerks, but it’s always a good idea to get yourself checked out if breathing is affected.
      Regards
      Ethan

  92. Pepper says:

    I am so glad to have found this website.
    I am now 81 and quite young in every way for my age. (I say this not to brag but to give a health picture of parents who recently died at 94 (father) and almost 102 (mother) — with nary a wrinkle on her face — and of natural causes in the latter.
    It started 10 years ago when I traveled to Italy (I am a very poor traveler — my body fights it tooth and nail). I was very tired when we finally arrived at the hotel and was told to take a nap before dinner. I was jolted from sleep by what I thought was probably a heart attack and panicked. Eventually, it subsided but I felt ill enough that I really didn’t even want dinner and drinks at a fine restaurant nearby.
    Fast forward to several years ago when I took a nap in the afternoon (something very rare for me — I hardly ever do it) and jumped up with that horrible jolt thinking I was dying.
    Then nothing happened for several more years till maybe 6 months ago when it happened again in my home at night (usually I fall asleep quite easily with no problems). My heart was racing and blood pressure was so dangerously high that we went to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. They discovered that I was dehydrated and very short of potassium and everything was okay again. (I had drunk 2 martinis that evening earlier).
    I am now on Toprol at night and mild diuretic (Dyazide) and everything so far has been superb. Blood pressure perfect and feeling fine.
    That is until it happened again last week and I was convinced I was dying. Completely disoriented, shaking, teeth chattering — the whole 9 yards. Took blood pressure which was off the wall but slowly as I meditated and calmed myself down I was okay but tired and the numbers went down.
    It happened 2 nights ago again and now I thought perhaps it might have been a stroke. My vision was hazy, I was shaking out of control with my teeth chattering, and of course I thought I was dying on the spot, and blood pressure as usual shot up quite high. I did all the usual tests for stroke, held my arms up just fine, no slurring of words, etc.
    These death-like jolts that have invaded my body are extremely frightening and ruin the next day from exhaustion.
    My doctor saw me yesterday, did all blood work and EKG which came back perfectly, and assured me that when I’d had a car accident almost 2 years ago I had a Cat scan which came back fine.
    She is now sending me to a neurologist who handles things like hypnic jerk.
    The thing is, now that I have been given a complete clean bill of health (her words, “you’re as healthy as a horse”) I think my anxiety level will drop.
    Last night, with help from Ativan which she insisted I take temporarily (I hate taking any drugs) I got 8 hours of perfect, uninterrupted sleep. Hooray!
    My suspicions are that it is exacerbated by 3 possible things besides occasional stress:
    1) overtiredness
    2) dehydration (I couldn’t drink enough water the other night. I downed 3 pint sized bottles practically in a row)
    3) drinking martini’s or wine in a restaurant and not covering with equal amounts of water. (I am only a social drinker — usually weekend only)
    At least one thing I know, when these bouts happen to me (and I guess I am going to have to live with them as so little is known about them) I won’t have to panic as before when they come up and will learn how to minimize the fears of heart attack, stroke or brain tumor, with breathing exercise and bringing down my blood pressure.
    If this story has helped anyone else, I am grateful.
    Thanks for listening.

    • Hi Pepper,

      Thank you for sharing your story with us, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been through so many scary experiences. It must be unpleasant to go through so many where you think you are dying. I’m very glad that you’ve managed to find a way to deal with hypnic jerks and stay calm about it.
      I think your suspicions are quite possibly right. Other people have said that over-tiredness and alcohol makes it worse. And I can believe that staying hydrated can also help.
      It would be good to hear what the neurologist has to say about the hypnic jerks, if you have the time to come back and tell us.
      Thanks again for the ideas, which I am sure other readers will appreciate.
      Take care
      Ethan

  93. Eduardo says:

    Hi. First of all, I wanna congratulate you for the great website. It helps me alot, and I believe it helped lots of people too. I´m so glad I found this, because I thought I was alone, and I couldn´t really explain what was happening to anyone. And if I did no one would understand. Anyway… I am 17 years old. I´ve had strong episodes of anxiety, followed by depression 2 years ago. I´ve never used any kind of medication, apart from melatonin and natural stuff. I learned how to live with that, and my anxiety levels got much better. I had these jerks for the first time the day after a big party where I drank too much and smoked almost an entire pack of cigarettes. After a week having constant and huge jerks every time I tried to sleep (I got like 14 hours of sleep the whole week) they went away (I though it was some kind of withdrawal, and maybe it was). So they wen´t away for some months, and 5 months ago they started again (I don´t smoke since the first time I had the jerks). They happen usually when I am drifting off to sleep, and sometimes when I´m already asleep. When they are really strong they happen everytime I try to sleep, and follows a zap of anxiety that runs from my head to my feet and I will go to the bathroom all night. But often, they happen only 2 or 3 times when I´m going to sleep and then go away, and I don´t care about them. I am pretty sure that beer can trigger them. Sometimes I will have a drink in the afternoon and have them all night long, it sucks. But sometimes they don´t even happen. Sometimes I wave them a lot, other times they just go away and I sleep well. I use melatonin and find it very helpfull. I also think that drinking milk and eating properly help easy them. Sometimes I get them while awake but only when I am really tired. It is no big deal, and I am sure that worrying too much is worst them the jerks, and it´s the reason that most people keep being awake for so long. I know sometimes is hard to control the worry and the anxiety, but what I learned from my experiences (I had mind blowing panic attacks 2 years ago) is that you gotta live on and leave the worry behind, because some things in life just have no explanation and we have to deal with it, that´s what life is about! Trying to be happy!

    • Hi Eduardo

      Thanks for your inspiring comment! And I’m glad you found the website helpful – I agree that knowing you are not alone can be a big relief and help in itself.

      It’s great that you have managed to find a positive way to deal with hypnic jerks and accept them for the natural thing that they are. It’s also great that you have managed to discover what makes them better or worse for you. Now all you need to do is continue with the healthy lifestyle, and as you say, not worry about them and keep smiling:-)

      Warm wishes
      Ethan

  94. Cayenne says:

    I noticed that the consumption of Cayenne Pepper in a tea – see online for lots of recipes – helped eliminate hypnic jerks for me. That’s just what happened for me, no guarantee the same will happen for you.

    • Hi Cayenne

      Thanks for the idea to add to the growing list of practical tips people can try. I haven’t heard this one before, so maybe someone else will also have an idea about how it might help.
      Regards
      Ethan

  95. Cayenne says:

    Drinking Cayenne pepper tea, which anyone can make from store bought cayenne pepper spice (or better quality from any health food or spice store, Asian stores, Indians from India stores), and it has genuinely relieved my hypnic jerks, which is pretty damned amazing if you ask me.

    I always thought Hypnic jerks was my heart skipping a beat or beating hard, and experiencing it from time to time has always been disconcerting. I’m glad I finally looked it up, but it happened around the time I started taking cayenne pepper tea on a daily basis as a health boosting tonic.

    One night I had an episode of hypnic jerking which I hadn’t had in a while. I wondered if a nice warm cup of cayenne pepper tea might help, and it did!

    I went to bed half an hour later and experienced two of the most surprisingly mildest hypnic jerks I’ve ever had, after which I fell asleep and woke up in the morning.

    I noticed the difference as the hypnic jerks I feel are normally quite a jolt and literally jolt me awake from having just started falling asleep.

    Given the fact that cayenne pepper helps normalise blood pressure in the body, whether high or low, and has excellent heart healthy qualities, I reckoned that it might help me get to sleep, and it did!

    It might help some of your readers, it might not, but there’s no harm in them trying. Type “cayenne pepper info” or “cayenne pepper blood pressure” or similar search terms into any search engine and you’ll find lots of free information about it all.

    Meanwhile, cayenne pepper is extremely inexpensive. None of this $90 per bottle of miracle juice stuff. In Australia you can get Cayenne Pepper for $18 a kilogram, while bottles of the stuff in the supermarket spice rack costs just under $3, although pricing is better and the quality of the pepper is generally hotter and better in spice/health/Indian/Asian food stores.

    Start small – 1/8th of a teaspoon or less, but work your way up to 1/4 teaspoon, then 1/2, then later, 1 full teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder in very warm water. Add a dash of cinnamon, turmeric and other relevant spices if you want. There are recipes with garlic, with lemon, with tomato juice, with maple syrup, with apple cider vinegar and more.

    Once a day to start, but many take cayenne pepper tea three times a day, as you’ll discover if you get a chance to read up on any information about it.

    To the gentleman on all the drugs who is also homeless and a recovering heroin addict – please try getting some cayenne pepper tea into your body, add cayenne pepper to your food, find somewhere you can get hot water and start taking things like apple cider vinegar, extra virgin coconut oil, cayenne pepper and try to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can to help your body cleanse itself from all the drugs and to help keep you healthy, especially in the trying times you find yourself in.

