Hypnic Jerk – Jolted Awake When Falling Asleep…


cartoon of a man having a hypnic jerk

Have you ever woken up with the feeling of falling?

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

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.



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

How often do you experience a hypnic jerk?

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Poll 2

Do you think that stress or anxiety makes them worse?

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Poll 3

What impact do hypnic jerks have on your sleep?

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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.

If you also experience strange or uncomfortable sensations in your legs, or have regular twitching during the day or evening then it’s possible that you may have restless legs syndrome. Again this 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.

  • Magnesium supplements have been helpful for several readers, 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. On reader reported that after several months of taking 2 x 500mg magnesium citrate supplements every day, the hypnic jerks reduced significantly.
  • Continuing with the theme of hypnic jerks being made worse by a mineral deficiency, it’s important to assess your current diet. Try to have a healthy, balanced diet. Eat less sugary and salty foods, and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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, and don’t do heavy exercise in the 3 to 4 hours before bed.

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. If you do have any other ideas, or found any of the above helpful, feel free to let us know in the comments below.


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.


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

  1. Angie says:

    Thanks for helping me to understand what I have been experience. Now I can bring to work on this! i can sleep with out worrie, that i going have a heart attack. Somtimes I do exercise late! I appreciate the information .

  2. Nicki says:

    Try googling stomach acid and anxiety. Apparently the vagus nerve in the stomach controls automatic processes. When their is to much acid, the nerve gets aggrevated and cause anxiety, panic attacks etc..and when you lay down and the night time make acid worse.

    • Hi Nicki
      Thanks for your comment. It’s very true that stomach acid can lead to anxiety and panic attacks for some people. Whether that leads to hypnic jerks or not I’m not sure. But it’s certainly something for some people to consider if they suffer from anxiety.

  3. jiwa says:

    I have this jolt all the time. I never sleep anymore until I take sleeping pill for already 5 months that can only make me sleep 2 hrs max. So in the morning till now when I am sleepy and trying to lay down and close my eyes. Its always end with painful spine jolt. It does feel like falling from high place but more pain. So sleeping never established. My mitochondria has been damaged from heavy dose of Cipro five month ago. I think my CNS also already vanished by it that causing me have a fatal Insomnia.

    • Hi Jiwa
      Thanks for your comment and sorry to hear you’ve been having such trouble sleeping. Have you spoken to your doctor about it or are you taking over the counter sleeping pills? I think maybe if you’ve been taking them for 5 months and you still get so little sleep, it might be good to talk to your doctor about alternative ideas. And as for the jolts, you can try some of the reader’s tips here in the article.

  4. Liliana says:

    I start having this symptoms after a hip replacement surgery. I am having Hypnic jerks in all my body will i am in bed. The problem is that every time I feel this, my body move too strong that I start feeling pain in my hip. I am not sure if this has something to do with the anesthesia or any nerves pinched during the surgery. I will wait to complete the 6 weeks after the surgery and if this does not stop, I will have to go to the doctor.

    • Hi Liliana

      Thanks for your comment. Is it possible to phone the doctor’s surgery to speak to your doctor briefly and get their advice? It might help set your mind at ease and they might have some suggestions.

  5. Lee leng says:

    Dear Ethan. Thanks for your prompt reply. Warmest regards. Lee leng

  6. Benjamin says:

    Hi Ethan
    I drink a lot of wine and tend to go to bed late,so I have a good sleep.recently I stopped drinking alcohol and started to notice these jerks just before I fall asleep.it is frighting this happens more than a few times at night. I will kick my legs or my arm involuntry . will do a quick jolt.then I wake up suddenly
    Kind regards

    • Hi Benjamin
      Thanks for your comment. Did you stop drinking suddenly? It could be withdrawal symptoms from the sudden change. Alcohol withdrawal is known to cause shakes/spasms etc. You might find it stops over the next few days. But if you’re concerned, talk to your doctor as they might be able to help you reduce your alcohol intake in a safe and controlled manner.

