Hypnic Jerk – Jolted Awake When Falling Asleep

cartoon of a man having a hypnic jerkIf you’re unsure if you’ve ever experienced a hypnic jerk, 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 hypnic jerks. It can be confusing because it’s also sometimes referred to by 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 – this is the medical term to describe an involuntary muscle twitch.

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, during what’s known scientifically as the hypnagogic state of consciousness.

That’s why they’re sometimes call hypnagogic jerks: 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 various possible expressions to describe the same thing.

When you experience a hypnic jerk it often causes you to wake up suddenly. And when you wake up you may feel like you’re experiencing a sudden and dramatic falling or jolting sensation.

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

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

Polls

During 2015 I ran 3 polls for readers to share their experience of hypnic jerks. With thousands of people participating, the results provide an interesting look at how hypnic jerks affect people.

Poll 1

a graph showing the results of a poll about how frequently people experience hypnic jerksPoll 2

a graph showing the results of a poll about the impact hypnic jerks has on their sleepPoll 3

Poll 3 shows something very interesting: that many people feel stress or anxiety makes their hypnic jerks worse (7,437 out of 14,638 votes).

This is in fact something I’ve read many times in the hundreds of comments readers have left. So it seems that tackling stress or anxiety is definitely something worth considering trying to do if you’re struggling with hypnic jerks.

a graph showing the results of a poll about whether or not stress makes hypnic jerks worse

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 in the complex world of sleep, scientists still aren’t 100% certain about the cause. 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 some theories as to why they happen:

1. The first theory is that they happen as your nervous system relaxes and slows down when transitioning from wakefulness to sleep. Your breathing slows down, temperature drops and your muscles relax. So they might happen when nerves misfire during this slowing down process, resulting in the muscular spasm.

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.

3. Following from the second idea, a popular evolutionary theory suggests that the ancient primate brain may have mistaken relaxation for falling out of a tree, and so the jerking is the brain waking you up quickly to take action.

4. Another evolutionary theory suggest that your brain wakes you up one last time so you can check that you’ve take the necessary steps to keep yourself safe at night.

Is it another sleep disorder?

If you’re experiencing what you think are hypnic jerks, 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 need to 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:

  • 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’re 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 hypnic jerks when I’m cuddling my partner to fall asleep, but am not really in the most comfortable position.
  • If you suffer from anxiety or stress, this is an important issue to try and address. You may find some useful advice in the section about relaxation exercises for sleep and also the article about mindfulness exercises. These cover both practical short-term exercises and also 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.

Avoid the vicious cycle of worry

Hypnic jerks can become cyclical if you start worrying about them. This is a very common thing that happens with many 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 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 hypnic jerks aren’t 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 many 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.
  • Try to deal with major stress in your life – many people say they’re worse when they feel stressed.
  • If you suffer from anxiety, take steps to tackle this in your daily life as it may help reduce the hypnic jerks.
  • Drink cayenne pepper tea (I suggest doing some research into this online first).
  • Try to see the funny side! Many readers have said that 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’re doing strenuous exercise and see if it improves.
  • Don’t drink alcohol, coffee or energy drinks for a week 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 taking, 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 – a surprising amount 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.
  • In terms of prescription medication, some people say clonazepam has helped them (benzodiazepines are not a long-term solution though).
  • Film yourself sleeping or use a sleep monitor. 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 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 – 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.
  • 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.

Your views

There isn’t much research published about hypnic jerks, mainly because it’s 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.

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690 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I just go out of bed after trying since midnight to fall asleep. These “shocks” are annoying, but I am not worried about it. I get it every now and again and can’t seem to pinpoint why. This article is, by far, the most thorough one I’ve read on the subject. (I hate forums; a bunch of people talking about the problem and not the solution.) This piece has given me some ideas as to how to approach this problem. Very good article, thanks.