    I sincerely hope that you are able to find peace and stability soon – hopefully there are some charitable services that you are able to get help from where you live, and with luck and a desire to turn your life around, you can definitely do it!

    • Hi Cayenne,

      Thanks for the information about Cayenne pepper. It’s funny that two people have talked about it in such a short space of time, when nobody had ever mentioned it here before!
      I might actually have to go and try it myself now, even though it sounds a bit weird. But who knows?

      Regards
      Ethan

      • swandive says:

        Cayenne wrote: I went to bed half an hour later and experienced two of the most surprisingly mildest hypnic jerks I’ve ever had, after which I fell asleep and woke up in the morning.

        Actually now that I reflect on it, I noticed a slight difference in how strong my jerks were after consuming the tea for the first time. I recall thinking they were milder as Cayenne wrote. I did however get them, so I just figures it didn’t work, but I will give it another go this week to see if they start to gradually fade away.

  96. Leon says:

    Ethan, in regards to your question of whether my 30 years of sleep paralysis still bothers me: No. Once I started researching what it was and knew that it could not kill me and that millions of others experience it, I begun tolerating it more and more. To the point I would hope to have an episode to play around with. Ala, I recently start taking meds for anxiety which have caused me to have fewer episodes. :-(

    • Hi Leon,

      Thanks for coming back to answer my question. It’s great that you managed to find a way to tolerate it. I think you must be one of the first to be disappointed that you are experiencing it less!

      Regards
      Ethan

  97. Mark says:

    Does anyone else have the hypnic Jerk along with a sniffing or snorting? And no not sleep apnea. I sleep with a cpap mask just to make sure it is not that. When I do not have the full out jerks I have a lesser arousal which is a sniff or deep intake of breath that wakes me up just like the jerk. I have dealt with these for almost two years now and seen many experts in the country. Rush medical center ect..No one can really say what causes them. I can tell you Alcohol makes them worse or even creates them. Exacerbates them for sure. I never had sleep problems I know of my whole life. And in one day boom! it is an arousal of some sort. Coffee makes them worse as well. I used to drink coffee before bed. Now I cannot drink it or I will have them worse for 3 days just one cup of decaf. So whatever this is do not underestimate how sensitive it is to things you drink or eat. Also, all of this was triggered at stressful time for me, it is almost as if it changed me forever. Just another possibility.

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you haven’t had much luck with the experts you’ve seen. Did one of them advise you to wear the cpap mask just in case?
      I think you’re absolutely right about food, drink, stress and various other factors potentially having a significant effect on the severity of hypnic jerks, at least for many people. There is definitely a common theme of anxiety and stress in the comments on this article alone, which says something in itself.
      But hopefully you will find a way to get on top of it and deal with the change which you felt occurred.
      All the best
      Ethan

    • Emma says:

      Yes me…..!!!!! I too have the sniffing and snorting and guttural sounds as well as involuntary muscle spasms in my stomach rather like a hiccup without the ‘cup’….it seems almost every night there must be something…..a body jerk, or a huge intake of breath, either involuntary or voluntary, a noise from my throat, or a muscle spasm, sniffing in deeply, a twitch from my legs or arms …..! Mostly one of these or a combination of one or two or amazingly…..nothing at all! Just as I’m lulled into a false sense of security when I haven’t had anything for a few days…then back they come with a vengeance…!! Looks like I’ll have to get used to them as probably I’ll have them for life…..note to self…I must look into this Cayenne pepper theory as a potential cure…..

  98. hayley says:

    I’ve been reading and following this page for the last few weeks as hypnic jerks control my nights at least 5 nights a week for the last 7 years so I’m eager to learn whatever I can to help it.

    One commenter mentioned cayenne pepper and lemon tea so I was looking it up and came across a post on another site saying that Benadryl is calcium channel blocker that makes his hypnic jerks much, much worse.
    I’ve been taking it daily for 7.5 years so I’m going to go off it and see if it doesn’t help.

    Another theory I found interesting is the theory that the reason exercise makes the jerking worse is because of a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles. This would make sense for people who have myofascial pain where the muscles get knots in them that refer pain elsewhere, and have to be broken up or deactivated for the pain to subside. Almost everyone experiences myofascial related pain from time to time, but for others of us such as myself, it’s chronic. In such cases, the body produces twice as much lactic acid as normal with half the exertion, and it takes twice as long to clear the body. One home remedy I’ve used over the years is a bit of baking soda [use food grade] in water to help clear it.

    • Hi Hayley,

      Nice to hear from you again. If you’ve been following the comments, you will have no doubt had a sudden influx recently! I tend to deal with them all in one go, as across the whole website they tend up build up, and I like to deal with them at once sometimes as it focuses my mind on what people are saying. But no doubt that means flooding people’s email inbox!

      That’s very interesting about Benadryl. If you do decide to experiment, then it would be great to hear if it had any effect stopping taking it. On another note, that seems like a very long time to be taking it daily!

      The lactic-acid theory is also interesting – I wonder if any of the sporty people who have hypnic jerks would have anything to say about that, as I know there have been one or two very active readers commenting in the past.

      There have been so many suggestions recently, I’ve been thinking I should re-read all the comments and compile them in a new section in the original article. Just don’t have the time though so maybe I’ll ask for a volunteer to help me!

      Regards
      Ethan

  99. John Mark says:

    Hi Ethan!

    I have a story to tell. But first i wan’t you to believe me because this really happened. I just want to inquire if you have an idea about this. :D Last night, my girl friend and I are sleeping. Then suddenly when I was about to reach my deep sleep we both felt this hypnic jerk. We both woke up in and laughed cause its really funny waking up at the same time. I was about to tell my story to her why i felt this hypnic jerk but she started it. She told me that in her dreams, she was about to open a locker but she felt his hypnic jerk and interrupted her sleep. And WOW!!! her dream and my dream are really the same!!! and take note Ethan. Same dream, same story, same hypnic jerk, and the same time. It was really a weird time for us. I can’t stop thinking about this. That is why i searched for this and found your website. Thank you for reading Ethan.

    • Hi John

      Thanks for sharing the story, and it’s definitely an interesting one. To be honest, I have no idea why that might have happened. I know sometimes the brain can ‘create’ a dream in a split second, so sometimes we receive an external stimulus, such as an alarm and the brain starts dreaming of something involving an alarm. Then we wake up and think how odd it is that we feel like we were having a long dream involving an alarm, then woke up to hear one similar. So it’s possible one of you could have a hypnic jerk, which then triggered some reaction in the other a split second later. Though to you it might seem like it happened at the exact same time. But that wouldn’t account for dreaming about a locker! I’ll leave that one to you to enjoy theorizing about. Let me know if you come to any conclusion:-)
      Regards
      Ethan

  100. Neenee says:

    I find that I have severe jerks when I am anxious and stressed. Recently have been depressed and try to force myself to sleep much more than I need to. Sometimes 14 hours. The jerks are then more severe. I believe my body is telling me “enough” GET UP.
    What do you think about this theory??????

    • Hi Neenee

      I think you are probably right about them being worse when you are anxious and stressed. I also think you are possibly right in your theory. 14 hours is way more than we need to sleep, and forcing yourself to sleep is very difficult. It may then not be hypnic jerks exactly, possibly just excess energy in your body which needs to be used. Have you spoken to anyone about feeling depressed? It’s not an easy thing to deal with alone, so getting some suppport from family, friends or a medical professional or counselor could help.

      Regards
      Ethan

  101. hayley says:

    Hi Ethan:

    I can’t thank you enough for your blog, and all the info everyone has shared.

    As I posted earlier this week, I found a post on another health blog saying that hypnic jerks are a side-effect of Benadryl that I’d been taking for a number of years to control my atypical migraines. After reading that on Sunday morning, I went off it, and as of today [Friday], I’ve had about 4 hypnic jerks in 5 nights!! To say this is miraculous is an understatement after suffering with them for hours on end ever few nights.

    I’m convinced hypnic jerks are a side-effect of various medication. For those who haven’t found relief, google your medication with the term ‘myoclonus’ and see if it’s listed as a side-effect. I was surprised to find this is side-effect of something as innocuous as aprinin!

    • Hi Hayley,

      Ahh, I just replied to your previous comment about this, and here you are with an answer that I hadn’t noticed you already wrote.