  7. Leeleng says:

    Hi. Just moved in with my partner 4 months ago. I think I just experienced Hypnic jerks for the first time. Could it be due to my partner. He snores and grinds his teeth throughout the night, so my sleep is very often disrupted.

    Warm regards.
    Lee leng

    • Hi Lee Leng
      Thanks for your comment. I think hypnic jerks usually are an internal thing, not caused by external stimulus. However, it could be that the noise he makes is just disturbing you. Unless he finds a way to deal with those problems, you might be looking at using earplugs for sleeping!

  8. Rich says:

    Had these most nights for years. They were a little scary at first, but have actually come to view them as funny now. They range in strength from almost nothing to full, all four limbs off the mattress. I believe anxiety has a large roll to okay in the frequency and strength. I started documenting them as I had done several years earlier for panic attacks. This stopped the panic attacks almost dead in their tracks as I was looking forward to them. The same cannot be said about the jerks. A healthy attitude towards them certainly reduces the impact on your life, if not the jerks themselves.

    • Hi Rich

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that it’s a good idea to try and see them with a light-hearted perspective if possible. It’s interesting that you had that success with the panic attacks. Perhaps with a little more time you might find the hypnic jerks also reduce, especially if you can manage to reduce the anxiety. Have you ever tried mindfulness techniques to help with the anxiety? You might find some success with that.

  9. Kev says:

    Hi all, my jerks have just started last few nights and are very small, takes me around 3hours to get to sleep cos of this. I drink decaf tea and my diet isn’t too bad, I just started a new job so I’m wondering if it’s stress induced but I feel ok about that now. All very confusing but I’m going to try more magnesium and a shower before bed, it’s usually my left leg that always jerks.

    • Hi Kev
      Thanks for your comment. It might well be the stress. Even though you feel ok now, sometimes stress lies beyond our concious recognition and manifests in different ways. And also, it does sometimes take time to completely reduce after a stressful event. Have you tried doing some relaxation exercises also before bed? Perhaps that might help.

  10. Kate Christman says:

    For those taking Magnesium supplements, are you typically taking that in the morning or in the evening? Thanks!

  11. randall says:

    First time responding. Daniel’s experience of a ‘last breath’ and jolting awake is similar to mine. It’s a realization feeling of what I call a ‘death wake’. It happen last night at a.m. 12:41, 12:56, 1:05 and 1:51. All the same with no real dream other than a conscious understanding of taking a ‘last breath’. First occurrences were incomplete sensations that startled me awake, then I had complete sensation of a last gulp of air and the death realization feeling before the wake-up jolt. Very disconcerting once, disturbing with multiple occurrences per night. Happens most nights with some interludes of time. Hope this helps some one.

    • Hi Randall,

      Thanks for your comment. Have you spoken to a doctor about this? I’m thinking it might be a good idea to get yourself checked over to rule out any possible conditions such as apnea.

  12. Veronica Cook says:

    I have had Hypnic Jerks for many years. First starting in the left shoulder, on which I have now had a Rotar Cuff repair. The jerks traveled down to the left hip and now after a bad fall down a seawall in 2012 occur in the small of my back.
    I have Fibromylgia diagnosed in 2006, original jerks in shoulder started in 1987 thereabouts I am under a Neurologist and have had several nerve blocks to try to halt the spasms.
    I am also on several Medications for the Fibro along with pain medications, what worries me the most is the severity of pain that these jerks cause, I liken them to severe tooth ache that just knaws away after each episode, in which I can levitate off the bed, be jerked out rigidly straight, or just suffer what I describe as a gathering of the clan which is just feeling the pain worsen as the muscles tighten, I have experienced the loud banging noises too, but not a frequent experience. I use a Sleep Apnea machine after testing found I stopped breathing 46 time a hour previous testing in 2006 had me at 23 and hour

    • Hi Veronica
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you’ve had a lot going on physically, and I can only imagine it must be very stressful dealing with all that pain on an on-going basis. Hopefully your doctor will find a way to work with your to get it under control. In the meantime you could try some of the tips from other readers and see if anything helps.