    • Hi Lii
      Thanks for your comment and your kind words. I’m very glad you found the article so helpful and that you have some new ideas to tackle the hypnic jerks. Hopefully they will help you get some peaceful sleep again.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’m 51 and have been struggling with some kind of sleep disorder since I was ten. I’ve had several sleep studies and the doctors are baffled. Just as I’m falling asleep I wake up gasping for air. Sometimes I scream help at the top of my lungs. Many times I wake up with my hand and arm feeling like pins and needles. I feel like I’m dying. Are these symptoms common with hypnic jerks? I’ve done some research and it sounds like another possibility could be nocturnal seizures which my sleep doctor highly doubts because nothing showed up on the EEG during my sleep studies but of course the gasping didn’t happen during the sleep study. I do have sleep apnea but this is something different. During my most recent sleep study, using my CPAP, it showed that the apnea is 100% controlled. I had a doctor mention hypnic jerks, sleep terrors and nocturnal panic attacks. Another one wants to look into laryngical spasms or a tic. None of these things seem to match most of the symptoms I have. I’m sick of feeling tired all the time and just want to know what it is.

    • Hi Cheryl
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’ve had such a terrible time sleeping and that the doctors haven’t yet managed to pinpoint the cause. What you describe doesn’t exactly sounds like hypnic jerks to be honest. But perhaps there could be an element of it mixing in with other things. I think the main thing is to keep working with your doctors. They are the real experts and eventually will hopefully be able to give you the answers and support you need – far more than I could in the comments here!
      It’s well known that sleep clinics often don’t bring out normal sleep patterns in people due to all the wires and the general clinical setting. It’s not the easiest thing to get around unfortunately. I’d say don’t give up hope that they’ll get to the bottom of it.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I started getting them after my 2 year old gave me a concussion. I thought it was head trauma since i didnt get an mri of my noggin. Then i thought it was my heart or my anxiety and last resort was an over active thyroid and kidney tumor… I did a whole lot of searching and worrying about this until one comment mentioned sleep starts. When i looked it up i seen how many people suffer from this as well i felt a little better knowing i wasnt going to die in my sleep. I decided to try an app its called Relax Meditation. It helps me relax and de-stress. Now i still get them and i can feel when an attack is about to happen i start to feel scared or on edge and it builds but as long as i ride it out, without over thinking it and put my relaxing sounds on, i usually only end up having one mild attack instead of all night. as far as medical i have a drs appointment thursday and he will tell me the results of blood work but so far i know my horomones have changed, and fingers crossed, hopefully when they resolve that these awful nights stop. But anyone looking to try it i highly recommend trying this app. its free for most of the sounds and three or four meditations. Relax Melodies.

    • Hi Renee
      Thanks for your comment. Wow, your 2 year old gave you a concussion! That must have been quite something!
      I’ glad you managed to find something which helps you sleep better. I think relaxation and meditation techniques are a very effective tool for dealing with many different sleep problems. Thanks for the idea of the App you like.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I get something like this where my heart starts pounding what appears like a few moments after falling asleep. I the start sweating and start the process all over again which can happen basically all night and appears I get no sleep and am literally physically exhausted. Sounds like I am doing a fair bit of worrying and that this may be partially cause of this insane cycle. It comes and goes and need to work on the techniques here. In a way doing a technique is sort of admitting you’ll have an issue and feeds into the worry cycle. Benzo’s kill this cycle but try not to use them to frequently.

    • Hi Tony
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you’ve been having a pretty awful time trying to sleep. I can understand what you mean about avoiding admitting there’s an issue. But it seems quite clear to me that you’ve already admitted to yourself that there’s an issue. So there’s absolutely no harm in trying things to improve it – after all, those things are there to help.
      I’m thinking from what you say that anxiety, stress, an over-active mind or whatever it may be is playing a big part here. My advice would be to try going down the nighttime relaxation techniques route, as well as trying some of the other techniques in the article. But I suspect from what you say that working on your anxiety levels at night may have a positive effect.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • This is an incredibly helpful post, thank you so much (and also your post on Exploding Head Syndrome, which I have started to experience recently too – I was really baffled by the symptoms until I read your piece). I tend to get hypnic jerks non-stop for several hours at a time, jerking awake as soon as I start to slide into sleep, generally after I’ve got up in the night to go to the toilet. It’s pretty frustrating, especially when interspersed with imaginary banging and shouting! I was getting worried that it was perhaps a sign of underlying heart/brain problems etc. but now I am reassured that it is just annoying and not dangerous! Thanks again.