      That’s great that you found a way to reduce them so dramatically! And it’s also an interesting concept about the myoclonus side-effect. I will definitely add that one when I get around to writing my ‘reader’s tips and tricks’ section:-)

      Regards
      Ethan

  102. swandive says:

    Thanks for the advice on cayenne. Will try it. Willing to try anything. I am suffering from these jerks as well. I have them every night now and have had it like this for 2 years. The only time I don’t get them is if I have been drinking a bit. I tend to cough when getting these attacks. It just feels like the entire system is “shutting down”.

    Some key facts from me:
    – I only get them the FIRST time I fall asleep each night. If I wake up during the middle of to night to go to the bathroom I don’t get them again.
    – being exhausted seem to make them worse
    – eating something after getting the jerks (a cracker or so) seem to relieve it and makes it easier to finally fall asleep

    • Hi swandive,

      Glad you found the pepper idea interesting. Let me know if it helps!
      I think your key facts are quite sensible observations, though the eating a cracker one is new. I’m not sure the idea of having a snack has been mentioned before, though there are so many comments, I can’t remember.
      Have you spoken to a doctor about the coughing? It might be a good idea to get that checked out just to eliminate the possibility of any breathing problems.
      Regards
      Ethan

  103. psychill81 says:

    I first started having trouble sleeping with hypnic jerks in Oct 2011, and they went away on their own by the end of that year. Now they are back with a vengeance, starting in April 2014, and have only gotten worse since then. The odd thing is that during that 2.5 years in between I had NO trouble with this. They say they are caused by stress, but I certainly had some stressful situations during that time and I can’t pinpoint any obvious reason why they would have started again in April. Has anyone else experienced these things coming and going in cycles for no apparent reason?

    I’m trying magnesium citrate which definitely helps my mood and level of stress but unfortunately it doesn’t have much direct effect on the jerks. Alcohol seems to help calm the jerks down but that is not a long term solution and I use that as a last resort. I’m taking diphenhydramine which helps me sleep longer in the morning. I do deep breathing and guided imagery before bed which makes me feel relaxed but it doesn’t stop the jerks. I have no trouble dozing off, it’s just the jerks that wake me up. I tried the cayenne pepper thing last night which had no effect on the jerks. I will make an appointment with a sleep specialist on Monday, I can’t go on with 5 hours of sleep a night any longer. Hope others out there have found a solution that works for them.

    • Hi psychill81

      Thank you for sharing your experience, and sorry to hear they’ve been bothering you. It’s also a shame that you’ve tried quite hard by the sounds of it to deal with them, and had no success.
      I think from what I remember, several previous readers have noted that they sometimes come and go for no apparent reason. But perhaps someone will read your comment and respond to it – I know there are a fair few people following this comment thread and they do sometimes pop in to comment when someone says something which strikes a cord with them.
      It’s interesting that you tried the Cayenne pepper thing. I still haven’t myself, so can’t comment on it. I’ll be looking out for anyone else who has also tried it to see if it was just a couple of lucky people that found it helped, or it just hasn’t helped you.
      If you do find the sleep specialist comes up with some ideas that help you, it would be great if you could find the time in the future to come back and share them.
      I hope you do find something that helps you.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • hayley says:

      Did the jerks get worse since you started taking the
      diphenhydramine which I believe is the key ingredient in Benadryl and other OTC anti-histamines and sleep aids? If so, lay off it and see what happens. I’m convinced my 8 years of suffering from severe hypnic jerks were mostly a side-effect from taking Benadryl on a daily basis.

      In researching hypnic jerks on another website, someone mentioned that they’re a side-effect of Benadryl so I went off it then and there, and while I still have a few now and then, it’s nothing compared to what it was. I think the ones I’m getting now have to do with muscle problems caused by chronic myofascial pain.

      • Mark says:

        THERE IS NO DOUBT DIPHENHYDRAMINE CAUSES THEM OR EXACERBATES THEM. I BELIEVE THE LATTER. MINE WERE GONE FOR THREE MONTHS AND I TOOK IT AND JERKED FOR A WEEK.

        • Thanks for that Mark – I am going to look further into this possible connection over the next couple of days.
          Regards
          Ethan

          • Ben says:

            Thanks for your comments, I stopped taking diphenhydramine and it took a couple of days but eventually the jerks were less frequent and not as bad. Another factor that really seems to exacerbate mine is too much exertion of muscles during the day, not just aerobic exercise but even just walking too much. When I do that I feel the jerks moreso in my legs and feet, which can’t be a coincidence.

          • No problem Ben. That’s definitely interesting about the diphenhydramine and also the exercise. I have now listed both of those as possible contributors to hypnic jerks in the new section in the article. I think walking too much can be considered exercise, especially if it’s long distance or fast. It doesn’t surprise me that you end up feeling them more in the feet and legs. What would be interesting would be to do the kind of exercise that you know can lead to them, but then spend time afterwards warming down, maybe having a good soak in the bath, and eating really well and see if that can helps counter-act the effect of the activity on your hypnic jerks.
            Regards
            Ethan

  104. Julie says:

    I have suffered from these for years now and have never looked into what causes them before. The reason for looking today is that they are starting to affect my partner too as the jumps are getting more violent :0(
    I am a shift worker and have an irregular sleep pattern which i believe doesn’t help at all. I am constantly tired and literally fall into bed at night exhausted (having young children doesn’t help lol!) I am sure tiredness is a big factor for me, i am going to try the magnesium and see if it helps but i cant help thinking i may have to think about a career change as being tired all the time is no fun.

    • Julie says:

      also, thankyou for all the excellent information and advice on here, it has been really helpful.

    • Hi Julie

      Thank you for the comment, and I’m sorry to hear that this has disrupted your life, and contributed to such a level of tiredness. Have you tried taking melatonin to help regulate your sleep? It’s known to be quite effective for shift workers. I’m not sure it will help the hypnic jerks directly, but if you can improve your overall quantity and quality of sleep, then the reduction in tiredness might help reduce the hypnic jerks.
      Regards
      Ethan

  105. NEW LIST OF TIPS TO HELP IMPROVE HYPNIC JERKS

    For any previous readers who are following this comments thread, I have just added a new section to the article which lists many (though not all) of the tips people have recommended in their comments. Feel free to look through and tell me if there is anything important I’ve missed. And if you have any further thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

    Thanks
    Ethan

  106. Denise says:

    Good morning Ethan,

    Many thanks for adding this section to what is already a very valuable site for anyone suffering with this affliction.
    Although I have not had much to say recently, I have been following the posts and conducting my own experiments :-)
    I will post my findings in the new section.

    Best regards,

    Denise

    • Hi Denise

      Nice to hear from you. It’s good to know the new section is appreciated:-)
      I’ve been meaning to do it for ages, but didn’t have the time to re-read all the comments until now; It took a very long time…

      I’ll look forward to seeing the results of your experiments!

      Regards
      Ethan

  107. Nicole says:

    My fiancé came home from guys night last night and for once in 6 years he was so wasted he couldn’t walk, hardly talk or handle himself. I don’t know of anything irregular that he did other than drink and smoke pot. And only the drinking is irregular there. He has been jerking all night usually 3 times at once every 2-3 mins. Don’t seem to be bothering him but he also woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air. We made sure he slept on his side and this is the closest thing I found to an answer. Ethan maybe you can give me a more medical description? Thank you.

    • Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for the comment, and sorry to hear about your boyfriend worrying you like that! It sounds like it was probably a case of serious alcohol intoxication, and I imagine it passed by the next day. Whether the spasms are hypnic jerks or just muscle spasms due to the alcohol is probably impossible to say, and I imagine not very relevant any more. Gasping for air is obviously a bit worrying, so you did well to put him on his side.
      If the spasms continue after the hangover clears, then get him checked out. And also if you notice he has breathing problems while sleeping normally.
      Regards
      Ethan

  108. Nikki says:

    Hi! I have been suffering from these jerks all night every night for one year now. I have never had trouble falling asleep until one day last year they just started suddenly. I’ve been so worried that I’m going to die from not sleeping. Can someone please tell me that they have lied through many sleepless nights and are still alive today? I’ve tried many things and the only thing that slightly helps is magnesium. I had an EEG, sleep study and a brain MRI. The doctor said my sleep study was mostly normal and that my EEG and MRI were normal. I’m at such a loss because I don’t know if it’s part of a bigger problem they are missing or just a sleep disorder. Any help would be so tremendous.