  13. Jonathan says:

    I have had these jerking for a few months now and it is driving me crazy because I can’t sleep at night, these jerks won’t let me. I feel like I am losing my mind because I can’t get enough rest!!

    • Hi Jonathan
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling to sleep because of the hypnic jerks. Have a go at some of the tips in the article, particularly the supplements like magnesium, which many people have reported helped them. With a little luck you’ll find something which also helps you.

  14. Rick says:

    I wouldn’t discount the viewpoint that the mind confuses itself and views this process as the body dying. That description is pretty accurate to me.

  15. Daniel says:

    I just hate when this started happening to me! It has completely been ruining my sleep and I get late for work 2 times almost every week because I cannot sleep. I’m just lucky that I didn’t loose my job yet.

    And yes.. For me it totally feels like I am taking my last breath and going to die, and suddenly I wake up like a thunderbolt sitting straight up in my bed.

    And of course.. When you are lucky enough to get it 2 times you know in your mind what’s going to happen right when you are about to sleep again, getting really angry and anxious about it, making it a million times worse.

    Just wanted to share my “nightmare” with you others that might have it and hate it. :)

    • Hi Daniel

      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear you’re having such a difficult time with your sleep. When you say you feel like you’re taking your last breath and feel like dying, do you actually have breathing problems when sleeping, or does it just feel like it? Any breathing difficulties at night should be seen by a doctor to rule out disorders such as apnea. Otherwise, hopefully you’ll find something useful in the article and tips you could try.

  16. Kallie says:

    Hi Ethan,
    My hypnacogic jerks have gotten progressively worse over the years. I suffer from insomnia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and anxiety. I am on quite a cocktail of medication and under the care of a few different doctors to try to manage my conditions. The jerking only used to be when I was getting ready for bed relaxing and my legs would jerk or twitch all into the night waking me and causing me to have issues getting back to sleep. Then during a doctor visit he checked my reflexes and my legs began jerking uncontrollably hard enough to fling my sandals off. He wasn’t my regular doctor but he also didn’t seem too concerned. I could only stop the jerking and shaking physically with my hands or by putting weight on them. Now I find all different parts of my body jerking at all different times of the day. Usually when I’m just sitting or lying down. I shake a lot and I sometimes feel as though I have a small electric current run through my brain. As I said a lot of this is when I’m starting to relax and my body is trying to sleep. Sometimes I’m trying to stay awake just a little longer to finishe a chapter, or finish a movie and I get zapped or jerky. I attribute a lot of mine to anxiety, insomnia and lack of sleep and my CFS/Fibro and lack of restful sleep, my medication and side effects and asking too much of an over worked and already overtaxed body. I have learned over the years I have had these diagnosis’ that you can only force so much out of your body before the bill comes due. Some pay earlier than others but the bill always comes due. The stresses you out in your body now will come back to you. And when you can’t move or walk or even do a load of laundry without having to take a break, normally getting a hug from your kid would be the highlight of your day and it physically hurt so bad you wanted to curl up and cry instead. I don’t worry too much about the jerks and spasms. But they might be from overtaxing, or stress, or medication, or RLS, or they might just be a dream that you’re running, or falling. Anything that would promote a fight or flight response. It initiated an adrenaline surge and your body jerks awake because you are feeling threatened. It could be a part of a dream or a response to an outside stimuli like a barking dog or a loud vehicle. The subconcious mind us an amazing and powerful thing. It registers and reacts to things our conscious mind doesn’t even see, hear, or smell. Who knows what the mind does in the 90 % we don’t really understand?

    • Hi Kallie
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’ve been under pressure with so many different condition to have to cope with. That must be very stressful and tiring.

      I think it seems like you kind of know what needs to happen in some ways – find a way to reduce the amount of energy you’re expending during the day, try to get better quality sleep and just in general find ways to relax and not be so tired all the time. How you do that though is of course the hard question to answer.