    • Hi Sarah
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m really happy to hear you found the article helpful and reassuring. Sometimes it can make a big difference just to know what something really is. With a bit of luck you might find something here which also helps you cope with it.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’m 16 and I don’t experience this in my bed, as I am usually comfortable and warm.
    Sometimes I fall asleep on the bus either to or from college, however, and I often wake with a jolt caused by my body.
    A friend of mine told me that he read that jolts to wake you up are your brain’s way of making sure you aren’t dead, he said that occasionally your brain thinks that the slowing of the nervous system etc. confuses your brain into thinking that you are dying and sends a small signal to your muscles to make sure. I thought it was a little ridiculous if I’m honest, and just dismissed it.

    • Hi Tristan
      Thanks for your comment. Well, there are many people who believe that’s a possible explanation for hypnic jerks. My personal take on it though is that the brain is a pretty amazing thing, and so I just can’t believe that it’s not capable of telling if it’s dead or alive!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’m still 16 and for the past 3 weeks, I’m experiencing twitches coming out from nowhere. These twitches occur intermittently mainly from my left arm, legs and sometimes, feet. There are also nights when I can’t sleep because of these numerous jerks when I am about to fall asleep. It really keeps me up all night. I have health anxiety and I really worry a lot regarding about my health, maybe it’s because of the past experiences that I had when I was younger. Are these twitches and jerks causes by anxiety? I need your help older people. I wanted to become normal again :(.

    • Hi Carlo
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’ve been so concerned about the hypnic jerks. Anxiety can definitely make sleep harder to come by and exacerbate some sleep disorders. I think if it’s affecting your life due to a lack of sleep, then it might reassure you to speak to your doctor about it and get some advice. I would also try the tips in this article, which many readers have found helpful. I think perhaps it might help you to do some relaxation techniques before sleeping. You can do these either before going to bed or even in bed. Hopefully it might help keep you calm and sleep better.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • When It happens to me I’m imaging something harmful about to hit me so my body suddenly jerks or when I’m falling or which which could hurt me. What I’m imaging also feels extremely vivid. Is this a type of sleep paralysis?

  • I don’t mind when I get the muscle jerks ,sometimes they are really strong other times not very strong, ,but I know if it happens I will go to sleep, so I welcome them almost every night, now that I know that they are not dangerous I am not worried at all

    • Hi Carolyne
      Thanks for your comment. I’m the same as you – if I get hypnic jerks, I know sleep is just round the corner as long as I don’t let myself get stressed by them. It’s an important point to try to keep in mind.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I was a sleep tech some years ago and my patients & I often discussed this phenomenon. I once read that it was possible the brain was ‘thinking’ it was in the process of dying, so it suddenly needed to revive the body.
    I suffer from them and they are certainly not comforting. Mine are TERRIBLE. I nearly fly off of the bed, often screaming. It feels more like I’m being shot than simply jerking. They are so bad I sleep on the couch if they begin because this seems to lessen them. I feel stress is definitely part of it as mine get much more severe as the night goes on. I have felt them since I was a child along with exploding head syndrome. Sometimes this is loud bang, like a gunshot, sometimes it sounds like a man yelling very loud. I was pretty excited to learn that this was an actual ‘thing’. I actually prefer this to the jerking.
    I have done most of the more common suggested remedies (except the calcium and magnesium supplements together since 1 will deplete the other making things worse), little seems to help, I must tackle the stressors.
    Thank you for this informative article. Lots of great thoughts here.

    • Hi Sheri,
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found the article informative. It’s nice to know that from someone who has worked as a sleep tech! It sounds to me then like you already know what the best solution would be for you. If you’ve tried all the little tricks and nothing helped, perhaps it’s time to try to tackle the stressors fully and give yourself some TLC. It’s so easy, as I know myself, to be aware you need to tackle stress in life yet not actually get round to doing it. So my advice would be to put some thought into it and get started asap on bringing a little peace into your life.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I suffer from insomnia myself, but these jerks are my husband’s problem – however having said that it affects me too – the jerks make the bed and the duvet move, and it’s hard for me to drop off to sleep waiting for the next one!

    • Hi Maggie
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I can see how an insomniac and someone with hypnic jerks might have some difficulties getting to sleep! Perhaps you could mention this article to him and see if he’ll be willing to try some of the techniques mentioned.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’ve found the term for the apparent precognition dream aspect of a hypnic jerk:

    <> —https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream#Incorporation_of_reality

    This was my initial hypothesis which I became suspect of due to the perception I hadn’t actually lost consciousness—I wasn’t yet asleep. What gave me that impression? In such states of restfulness, someone would not have to yell my name, knock repeatedly or loudly at my door, or wait more than one phone ring to get my attention. It wouldn’t startle me anymore than if I were watching TV, chatting with someone, or reading a book. If that perception of being awake the whole time is simply an illusion, then I’m surprised I’m the only one describing it as such. If it gave me the perception of precognition, perhaps it’s given others the same perception just as the memory bias in dreams does.