    • Hi Nikki

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a hard time sleeping. I can understand the worry about what will happen if you don’t sleep for a long period of time. But hopefully your body and mind will at some point shut down from exhaustion and you will get some sleep. I’ve had very long spells of insomnia in the past where I haven’t slept for days, and I’m still alive and well:-)
      In the article there are tons of practical suggestions you could try to reduce the hypnic jerks. I recommend having a close look and seeing which you can put into practice. Maybe one or two will jump out at you as things you could address, or things you can change in your lifestyle. If all the medical tests have proven normal, then it could well be that you are just experiencing hypnic jerks very frequently, but will either have to find a way to accept them as part of your normal life and try not to worry about them (I know that’s easier said than done), or see if some of the advice above can make a difference.
      I do hope you find something which helps!
      Regards
      Ethan

      • Swandive says:

        Hi,

        You write that you had a sleep study done but everything was normal? Surely they must have picked up some activity during the jerks. Didn’t the doctor comment on these at all and what is happening during this phase of going from awake to sleep? I am very interested in knowing what is going on with heart and brain during these short moments as it often feels like you stop breathing or that the heart stops of a second.

        • Hi Swandive,

          I’ll leave it to the person you’re addressing to answer. Have you thought about trying a sleep monitor which comes with a night-time heart monitor to wear in bed? That would give you some insight if those things interest you.

          Regards
          Ethan

  109. Marlo says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article. It eases my mind to know that I am not alone. However, now the hypnotic jerks I fear will be detrimental to my healing ankle which I broke last week (3 fractures in the left ankle). I am so scared to fall asleep now for fear of having a twitch that is powerful enough to set me back. One or two twitches have happened already that caused me to wince in pain. I am doing doing everything that I can to heal (it’s casted, elevated, iced regularly and taking pain meds) but the twitches are really scaring me. I am in pain all day from the fractures and now afraid to fall asleep because the hypnotic jerks may make the pain worse. My husband is trying to calm me down by saying if the ankle is casted the twitches can’t do much harm. But sometimes they feel like they can. What are your thoughts?

    • Marlo says:

      Ok so I’m clearly medicated and sleep deprived and have to ask that you excuse the fact that I was calling them “hypnotic twitches” and not “hypnic jerks”.

    • Hi Marlo

      Thanks for the comment, and sorry to hear about the ankle – I wish you a speedy recovery!
      To be honest, I’m not sure about the risk to an injury from hypnic jerks. It could just be that it feels worse because you’ll be naturally in a state of wanting to protect yourself, and anything which seems risky will see much worse. I know I’m always very sensitive to sudden movement when I’m recovering from broken limbs. You could always try taking something to relax you – see if your doctor will recommend something. But I imagine your husband is probably right in that the twitches shouldn’t do any harm if your ankle is in a cast.
      Regards
      Ethan

  110. Kylee says:

    I have also experienced these ‘hypnic jerks’. I am 11 years old, but I never really get a lot of sleep. Does anyone else think this is due to lack of sleep? They happen quite often. But not too too much. My sister also tells me I talk in my sleep. But not often. I don’t know if it’s still happens. Last time was a few months ago probably. I remember one day my sister told me that she wanted to trick me, so she set her alarm to early morning, when it was actually night, and she woke me up saying I was going to be late for school. I needed a shower, but I didn’t remember ever waking up and doing this. Apparently I ran into the bathroom to turn the shower on, but before I could she says she told me it was just a joke. So I went back in bed. But I must’ve been asleep while this happened, but my brain was still functioning like I was awake. It’s very strange, when I think about it like I’m not in control of my own body. This happened another time, my sister came in my room and told me I fell asleep on my dsi, so I sat up and threw my dsi across the bed. It’s very strange, but I don’t even know what happens, when, how, and how I can control it! Anyone else have the same problems, or know why this is happening?

    • Hi Kylee,

      Thank you for your comment and sharing your experiences. The first thing you talk about – the hypnic jerks – I think can definitely happen more if you are very tired. And if you don’t sleep much, then you will naturally be more tired. And so you will have them more often. I don’t think you need to worry about them, but if you don’t sleep much, then that’s something you can talk to your parents about. Maybe they can help you work out why you’re not sleeping so much.

      The second thing, waking up and doing things which you don’t feel in control of, is also quite normal. When we are woken up by someone, or something, at certain points in our sleep, we can still only be half awake. Then we can do things and not really remember them, or not be aware of them. Or do things we might not do if we were completely awake.

      This happened to me 2 nights ago funnily enough. I was having a dream that I had found the phone number of a friend after I had lost all my contacts because I fell in a lake. I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning, and without thinking turned on the light and got my mobile phone and started writing a text message to send to the friend! Obviously this is not a normal thing to do, and luckily I woke up properly in time to realise what I was doing, and didn’t send the message. I then felt quite weird!

      I think if things like this happen often, or you do things which could cause you harm, then it is something that maybe needs to be looked at. But if only happened twice, and was because your sister was playing a trick on you or waking you up, then it is quite normal, especially when you are young, to only half way up and perhaps do something weird.

      If you want, talk to your parents about it. They should be able to reassure you that nothing is wrong with you, and you are just being woken up from deep sleep or dreams.

      And maybe another readers will have had a similar experience and describe it here to reassure you that you’re definitely not the only one to have things like this!

      So, my main point is don’t worry:-)

      All the best
      Ethan

  111. Ben says:

    Hi Ethan, thank you for responding to my earlier comments. I’ve been taking warm baths at night with epsom salts which seems to help me feel better after a day of excercising. I saw a neurologist on Friday who specializes in sleep problems and he confirmed that Benadryl and OTC sleep meds containing diphenhydramine are not good to take for this problem. Also, drinking before bed might help reduce the jerks and make you fall asleep faster but it will give you bad sleep and make the jerks worse the following night, thus fueling the cycle. Anyone out there who is using diphenhydramine and/or alcohol as a way to deal with this I would say stop taking it immediately and see what happens. You will probably go an entire night without sleep when you do this, as I did, but I found that later in the week I started to be able to fall asleep normally at least some nights. I had another bad night last night, but I suspect (and hope) my body is still adjusting. It seems to be a combination of the hypnic jerk and simply the anxiety of having one that keep me awake. Magnesium citrate, deep breathing excercises, and the hot baths work well for the anxiety. The doctor recommended prescribing Clonazepam, but only if the bad nights continue after a couple weeks of better sleep hygiene. I’m hoping I don’t need to go on that as I know you can become dependent on it, but if this keeps going on I’ll be willing to try anything. Thanks for reading, and thanks for all the advice here, it’s helped me tremendously just to know I’m not alone in this.

    • Hi Ben,

      You’re very welcome, and good to hear from you again. Thanks very much for posting the update. It’s always useful to hear what doctors have told people about their sleep issues. And this is another confirmation of the potential impact of diphenhydramine on hypnic jerks.

      You’re right about alcohol helping you get to sleep quicker, but then interrupting later sleep stages. There was some interesting research done last year which confirmed that. I wrote about it here.

      Sleep hygiene is really important, and can be extremely effective. I know it’s what helped me improve my own sleep problems. Stick with it, and hopefully you’ll find it helps over the coming weeks.

      All the best
      Ethan

  112. Ryan says:

    Great article…this is just what I was looking for and I will try a few of the tips tonight.

    I’ve been experiencing hypnic jerks almost all night for the last 3-4 weeks. When it started happening, it freaked me out and for a few nights I kept thinking “am I dying? – should I go to the hospital? Do I have a brain tumor?” The anxiety of the hypnic jerks just made things worse. My heart pounds for a few minutes after each jerk and I was getting (at best) maybe 4 hours of sleep a night. I also started getting minor tremors in my hands and feelings of vertigo during the day and a little bit of a headache at night (this may have been from the lack of sleep). I had an MRI and CT Scan a few months before these hypnic jerks started happening and they all came back negative.

    I started taking magnesium and vitamin b-2 and that may have helped. The jerks were more manageable for a few days but they have since come back in full force. I am going through quite a bit of life changes and I don’t THINK i am stressed or anxious about them but my body may be telling me otherwise.

    Anyway, it’s a comfort to know that I’m not the only one who experiences these frequently and knowing this alone may help me get better sleep. Thank you for the article!

    • Hi Ryan

      Thank you for your comment, and compliment. I’m very glad you found the article helpful. I think you’re right in that knowing other people experience something similar can be a help in relaxing about the problem, especially if you know it’s not something to worry about too much.

      The section I added recently with tips from readers is full of great advice. I’m guessing that’s what you meant when you said you would try a few tips tonight. I’d be interested to know if any of them helped in the coming days or weeks. Feel free to pop back if you have the time!

      And stress can be a funny thing – not everyone is so quick to acknowledge that they are experiencing stress. If you are a resilient person it may be that you simply don’t think about stress and just ‘get on’ with it. But underneath we all react in some way to life changes. Hopefully the changes will all be for the better in the future and you’ll go back to sleeping normally.
      All the best
      Ethan

  113. Tyrone biggums says:

    Today when I fell asleep i felt like I was falling but I couldn’t move like I was paralyzed what does that mean

    • Hi Tyrone,

      I couldn’t tell you exactly what it means – it could have been a simple hypnic jerk. Or it could have been that you were having a dream and then woke up with that feeling. I wouldn’t worry about it if it was a one-off experience – if it happens again, feel free to come back and ask for more ideas.