      But to me it sounds like you need some time out, some rest and recuperation, and perhaps some changes to the amount of work in your life. Do you think it’s possible to find ways to step down a gear for a while at least ad rest your body and mind a bit more?


  17. Kerry says:

    Hi Ethan

    I came across this article as I Googled ‘jolting awake’ after a particularly interesting night! Every single night, for the past 10 years I will have one (if not two or three!) of these jolts when I’m falling asleep. Some are a small jolt, but more often than not, it’s coupled with a dream that I’m falling, and I will awaken with a huge spasm; completely freaking my partner out in the process, might I add! I had an unusual experience a few nights ago, where this hypnic jerk occurred almost 8 times in a row, but each time, it was coupled with an incredibly loud noise, like a piercing scream, causing me to jolt awake, feeling anxious and panicked. I was diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD 3 years ago but have had the condition under control for some time now; I can only guess that this is related somehow. That being said, the jerks haven’t caused me any anxiety in the past and my partner and I have just laughed them off, however, the accompaniment of the noise is incredibly disconcerting, or it was, until you mentioned the ‘exploding head syndrome’ which seems to fit my experience. Thank you for this article; I can now go back to laughing at my strange sleep habits, instead of worrying that they are symptomatic of something more serious!!

    • Hi Kerry
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you hear you found the article helpful. It’s always nice to know that readers feel a little more at ease having found out more about what’s happening in their sleep. If it is EHS, which it could be, then I think that trying to take it in as light-hearted a way as possible is a good step, considering the somewhat lack of other things which can stop it. I guess you could also consider talking to someone about the anxiety and PTSD in relation to this if it continues or worsens. Even though you’ve had it under control, sometimes the road to recovery can have a few rocks in the way, and there’s no harm with getting a little help to clear them.

  18. Joana Mariano says:

    Hello everyone, i would like to know if there are any liable suggestions that could help me cure this hypnic jerks. The thing is..this only happens in days that i surfed. i go surfing in the morning, get out of sea after 2 hours ( i tried to reduce it to 2 hours because i thought i could get less tired, and sleep better). I don’t want to stop surfing, it one of the things i like the most in life. But i am unable to sleep because my body litteraly jumps by the moment i am falling asleep. <any ideas? i really don't know what to do. about the magnesium, i believe i have enough..one banana per day. sorry about my bad english.

    Kind regards


    • Hi Joana

      Thanks for your comment. I guess the best way to really find out if the tiredness from the surfing, or the effect it has on your body in some way, is contributing to the hypnic jerks would be to do a little test. Can you hold off from surfing for maybe a week, or a few days to see if it stops completely? Or perhaps are you able to split your surfing into 2 sessions during the day? That might allow you time to recuperate and not get so tired? I’m also wondering if maybe you could try doing some stretching exercises in the evening before bed – maybe some yoga, or just basic muscle stretching. That might help you to relax them before bed. And also consider taking some supplements as that one banana might not be enough, even with the rest of the food you eat.

  19. Tiffany says:

    Hi Ethan,
    I have to say thanks for helping me to understand the diagnosis that we received for my 15 months old daughter, yesterday.
    I thought she was having seizures, but she was not. It was frightening not knowing what was wrong with her.
    The doctors told me that there’s no regime or cure for this disorder & Maybe she will grow out of it. I’m wondering does stress really contribute to this; because a 15 month old child with Downs Syndrome is the less likely candidate to be stressed. Anyways, thanks for putting this worried mom at ease with VERY INFORMATIVE article.

    • Hi Tiffany
      Thanks for your comment, and for your kind words. I’m glad you found the article helpful – perhaps there’s something in the tips section which will help your daughter having been told by the doctor that there’s no specific cure. That’s the main reason I compiled the list of readers’ tips, as in the early days of the article being online I didn’t have that section, so it’s the result of about a year’s worth of comments from people. Some I imagine are more effective than others, such as making sure you have the right balance of vitamins and minerals in the diet. And many readers have since commented that a change in diet or supplements helped them too. Maybe it’s worth trying! And yes, I think stress can be a factor, and children and adolescents do definitely feel stress, though perhaps for different reasons and maybe more hidden than adults.