    Thoughts from those who’ve also experienced such dreams culminating in hypnic jerks?

  • I thought I had RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) before coming across this term. But my interest in the topic is not about health, but about consciousness. How is it, I’ve asked myself, does my dream of tripping CULMINATE in the hypnic jerk? Is it an illusion? Of the 660 comments here, has anyone else brought this up?

    The same thing happens to me preceding a real sound. My dream seemingly ANTICIPATES the sound, incorporating it into my dream. Is it precognition or simply my mind rewriting history as in this recent Yale study:
    http://news.yale.edu/2016/05/02/you-may-have-already-decided-read-article

    A few weeks ago, I started a thread

    Waking up seconds before one’s alarm—attributable to circadian rhythm accuracy?

  • Hi
    My Name is Lee i am Nocturmal(sleep) epileptic. For the last 5 months i have found myself
    feeling very strange in the daytime!??
    This has been happening just once a month, me & my partner have been baffled my it.
    About a month ago i realised it seem to happen after i had been working late hours a few days in a row and so when putting my little daughter to bed i was that tired that i would start these ‘HYPNIC JERKS’ a combination of tiredly falling asleep but as a alert my brain won’t let me fall asleep as I’m with my little 3 yr old daughter.
    i know you said that these jerks are harmless but they seem to be affecting my epilepsy in a very different way.
    Thank you for showing me the name of these sleep jerks I’m having.
    Lee

    • Hi Lee
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found the article useful. It sounds to me like you may be suffering the effects of sleep deprivation and/or just exhaustion from your daily schedule. Whether there’s a link with the epilepsy or not I couldn’t say. But my advice would be to talk through these symptoms with your doctor, and also try your best to get a proper night’s sleep every night – if you can.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I gave birth to my wonderful daughter 9 months ago. The delivery plus several traumatic events around then lead to a severe case of PTSD. About 3 months after delivery, I came down with a case of insomnia. I couldn’t fall asleep bc of the jerks and then when I finally did fall asleep, it was just a half-sleep state and I would wake up several times during the night. For 3-4 months I would average 2-5 hours of sleep per night…sometimes 0 hours. After going through several doctors I finally found a team that helped me. This included a new OBGYN, psychiatrist and therapist. They put me on an anti-depressant, an anti-anxiety and 2 sleep aids: Belsomra and Trazadone. The Belsomra is very specific because it turns off the neurotransmitters that keep you awake and are firing away at night, due to being in fight of flight mode from the PTSD. The jerks will only go away if I take the Xanax and Magnesium. When stressful events occur (usually family events), they are worse. I also notice they get worse when I forget to take my plethora of vitamins and minerals. The therapy has helped ten fold with sorting out all of my stresses and confusions in my brain.

  • My hypnogogic jerks began after I was involved in a hot air balloon crash in 1997. It is a feeling as if falling. Not only do I jerk violently, but I call out loudly, and I am totally awake, unable to get back to sleep.

  • I thought I sent a comment out but can’t find it so I’ll try again. I have dealt with chronic insomnia most of my adult life.. I have learned a few things from your blog. Lately I have been having jerks that are almost violent and I had 4 or 5 last night and after I just lay awake and I am so sleep deprived. When I am going through a bout with insomnia I have terrible sweats, along with all the other aches and pains of laying in bed and just tossing and turning. I have taken tamazapan which helps occasionally. Will there ever be rest for the weary?

    • Hi Sharon
      Thanks for your comment. Sometimes it takes me a while to reply which is why readers may think the comment didn’t go through! I’m glad you’ve learned some things from the website, though it’s a shame nothing to have granted you the rest you need yet. Perhaps, however, you could try the readers’ suggestions to see if you can get on top of the hypnic jerks or at least reduce their effects a little.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I jerk awake when I fall asleep not normally too late but I also have a another problem that drives my family Insane because when they assume they’ve woken me up they haven’t, I open my eyes and talk to them while I’m asleep scares me a lot and I’m only 16 years old.