      Regards
      Ethan

    • Vee says:

      This article – and its comments and your responses – are awesome.
      I don’t know if you allow links but there is a great BBC article that basically says these twitches are the result of a fight for control of your body between the part of your brain that controls conscious activity and the part of your brain that regulates sleep.
      http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120522-suffer-from-sleep-shudders

      • Hi Vee

        Thanks for the comment, and the compliment – kind words like yours always help to keep going with the comment responses and resist the temptation to close them:-)
        I don’t usually allow links, but I just read that article and it’s a very nicely written piece and an interesting theory. So I’ll definitely keep it in for people to check out if they want to.
        The author’s idea that hypnic jerks are the final actions of the body in relation to the external world as you fall asleep is an interesting idea. I like that a lot.

        Thanks again
        Ethan

  114. Alex says:

    Hi Ethan,

    I also wonder whether hypnic jerks are a symptom of some issue with our bodies “electrical” systems. Hypnic jerks do feel like a jolt, not unlike being zapped by electricity.

    It’s an internal thing and probably indicates a much healthier lifestyle is needed to restore balance to brain chemistry, mind and body, given the general unhealthiness of the standard western diet and its emphasis on medications to mask symptoms rather than dealing with root causes.

    Your excellent work in creating a first-class site and gathering so much info and useful advice on the issue is to be greatly commended!

    I have had hypnic jerks on and off for years (I’m now 40) and after recently experiencing them again over the past three months, I decided to finally figure out what these jolts were called and who else was experiencing them, and very quickly came across your site.

    I am one of the people who wrote to you about Cayenne Pepper in tea, with a few dashes of turmeric, a dash of cinnamon and now a teaspoon of organic extra virgin coconut oil in hot water with or without your favourite tea, and I’ve noticed that, as I’m fallign asleep, my hypnic jerks in the chest area have reduced to one per night from what could be several.

    While I’ve had leg jerks in the past, until I started taking the cayenne tea drink it was all in the chest area in recent times. Now, I have this one “body” jerk from the chest area, which as with the other jerks just happens and is over just as quickly, and then over the course of say 5 minutes I get two or three quick pretty soft leg jerks and that appears to be it.

    I have been eating more healthily, more salads and veggies and have cut out sodas, a lot of junk foods (but to be honest need to cut out more), and starting to eat more fruit in the mornings (to replace the junk food).

    I need to do a lot more exercise, too, so an excellent diet and proper exercise really needs to be done, but even so, I’m very glad to find this community with tons of great ideas and a motivated moderator running a dynamic site that will send you to sleep – later that evening when you need it, not while you’re reading it! haha :-)

    I’ll also need to update you and interested readers on the effects a real commitment to a solidly healthy diet and daily morning exercise has on hypnic jerks. The cayenne tea has definitely had a positive effect, and I have started taking some magnesium (but not every night, I’m actually reminded to have some right now) but need to re-read your recent wrap-up of great advice and ideas and implement more of them.

    Thank you again and best regards,

    Alex.

    • Hi Alex,

      Nice to hear from you again! First of all, thank you for the compliments – It’s always much appreciated:-)

      Good for you for keeping on top of the healthy diet and lifestyle. I’ll definitely be interested to hear if your dedication makes a difference over the coming weeks. I’m sure it will.

      Hopefully you’ll find something new and/or helpful in the new section of readers’ tips. The Cayenne Pepper theory is in there as well, you’ll be pleased to hear. I’m yet to try it myself, but might have to now that several people have spoken about it.

      All the best
      Ethan

  115. Alex says:

    Oh, I forgot to add that I used to drink a lot of energy drinks, Red Bull but mostly the V brand (which may or may not be on sale where you are). I knew it wasn’t good for me but did it anyway – they’re mildly addictive because of the caffeine and everything else “artificial” boost, just like coffee.

    That has now been replaced by the cayenne pepper drink.

    I also sometimes have the cayenne drink with a teaspoon or two of 100% cocoa or even better cacao powder (the mayans drank such a chili chocolate drink and plenty still do), and a few times I’ve put a half teaspoon of instant coffee in the morning instead of a tea bag or cocoa powder.

    So, I have eliminated energy drinks from my diet, which I’m definitely happy about! I admit to having at least a couple of cans over the last 3 months but that’s a far cry from drinking up to 3 cans of the stuff a day, which with the sugar content as well has contributed to me weighing 96kgs (211 pounds) – another reason for the diet changes thus far (with more to come) and the need for an exercise program.

    I have also started wearing a Fitbit fitness tracker and have started walking more to get to the 10,000 steps target but I realise I need to boost the target to 15,000 or 20,000 and do more exercise to really make a difference to my weight and hopefully to help the body deal with stopping its hypnic jerking before going to sleep.

    Ethan, if you feel you can merge the above paragraphs into the previous comment, feel free to do so – apologies, I just felt I had to add these details. :-)

    • Hi again

      It doesn’t matter about the two comments – no need to merge them, and I’ve already replied now.
      Yes, energy drinks are definitely good to take out of the diet, as is caffeiene. Easier said than done though!

      Good luck with the exercise regime – it sounds like you’re really trying hard to make significant changes in your life, which is fantastic. I’m impressed with the dedication and hope you manage to keep it up and achieve your goals.

      I’m actually going to be reviewing the sleep/exercise trackers over the coming months. I’ve just received one in the post today so will be trying it out from tonight. I’d be interested to hear your opinion of the Fitbit if you have one which monitors sleep?

      Regards
      Ethan

      • Ben says:

        I’ve been using a Fitbit for a several months now and it is a useful way to track how much exercise you are getting. On the flip side, you don’t want to take too many steps. One day I logged 38,000 steps and the jerks flared up that evening. Best to keep it at 20k or less I think, and stick to the morning and not the evening.

        I’ve also been trying the healthier lifestyle. I got into a bad habit of using alcohol and OTC sleeping pills as a way to deal with these jerks at night. During that time I was getting maybe 3-5 hours of sleep at night, mainly due to waking up too early. I stopped doing that almost 3 weeks ago, and I also gave up caffeine completely and am trying to eat more fruits/veggies. I do a thorough de-stress routine before going to bed, including a hot bath with epsom salts, a mug of magnesium citrate tea, and deep breathing excercises.

        This is has all helped, the jerks are less intense and I’m getting more like 5-6 hours now and an occasional night of not sleeping at all. The frustrating thing is I’m still getting dozens of these jerks throughout the night and I’m still waking up too early which I don’t understand at all. It’s usually not from a jerk, I just wake up for no reason at 4:30 or so and sometimes I can get back to sleep but other times I just keep on getting the muscle spasms until I give up and get out of bed. I suspect that might have been from taking too high a dose of melatonin before bed, but I cut out the melatonin and I still wake up too early, though not quite as early as before it seems.

        I guess after all this my question is how long does it take to really make a habit of healthy living and good sleep hygiene before you can start sleeping normally again? I’m thinking of calling back the neurologist I saw in the next few days and ask about taking Clonazepam, which he recommended as an option, though I’m wondering if I should wait longer before trying that.

        I should also add that I’m one who also gets these jerks and muscle twitches while awake too, though they are not nearly as strong as when I’m trying to doze off. It’s harder to see the connection to the jerks and stress while in bed, but when I’m having a stressful day at work the twitches definitely flare up. I’m convinced that subconscious anxiety is an enormous factor in this

        • Hi Ben,

          Thanks for the comment, and sorry to hear you’re experiencing what seems to me very likely a lot of stress and/or anxiety. I think if you get muscle spasms during the day and you’re convinced it’s anxiety, then you probably need to do something about that as well as keeping up with the good sleep hygiene. How you go about doing that is a big question of course.

          If you like breathing exercises etc, then you could take a look at mindfulness as a self-help option. If you do a search online, you’ll find plenty of websites and books on the topic. It’s something I got into when under a lot of stress a while back, and found it helped both the day-time anxiety and my insomnia. If you’re worried though, then it may also be a good idea to check back with your doctor for their advice.

          As for your question about how long does it take to reap the benefits of putting sleep hygiene into practice, it’s a tricky question to answer. I sometimes think it’s a case of experimenting with as many different techniques as possible, in the hope that one of two things will happen:
          1) you stumble upon something which was a serious factor in your sleep problems, which could be one simple thing like caffeine for example.
          Or :
          2) You put so much effort into sleep hygiene, that the accumulation of so many good practices eventually wins over and you start sleeping better.