  20. Nick says:

    Hello, just thought I’d share my experience and see if anyone has any idea’s – it started as jerks just before sleeping – I’m 47 and never had anything like this before – so at first it was a strange sensation in the back of my brain that led to jerks in the head, arms or whole body just before sleeping. Then a week later I started having them while sitting down but not engaging in any activity – now after three weeks I’m getting “head shocks” standing up. If I concentrate hard on anything or am doing something physical, they don’t happen, but as soon as I relax, they come back again.

    I thought initially it was related to tiredness but my sleep pattern improved and the shocks didn’t stop. I have been taking high doses of magnesium which doesn’t seem to help. I’m concerned that whatever it is seems to be progressing and is therefore not ” just ” hypnagogic jerks or night tremors, but something more insidious. Would be good to know if others have experienced this apparent progression of jerks .


    • Hi Nick

      Thanks for your comment. My advice would be to get yourself checked out by a doctor just to make sure there’s nothing physical causing the daytime jerks, and to perhaps rule out other disorders like restless legs syndrome. Perhaps other readers will have some thoughts for you, but I think to get some clarity, you’re best off speaking to a medical professional.

  21. Lauren says:

    I’ve been experiencing interrupted sleep for several years. I have a son with autism and a daughter who I suspect has restless leg syndrome and who still wakes at least once a night. They sleep better now but I am still experiencing sleep deprivation and like many others lack of sleep leads to anxiety which leads to increased difficulty sleeping. I have no trouble falling asleep because I am usually exhausted by bedtime but I frequently wake – or get woken – after a couple of hours and then experience hypnic jerks the rest of the night when trying to get back to sleep. I get quite distressed wondering how much longer I have to cope on only a few hours broken sleep each night. I’m tired of making mistakes and being short-tempered with my kids because all I want to do is sleep. When I’m well I like to knit or read to relax but when I’m sleep deprived I can’t concentrate or see well enough to do those things. It’s all a vicious cycle. It is upsetting trying to explain to people why I am so tired all the time and why I can’t do stuff. I feel like they think I’m faking or being weak. It is really helpful therefore, to know that I’m not alone, that these sleep issues I experience have a name. I have the electric jolt, the auditory hallucinations, explosive head disorder, sleep paralysis. GPs only ever want to prescribe me anti-depressants which tend to make symptoms worse. It is helpful to know I’m not going mad and to have some things to try (definitely getting on the magnesium). Just want to say thank you to Ethan for this website and to everyone for sharing their stories.

    • Hi Lauren
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m very sorry to hear you’ve had such a terrible time with your sleep. I can understand why it must be so stressful, and all the things which come from being tired all the time. I’m glad you found the article useful, and hopefully some of the tips like the magnesium supplements will help you.
      I also quite often wake up in the night and have trouble sleeping again. I don’t know if you spotted the article about it on the website, but you might find it comforting. The info. in there helped me a lot to cope with it and stress less, which then made it happen less. Have a look at this article about sleep maintenance insomnia.
      Stay strong!

  22. Suzie says:

    Hi Ethan, hope you are well, it’s been a long while since I left a comment but my situation seems to have changed…for the good. After having hypnic jerks for more than 2 years they have stopped. A month ago I did a detox for 9 days, I drank 8 Litre’s of Pepsi Max a day! The detox involved no Pepsi just water, I lost weight, feel more alert and most importantly haven’t started Pepsi or any other fizzy drink. The last 2 weeks I noticed they stopped!! Is it possible the ingredients can effect ppl in this way? I was also diagnosed with meneires disease which I have medication to take to help with vertigo.


    • Hi Suzie
      I’m very well thanks for asking. Good to hear from you again, and it’s great to hear that things have improved for you! That’s fantastic.
      I think that the huge quantity of sugar and caffeine you were previously drinking as well as whatever else is in pepsi max probably was affecting you, yes. I guess you just need to resist the temptation to go back to your old habits.
      Well done and stay strong and healthy!

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