  • I always get these I will be falling asleep and then I fell like I am falling most of the time it is down stairs and right before I hit the floor my left arm and leg will lift up and I slightly jump and then a minute after I fall asleep but it only happens when I am sleeping on my right side it happens every night most of the time.

  • Hi, I started getting better with the help of these three types of treatment :
    1) accupuncture (with a good accupunturist);
    2) reiki (a japanese therapy)
    3) homeopathy.
    I found that meditation before sleeping also helps.

  • I recently have been quite tired due to the stress of upcoming GCSE examinations and when I started to drift asleep, I felt like someone hard hit me and my body jerked myself awake. My brother was there when I woke and thought I was having a seizure, even though I’m not epileptic. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with this but I but wanted some assurance on whether I should tell my parents.

    • Hi Katelyn
      Thanks for your comment. It could well be a hypnic jerk, which can be quite strong at times for some people. I think if you’re feeling really stressed out by the exams, then it’s good to talk to your parents about that. They might be able to help put your mind at ease, and also do some things with you to reduce the stress.
      Best of luck with the exams!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’m trying some therapies to fight these symptons, which I think are being very helpful: accupuncture (by a good accupuncturist); reiki (a japanese therapy) and homeopathy. These three combined will certainly cure you. Or you can choose two of these therapy, they will work as well, but may take longer to heal.

  • Well my experience with this phenomenon has been a bit stressful. As I have chronic shoulder pain due to a work injury, whenever I jerk I use my shoulders to prop myself up, causing more and more pain as I jerk multiple times teying to fall asleep, and leading me to literally not sleep once in a night. My doctor initially prescribed Trazadone to maybe get me out of the cycle. It worked for a night, then I would have to take more and more each night to get to sleep. I just gave up on it, I don’t want that much SRRI in my body.
    This was a little over a year ago.
    I have tried using some of the oxycodone I was prescribed when I got the injury, makes it worse. Tried cyclobenzaprine before bed. Didn’t touch it. Valerian root, Marijuana. (Legal in my state of WA) Nope.
    The ONLY thing, like literally that gets me to sleep is alcohol, and I hate it. I have to drink a few glasses of wine, or a few shots of alcohol before bed. I used to drink maybe once or twice a week max. Now I have to every night, or I will jerk within 5 minutes of going to bed. A few times I have tried to slowly stop drinking, but once I get down to only nothing before bed the hypnic jerks start up again.
    The only other thing my doctor is willing to prescribe is amytriptaline, and I DO NOT want a tri-cyclic in my body. Yet I would also not want to use benzodiazapines long term either. I have tried everything, no electronics before bed, diet, meditation, read before bed. Nope alcohol is the only thing that will allow me to sleep. I feel like if I did not have the shoulder injury it would not be a big deal at all, probably drift to sleep, but pain becomes an issue. While my shoulders are better than they were last year at least, it still hurts to jerk my arms 20 times in one night. I do have a feeling the stress from shoulder pain is an issue falling asleep as well, but that’s not something easily fixed unfortunately.
    Anyways that’s my experience. Thought I would give a little detail.

    Thanks for reading!

    Katy

  • I have had these since I was a child. It is always the same dream, I am stepping off a curb and think I am falling. Now that I am retired it takes me longer to go to sleep and they are less frequent, maybe once a month instead of every other night.

  • The explanations and comments have opened a window for me but my experiences happen during my waken hours for example ,After a good nights sleep and a light breakfast while reading a newspaper or my iPad I will almost take off literally i actually bounce off my seat arms akimbo newspaper flying through the air .Surely this is not quite the same as examples that have been described cheers Don

    • Hi Don
      Thanks for your comment. It would be the same, but only if you’re falling asleep just as it happens. But if you’re wide awake, then it wouldn’t be a hypnic jerks. It might be a muscular spasm of a similar nature, but I can’t help with that one I’m afraid. Perhaps check in with your doctor for some advice and see what they come up with.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have recently started to have these Jerks almost every night and even find myself having slight ones while awake.
    This is now causing me to worry thus causing me to have them more
    I find they are worse if I think about them or I am trying to not fall asleep.
    If I just give in to the sleep and go to bed early rather than sit up watching TV and nodding off I am.much better