          My point is that it’s not an exact science. Some people may find that there are just one or two lifestyle choices which are wreaking havoc on their sleep. Others (like me) may find that they are very sensitive to sleep disruption, and so need to put a ton of work into doing everything possible to eliminate things which can keep you awake, whilst doing things which can promote good sleep.

          In my personal experience, once I’d started on some sleep hygiene practice, I think it was a couple of weeks before I noticed a difference. But probably a few months before I felt like I had finally conquered the worst of the insomnia I had experienced for years. And that was partly because even if I did lots of things right, I still sometimes did just one thing which would counteract everything else – such as eating chocolate not long before bed! So for me, a total acceptance that I needed to put all the tips I had learned into practice, every single day, was needed before I could reap the full benefits.

          So I guess in some ways, the time it takes to work will somewhat depend on your level of commitment to self-help techniques, and perhaps a little bit of luck:-)

          Hope that helps a little
          Regards
          Ethan

  116. Alex says:

    Hi Ethan,

    Thanks for the quick reply!

    I have the Fitbit Flex, and wrote a review about it here: (Sorry Alex, I don’t usually permit links)

    The sleep tracker does a good job of showing when you were restless and asleep based on your movements.

    Seeing when you were “restless” is an interesting thing to see, not that there’s too much you can do about it if you’re asleep, but it is good to see that Fitbit Flex reports peaceful sleep is over the majority of the night.

    A silent vibrating alarm can wake you with 9 minute snooze cycles, but it doesn’t track your sleep cycle to wake you at an appropriate time, as with the Sleep Cycle app, but for me, sleep tracking with the Fitbit Flex is secondary.

    You don’t get this “restless” reading using iOS or Android Sleep Cycle app, but you are able to be woken up at a much better time as I’ll explain.

    The app costsUS 99c or $1.29 in Australia for iOS and 99c on Android in the US and Australia.

    I use the Sleep Cycle app on a second iPhone switched to Plane mode at night, so no Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Cellular signals zapping my brain to the side and in front of my pillow where you need to place the plugged in phone, face down – the proximity sensor makes the screen turn off when you do that.

    The app tracks your sleep states – light sleep, deep sleep and when you’re awake – and wakes you in the lightest sleep state and intelligent snoozing during the wake-up timeframe, with a range of gentle tones that will get louder as necessary, rather than when you’re in the middle of your deep sleep mode with a jarring alarm.

    A 30 minute wake-up phase is set as the default setting in Sleep Cycle but you can set it from anywhere between 10 minutes and 90 minutes as desired. It can mean you’re woken up before the end of your default waking up, but if you do get up, you feel more refreshed and there’s an intelligent snooze that arrives at shorter and shorter intervals as you get to the end of your 30 minute (or custom) wake-up phase giving you extra snooze time if you need it without letting you sleep in for several 9 minute cycles and then waking up far later than you intended.

    So the Fitbit flex definitely does give you some useful sleep information, and the vibration-only “alarm” can silently wake you up, but with Sleep Cycle I’m using two different methods of sleep tracking for my information and benefitting through better morning wake-ups.

    My guess is you’ll end up doing something similar as part of your testing because it’s possible to do and provides you with useful information and with Sleep Cycle a way to safely hack your sleeping so you wake up more refreshed – whether on iOS or Android.

    There’s also an app I haven’t tried for Windows Phone called “Sleep Well” that purports to do the same thing.

    It is a bit more expensive at $3.49, but that’s still cheaper than we all paid for boxed software in stores a decade or two ago and couldn’t use when sleeping anyway even if it existed because the accelerometers and pocket sized technology weren’t affordable or widespread as they truly are today in smartphones.

    I now have to live up to my statements about getting fit and healthy but I started the day with the cayenne tea drink as I’ve described and ate a large fruit varied salad in the morning with, before having a light pasta with prawn and mushroom for lunch and a big salad and a quarter roasted chicken for dinner, with the “tea” during the day and a couple of cups tonight, and am doing more walking thanks to the encouragement from the Fitbit, so I’m happy with the progress thus far but know I still have a lot more work to do.

    I’m motivated to do it though because it all comes down to your health – the most important thing especially as you get older because as we all know, without your health, life is decidedly more difficult as we’ve all seen befall others, and it’s either now or letting things slide and trying to do all this at 65 when it will be even harder still and your body much more worn out.

    The plan is to really work on this for the next month and I’ll report back then – hopefully I will have lost at least 25 pounds (11kg) which would actually be a noticeable difference.

    Finally, I did re-read the updated list of tips last night, which I had read a few weeks ago when you had first posted it, and had noticed then and last night again the reference to Cayenne pepper with the wise advice to do some research online first, which was great to see listed on both occasions. :-)

    Good luck with your own testing and have fun until we talk again!

    Cheers,

    Alex.

    • Hi again Alex,

      First of all, my apologies for editing your comment to remove the link. I hate doing it, especially when someone makes the effort to write a comment here, and especially when you’re review was very well written, but I have to be very careful with links to other review sites as they can damage my website.

      Secondly, thank you very much for coming back and giving your thoughts on the different sleep trackers. It’s interesting that you note that Fitbit as a sleep monitor serves a secondary purpose for you, with activity tracking being the main goal.

      It’s also interesting that you make comparisons with sleep apps which are considerably cheaper! That’s something I will be looking at closely when I get round to reviewing all the various different sleep monitors.

      Once again, good luck with your new healthy lifestyle regime and I’ll look forward to hearing back from you in the future.

      Regards
      Ethan

  117. Ben says:

    Hi Ethan, thanks for the useful tips. I think you are right that you have to stay committed to a better sleep routine and have some patience and eventually things will get better. I hadn’t looked into mindfulness before but will give that a try. I think I may have finally turned a corner in that I now have more good nights than bad nights during the week. The hypnic jerks are still there though on most nights, not all, I can deal with it and fall asleep. The doctor suggested giving it another couple weeks to see if it continues to improve, and if not would try giving me an MRI to investigate. Trying to stay optimistic about this and this site certainly helps! Thanks again.

    • Hi Ben,

      I’m glad to hear you found the tips useful and that you’re having more good nights. Mindfulness is great, in my opinion, so if you do feel like giving it a go, I’m sure you won’t regret it.

      Stay positive, and hopefully that MRI won’t be necessary.
      Regards
      Ethan

  118. Rafa says:

    Hi Ethan, some good advice here.

    I can testify, as most others here can, how unpleasant these jerks can be.

    However I think my case is slightly unusual in that I don’t get these jerks at night when falling asleep, I get them in the morning when waking up. For example if I have slightly woken and try to doze off again I will get these jolts.
    They make it very hard to get back to sleep if I have woken too early and it would not be an overstatement to call them distressing.
    Its literally a shock to the system… like someone jumping out and scaring you when not expected.

    I had these quite regularly up until a few months ago when they stopped. In the last few days I have had a constant headache / migraine and I have notices the jerks once again.. starting off a few days ago quite subtly until today where they were very obvious in the morning. They do stop once i get up.

    They first started about 1.5 years ago, just after my GP and a pain specialist initially diagnosed me with a flair up of a herniated disc in my neck and put me on Lyrica (an unpleasant drug). It turns out that it was a misdiagnosis despite all efforts to get the medical professionals to hear me out about why I didn’t think they were correct. On top of that I have suffered from Chronic anxiety for 15+ years, although it has been well controlled for the majority of that time until that “flare up”.

    I do believe that stress and anxiety play a major role in this. Sometimes you may not even be aware of how stressed you are both physically and mentally and these Jerks can be an indication.

    A few things I have found useful in alleviating them are a supplement of magnesium (and calcium) before sleeping and also montmorrency cherries (available in capsule form). They are high in antioxidants and increase the melatonin levels in your body which is good for sleeping. If things are really quite bad then there is Xanax, but I wouldn’t rely on it for more than a few days in a row as your body will get used to the dosage and youll have to increase it to get an effect. Not Good.

    I would be interested to hear what opinions or ideas you may have about the morning jerks. I havent come across anyone else who gets this. Very Odd.

    Thanks for reading!

    • Hi Rafa,

      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear about the problems you’ve had with hypnic jerks, stress and that misdiagnosis! It is slightly unusual, but not unheard of. I can’t tell you exactly why you may be getting them in the mornings, but I could hazard a guess that it’s not too dissimilar from getting them when falling asleep initially. But in your case, perhaps rather than seeing them as happening as waking up, it might be more helpful to see them as happening as you’re falling asleep ‘again’ after waking up. Do you feel stressed when you wake up too early? I know I do, so maybe that could be a factor involved in them happening at that time. Maybe try some relaxation exercises, and remind yourself that it’s ok if you wake up early, and that you’ll fall asleep again soon enough.

      But perhaps other readers have some thoughts. There are a few people following these comments quite closely I believe, so they may connect with what you’ve experienced.

      Otherwise I’d say keep working on the stress, keep up the healthy ideas for dealing with that and sleep in general as you say, and hopefully it will pass again soon.
      All the best
      Ethan

  119. Kevin says:

    I started to get minor hypnic kerks when I was about 23. I would ‘jolt’ suddenly while falling asleep, and sit up fast in my bed dazed for about 3 or 4 seconds like someone zapped me with a taser.

    Back then it was harmless, about once in a month.

    They went away for a while and came back when I was 29. I’m 49 now and they have pretty much been non stop and getting progressively worse. Now happening for an hour straight every night.

    They are my personal hell.

    Sometimes they’re just ‘jolts’ that run through my head from ‘somewhere’ and zap me up suddenly, and who the hell can sleep like that???

    Most times they are the muscles around my head (bands) suddenly clinching and going into spasms, so much so that my bones in my head literally crackles and pop. And it’s sudden and violent.

    Before when this started I used to get head ‘shakes’ while falling asleep, like a vibration/buzzing, then CRACK, a jolt and the energy would disperse and I would feel calmed and sleep.

    If only I had JUST that these days.

    I can’t say I’ve tried everything but dang near. There are patterns I notice though.

    1) Anxiety and stress adds to it, BIG TIME. Thinking ‘bad’ thoughts or ruminating while sleeping is the core.

    2) Regular sleep schedules: I know, it’s hard to fathom but the more regular the pattern the less invasive they are.

    3) I smoke now, again. When I quit smoking for over a year, they were very mild.

    4) Listening to rain sounds in headphones is almost like a natural sedative. It’s worked better than medications at times.

    5) hot baths or showers before sleep.

    6) The more tired/exhausted you are, the more the jerks happen.

    Exercise does NOT help. I’m in the gym hard at cardio and weights 5 days a week like religion, it has no effect.

    Diet either, I eat a strict diet of plenty vegetables, meats, no processed food, etc. Get all my macronutrients, it has no effect.

    Valerian Root, helps. Melatonin helps a little with the muscles, but sometimes I can take a LOT and it does nothing but just make me more tired.

    The NUMBER 1 thing that helped me is Klonopin and a couple other Benzos. But Benzos scare the crap out of me, have really bad side effects/withdrawal, and a new study came out linking their overuse to a 50% increase in Alzheimer’s risk. No thanks.

    • Hi Kevin

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your experiences, which sound very unpleasant indeed. Have you been to a doctor to get a medical opinion during all the years this has been going on? It sounds more severe than typical hypnic jerks, so it might be worth getting yourself checked out jut to be sure it’s nothing else – assuming you haven’t done already.

      Otherwise, I think the things you’ve noted are very sensible. Many people find that over-tiredness makes them worse, and many of the things you mention are all part of having good sleep hygiene, which can help enormously with many different sleep problems.

      And yes, whilst benzodiazepines are known to help with hypnic jerks, they’re definitely not good to be taking long-term.

      I hope you manage to find something that helps – perhaps in the tips section there was something new for you to try.

      All the best
      Ethan

  120. Kevin says:

    I forgot to add to my post before.

    1) Supplements/Vitamins do not help either. I’m on every supplement known, a walking vitamin, even with aminos and protein shakes sups. Vitamin B, Calcium, D3-D, Omegas, nothing.

    2) Strangely, Coconut Oil (Organic from Traders Joes) helped. I have no clue why.

    3) Meditation helps immensely. Just calming the mind before sleep, staying away from stimulus, or light. And being in the moment as you fall asleep and not in your head.

    4) Dehydration and hunger also make it worse.

    5) The fear of it happening, makes it worse. But who the heck wouldn’t be afraid of it?? Can’t figure out how to master that part.

    Anyways, those are just my insights from more than a decade with this now.

    • Hi again Kevin,

      Thanks once again for the thoughts. As for the fear of it happening problem, that’s a very common issue with sleep problems in general. You can easily get into a vicious circle of worrying about your sleep problems, to the extent that even if the original cause has long since disappeared, your worry itself can continue to cause problems. Snapping out of that one can be done in various different ways. And I think your idea of being in the moment and doing relaxation exercises or meditation are good examples. But perhaps you could also try some positive mantras to deal with the fear. Exactly what the mantra would be I’ll leave to your imagination:-)
      Regards
      Ethan

  121. Annee-Michelle says:

    Hi, I’m 13. I have hypnic jerks maybe once a week, it depends. It varies a lot. It’s the worst feeling, it’s so scary! I’m normally not even dreaming before I jolt, I just jolt out of nowhere, but like you said, I do often feel like I’m falling before I wake up. Is there a way to prevent them, or what causes them?

    • Hi Annee-Michelle,

      Thanks for your comment. The main thing is to tell yourself that they are absolutely normal, and most people get them. When I have them they are always before I dream as well. One minute I am awake and falling asleep, then the next I am jolting out of ‘darkness’ which hasn’t been filled by dreams yet. That’s normal.
      In terms of preventing them, well once a week really isn’t very often, so you may just have to accept it as a normal thing in your life, and perhaps try to see them a a funny or interesting experience. That’s what I do! I remind myself to have a little giggle to myself and fall asleep again. If you want more ideas, then have a read of the section in the article about reader’s tips. There are lots of ideas there for you.
      I hope that helps a little.
      Regards
      Ethan

  122. Anonymous says:

    Nope not unusual. I have the same thing had them for two years now.. when they are really bad I get them at onset of sleep. That is how it started. You get them in light sleep. But if you are twitching you cannot get into deep sleep. Without Lunesta and Now Zanax ER I would not have survived. The Extended release allows me to sleep way better than anything I have tried. I am sure now this is anxiety based. Even though you feel relaxed at night. It is a sleep-wake disorder brought on by Anxiety. Here is how you can tell. Take a Zanax ER. I don’t care if I have to take it for the next 100 years. Not sleeping is deadly.

    • Hi there

      Thanks for your comment, and I think you’re right that anxiety can play a big role in how severely you experience hypnic jerks. It’s good you’ve found something which can help you sleep. Though I personally wouldn’t recommend relying on strong medication for the rest of your life. If you find the motivation one day to find other ways to help you relax and deal with anxiety, you may find it helps in the long run even more than medication.
      All the best
      Ethan

  123. vivek says:

    i have been experienced this from last 10 years i don’t know how to explain but i feel some power is either gone in the body or some things have come out from the body like soul of some other loved ones because if you see it comes exact between the awakes and sleep so its not + either -.at 0 point sometimes my body goes up in the air 2 inches and drops down, but when the body lifts i does not know anything about it, when it drops i am wake from the sleep, i feel its soul which travels from our body its beyond the imagination.

    • Hi Vivek

      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure I understood exactly what you meant in the middle, but the idea of the soul leaving the body is not unusual. I know in the past one reason many people say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes for example is because they believed your soul left your body, so the bless you was to keep it safe while the soul found its way back! So with the force of the hypnic jerk which you can feel, I understand why you may think the soul leaves the body. I don’t believe that personally, but I imagine you’re not alone with that idea!
      Regards
      Ethan

  124. Hayley says:

    Hi Ethan:

    I just wanted to let you know that it’s been close to two months since I stopped taking Benadryl, and my hypnic jerks are down to a couple a week. If I’ve had a tough day, they might be severe enough that I have to get up for a while, but that’s only happened 3 or 4 times. Other than that, I might get one or two every few nights. I’ve been able to sleep in bed rather than on the couch now that I’m not flailing around. It’s been very nice.

    Does anyone else notice they get a feeling of an electrical shock a few seconds before the jerking? I get it in my big toe which clues me in that one is coming.

    • Hi Hayley,

      Great to hear from you again, and I’m really pleased to hear that it’s had such a massive effect. From what I remember, that’s a very big improvement. It’s amazing how just one simple change in life can make such a difference, assuming that it is the fault of Benadryl, which it sounds like is the case for you. It must be such a relief:-)
      I haven’t had the electrical shock thing, but I know a couple of other readers have mentioned it. Maybe they’ll come and talk to your about it if they’re still following the comments.
      All the best and I hope your new found more peaceful sleep continues…
      Ethan

  125. Jay says:

    A few days ago I had keyhole day surgery for gallbladder removal, with a general anaesthetic, and stayed with a friend for the first night after the operation.
    I spent the time there resting/waking and had about 3 big hypnic jerks which were far more forceful and surprising than they ever usually are (I have them fairly regularly).