  • Sorry! this turned into an essay more than a comment!
    I first noticed I was having hypnic jerks in my thirties ( I’m in my sixties now) but I had no idea what they were — there was no internet then! In my attempts to find out what the heck was happening I made them worse because I got more and more anxious. Hypochondriac that I was I had 8 medical books at the time but none informed me so I went to my GP. He sent me for heart tests, allergy tests and blood tests. It was the allergist who asked “what are you anxious about?” And I said “nothing! I am only anxious about why I am getting anxious!” (Which wasn’t really true–I had 5 kids and a lousy marriage) I wound up being prescribed a tranquilizer which put me into a clinical depression and thus began years of panic disorder, GAD diagnosis, and two nervous breakdowns but never did anyone define “hypnic jerks”. One day, a few years ago, I googled “jerking awake as you sleep” and was directed to Dr Andrew Weil’s website where I finally found out “they had a name”! I knew they must — I couldn’t be the only person who ever had them — but I had described them to several doctors and non had ever named them or explained them to me. Dr Weil also mentioned that most people experience them as a sensation of falling and I that gave me an epiphany. I did NOT experience them as a falling sensation at all. I experienced them as a DYING sensation. I would sometimes jerk right to a sitting position with the only thought in my head being “oh I’m DYING!” Or less dramatically I would still be lying down and think “hm…I’m dying”. But always dying. And I think that’s why I got so worked up about them thirty years ago. About ten years ago I had a terrible case of chronic insomnia and the hypnic jerks played a big role in it because every time I tried to sleep I was jerked awake and all the relaxation techniques and breathing exercises I’d learned by then didn’t work at all. I ended up in the hospital feeling suicidal. But I did get onto a proper medication then so that was good. I don’t know why I experience hypnic jerks with a “dying sensation” instead of a falling one but I joked with my friend that perhaps I fell to my death in a past life. I try not to let them bother me anymore and just say “oops, I must be over stressed” to myself but sometimes I still have trouble getting back to sleep after they’ve woken me.

  • I suffer various sleep problems ; Nocturnal epilepsy during adolescence. I think I was self medicating with phenergan for insomnia which I now think caused restless leg syndrome. Others have found the same. There does not appear to be a connection to hypnic jerks though but I have stopped taking phenergan.

    • Hi Julie i suffer from Nocturnal epilepsy too.
      About 5months ago i started having these Hypnic jerks which started my epilepsy behaving very unusual to normal. i get them when iv been working long hours & tiredly want to fall asleep but i know i can’t.
      Lee

  • Hi! I’m not sure if this is entirely relevant, but in my experience, exploding head syndrome leads to hypnic jerks, then hypnic jerks lead to what I THINK (but I’m not 100% sure because I’ve read up on it and my symptoms are slightly off from the standard ones) is sleep paralysis. It’s always gone this way, so I wonder if stress has something to do with it? When I’m woken up suddenly by an imaginary noise (which usually begins with auditory hallucinations), I know that I’m going to experience hypnic jerks so I start to panic. Then when I have hypnic jerks, I start to panic even more because I know sleep paralysis is coming. I’ve considered seeing a doctor about narcolepsy, since I have some other symptoms of that, but when everything seems so stress induced, I’m not entirely sure if there’s a medical explanation? This had only happened once before I started taking Risperdal, multiple times a week while I was on Risperdal, and now that I’ve been off of it for about 2 years, it happens maybe once or twice a month. I can’t really describe the feeling of the hypnic jerks as anything other than what I would imagine a heart attack or seizure to feel like, but as I’ve never experienced either, I can’t say for sure.

    • Hi Claire
      Thanks for your comment. I think for some people there’s definitely some kind of relationship between the sleep disorders you mention, at least the EHS and hypnic jerks anyway it seems from reading comments. As for the risperdal, many previous readers have also noted that they’ve found a medication makes their sleep problems worse. And I think if you feel it would provide you with some reassurance, there’s no harm In my opinion, visiting your doctor to get checked out.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have these episides only when I fall asleep while reading. I am always in a seated position, such as on the couch or recliner. I describe it as being ” slammed awake”. Very scary- often feels like I am anticipating danger. Never happend when falling asleep in bed ( prone).