    I was also constantly ‘brought back’ from the edge of sleep by my brain? and did not actually sleep at all for many hours.
    I regularly experience Exploding Head Syndrome, and this ‘bringing back’ was just like EHS but without the exploding noise, and continued for hours, but was not disturbing as I was so relaxed it didn’t matter whether I was asleep or not.
    I had a considerable amount of painkillers inside me, which I know put me on a kind of high, so am thinking that these and the anaesthetic had created both of these events?

    My anaesthetist who I spoke to before the op. had not heard of EHS.

    • Hi Jay

      Thanks for your comment, and I hope you’re recovering well from the surgery. Your story reminded me of the last time I had surgery a couple of years ago. I was on a morphine pump in recovery, and remember not being able to sleep because every time I nodded off, I would jolt back awake, with a weird feeling of not being able to breathe properly. I spoke to the doc about this who told me I was probably having depressed breathing due to the large amount of morphine I had in my system. They changed it to a different kind, and the problem was much better not long afterwards, though still remained a little. So in my personal experience, I think strong medication, as you would have after surgery, can cause sleep disruption. I guess you’ll be ever clearer once you stop taking it and presumably stop having the sensation you described.
      All the best and speedy recovery!
      Ethan

  126. Ben says:

    Hi again Ethan, I’m now going on 6 months since these hypnic jerks started and I’m very worried that this has become the new normal and it will never go away. I’ve already tried the usual home remedies (meditation, no caffeine/alcohol, vitamins, warm baths before bed, eat healthy foods, etc.). It all helps a little but not nearly enough for something so chronic like this. It’s very depressing thinking I will be having disturbed sleep almost every night for the rest of my life. I guess eventually I will get used to it, but of course I would rather find a solution. My doc prescribed me a small dose of clonazepam which most definitely helps, but of course it has the tolerance risk. I try not to take it every night, especially on weekends or vacations where I’m less stressed and can usually sleep a lot better. I’m certain that underlying anxiety is causing this in my case. If I don’t take the pills on a week day, even if i don’t FEEL all that stressed, I’m usually jerking for 1-3 hours before i can fall asleep, and I also usually wake up too early for some reason, usually not from a jerk. Maybe there is some subconscious voice telling me I’m stressed, I will have hypnic jerks, and I will be exhausted at work the next day. How does one go about turning off subconscious thoughts? I wish I could go to bed and somehow erase my memories of this bad sleep the last 6 months. If the clonazepam continues to work I want to keep taking it despite the risks. Have you or anyone else out there heard of any other prescription meds that work for this? I was thinking of asking my doc about non-addicting anti-seizure meds that might be out there. Also, I know he will bring up doing a sleep study. Anyone have any experience with sleep studies? I worry that I’ll do it and I won’t have any jerks and they’ll think I’m just crazy. I tend to sleep better when not in my usual bed. Also, if this is caused by subconscious anxiety would it be more useful to see a psychiatrist about this? Wish I had some magic solution I could share with everyone but again, more questions than answers. Thanks for listening.

    • Hi Ben

      Good to hear from you again, though I wish the circumstances were better for your sake. Sorry to hear it’s continuing to be such a problem for you.

      I think getting a sleep study done could be a good thing. I imagine you’ll probably still get the jerks even if in a new bed, though they might not be as severe if you’ve noticed that. But they would look out for all kinds of things and be able to help you understand your sleep in general, and see if there is anything specific they can identify.
      As for seeing a psychiatrist, they tend to be on the medical side of dealing with mental health, so may end up prescribing you medication anyway or referring you to a more appropriate service, which could be a talking therapy or psychologist. It sounds like that might be beneficial if you feel under so much stress. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting some counselling, and it might be a great help.
      You could also try more self-help methods. Something I’m a big fan of is ‘mindfulness’. You can get self-help workbooks with audio CDs which talk you through the different exercises it describes. It’s fantastic for dealing with over-active, worrying, stressful minds. So if you have got yourself into a vicious circle of worrying about your sleep, it could be a good way of helping with that. But more importantly, it’s a good way to deal with stress and anxiety in general. If you look on amazon you’ll find very high reviews from people for some books. I highly recommend it as I used it myself when I was going through a difficult patch in life, and it helped me calm what at the time was a ridiculously worrying mind! It’s worth having a look at at the very least:-)
      Also, have you had a look at the updated section with tips from readers which I added to the article? You may find something new in there that you could try.
      All the best
      Ethan

  127. Nelson says:

    Hello Ethan…I’m 27 year old from India. I’ve quite a different experience to share with you. I started having hypnic jerks/sleep starts after playing vigorous badminton on Sep 2013. I’ve been playing for a long time, but that day it was long and intense. I could never fell asleep that night. Every time I sleep, I get these jerks especially more in the areas that I exercise much for the play like wrist, shoulders, neck etc. Probably, this might explain the jerking due to lactic acid build up in working muscles. I can still remember those pathetic night full of these sleep killer jerks.
    Every time I try to sleep, these jerks would jolt me awake. And, I never slept at all for next 2 nights. Moreover, anxiety would follow these jerks. The fear of not being productive in the university due to lack of sleep made me dread those nights. I always slept good, for about 8 hours and I’m super active the next morning. However, after this jerking episode, I could never catch sleep for more than 4-5 hours. I still wonder why. Interestingly, even this 4-5 hour sleep was more accompanied with frightening dreams/nightmares. And, I never initially suspected it was the workout/play that gave these jerks.
    When I went to a GP on the 4th day, she thought it could be RLS or PLMD. She put me on magnesium and multivitamin supplements. Meanwhile, the frequency of the jerks were decreasing. Probably this could be attributed to supplements. Somehow, I managed to catch 4-5 hours sleep. Then, I started playing badminton . Ohh!!! things turned ugly this time and I spent 4 nights without sleep disturbed by the jerks. I hated my life on some of those days. And, I stopped playing badminton or doing any exercise.
    I met the neurologist on one of the subsequent days. Initially, he suspected stress and anxiety could be the cause and put me on EndDep/Amitriptyline. But it never worked. I still had these jerks (about 20 of them) every night distracting my sleep, even without exercise. The frequency of the jerks never decreased and my sleep quality never improved. I found that when I sleep in some positions (in a relaxed manner), it made me fall asleep faster. I understood that as I fell asleep, my muscles suddenly lose tension (this is called atonia and is normal) just before you enter stage 1 sleep. My experience-This is the phase when the jerks kick in. I think the jerks somehow make, especially, the working muscles not to lose the tension.
    Later, my neurologist planned for a sleep study and EEG, may be after 3 months. He told me that I took long time to fall asleep due to these jerks. My sleep cycles were slightly abnormal. It had more REM sleep. He was convinced that I’ve hypnagogic jerks and prescribed me clonazepam which worked for me, but I knew that it was a benzo. Still, I would have 2-3 jerks every night and by God’s grace, I learnt to stop worrying every time I jolt awake. Anyway, I would sleep for 6-7 hours with this medicine on and I felt okay next morning.
    Meanwhile, my Church started to pray for me regularly and later, after 3 months, someone suggested me to visit a particular reputed neurologist in the town. He was an old guy. I could say definitely he would have treated about a million of patients, in India, by that time. He went through my medical history and asked me some questions on my lifestyle. I don’t remember much that he said at that time. All that I remember is that anxiety would aggravate these jerks and make the sleep miserable. He prescribed me combination of sodium valporate and nitrazepam for next 2 months, and asked me to stop clonazepam. These jerks completely died after 2 months and my sleep quality improved. Thank God!!! What a relief it was for me. Today, I’m on no medicines and I sleep good for 8 hours. However, I’ve to say that when I play or work out, I do get these jerks that distract my sleep. There were intermittent days when I was on this sodium valporate and nitrazepam combo which would kill these jerks. So, I avoid any exercise that involve quick muscle response. Atmost, I jog and swim to keep myself fit.
    What medicine worked for me may not work for you. I’m writing this for the encouragement of all hoping that someone, like me, would find a hope that doesn’t disappoint :-).

    Best Regards,
    Nelson

    • Hi Nelson,

      Thank you for your comment and taking the time to explain your story and history with hypnic jerks. It’s always interesting to hear from people who have received medical advice and been to see specialists. It’s also interesting how medication usually ends up being the recommended cause of action, at least temporarily.
      But in your case, as with many others I suspect, whilst medication undeniably helps, it’s often lifestyle changes which make the difference ultimately. So it’s good to know that you found out what was causing your hypnic jerks, though of course it’s a shame that you couldn’t continue doing something you enjoyed like you did before, i.e. badminton.
      I guess you now have the choice of taking it easy when it comes to exercise, or playing badminton and either ending up with hypnic jerks or having to take medication to deal with them!
      All the best
      Ethan

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