    • Hi Laura
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, it can be a bit disconcerting for sure. It’s interesting you only have it when seated. I wonder if it’s the position or the reading. So you have it when reading in bed?
      Regards
      Ethan

  • This happens to me a few times a night. But, the problem is, I don’t remember them. I end up driving my wife crazy and I’m apparently in such a deep sleep that I don’t even know what I’ve done. Full conversations, no recollection. Other times I startle awake feeling like I’m having some sort of heart trouble. If I could get to the root of this, it would be amazing.

    • Hi Larry
      Thanks for your comment. Does your wife ever notice any other symptoms like breathing difficulty or stopping breathing briefly before startling awake? If so, I’d get yiurself checked for apnea. And the conversations are likely to be sleep talking episodes. But if it is just hypnic jerks, try out some of the ideas in the article and see if they help.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have very lucid dreams that resemble a movie script….often there is a moment where I am jolted awake by an incident that is threatening or alarming. Why are my dreams so vivid and cause me to wake up suddenly.

    • Hi Tom
      Thanks for your comment. It’s actually very common to have vivid dreams – the thing is whether you wake up and remember them or not. It may be that your dreams are, or are bordering, on being nightmares which is why you jolt awake. Have a look at this article about nightmares and maybe you’ll find something which could help.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’ve had this for about a month now. Every night. 3-4 times. I’m so tired. Just want to sleep. Eventually I do fall asleep. This started after I suffered a back injury and I was ok some medicines. I stopped the medicines and it went away but then came back. I have started the magnesium but so far it doesn’t seem to help. The first 3 nights I took magnesium I didn’t have this problem. I thought great. I’m fixed. But now they happening again. I’m definitely someone with a lot of stress snd anxiety. And this disorder only makes it works. It’s awful. I don’t know why it’s happening it how to fix it but I can’t go on like this with lack of sleep it’s terrible.

    • Hi Lynne
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear this is stressing you out so much. I’d say to keep up with the magnesium, you never know as it might still be helping, just with a bit of ‘one 2 steps forwards, one step back’. I’d also try some of the other tips if you can, and perhaps look at doing some of the relaxation techniques I talk about in this article.
      And if it’s really getting to the point where it’s impacting negatively on your life and well-being, then I’d recommend speaking to your doctor about it. Hopefully they can provide some solutions and some reassurance.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Valerian root (500mg) along with mulungu tea has been a great help in containing these jerks. Some nights this is the only thing that makes me sleep. Sometimes I also take melatonin, but that alone will not stop the sleep starts.
    Another step I’ve been taking to get better is acupuncture. I believe in time it will heal me.

    • Hi Ariane
      Thanks for your comment. That’s an interesting suggestions about the tea. I wonder if any other readers have found that a herbal tea has helped calm the hypnic jerks? And let’s hope the acupuncture does help.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have these on an almost nightly basis. I suffer with chronic pain and epilepsy. When my day ends I’m exhausted regularly. I will be discussing this with my neurologist the 28th.

    • Hi Nicole
      Thanks for your comment. Hopefully your neurologist will be able to provide some good advice for you. I do recommend trying out the tips as well and see if they help.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I think I have been misdiagnosed. I was told I have restless leg syndrome and I take a pill for that but if I forget to take the pill as soon as I’m ready to fall asleep I have this violent jerking sensation and it will go on all night long until I take this pill for restless leg syndrome after two hours it subsides and then I can fall asleep. I do not have any problem at all during the day only one trying to policy. And just at that moment when I’m going to follow sleep it starts.

    • Hi George
      Thanks for your comment. I know it can be confusing sometimes differentiating between some sleep disorders. I would recommend asking for a second opinion with a different doctor if you’re not totally confident with the diagnosis.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Sometimes I wake up and my whole body is litterally bouncing up in the air, just like a ball bounces. I also experience a lot of pain all over. I have had a level four fusion in my cervical spine another neck surgery and a back surgery. I have spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. Could all of this be my problem?

    • Hi James
      Thanks for your comment. I think that some surgeries and medical conditions can lead to symptoms such as this, yes, or perhaps impact on an existing natural sleep experience. But considering the complexity or your medical history, I would suggest speaking to your doctor about it and seeing if they think there is a relationship, or if it’s independently occurring. And in the meantime, you could try some of the tips in the article to see if it helps alleviate the hypnic jerks.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Harshada; I have had the same symptoms as yours for over a year in addition to other symptoms, including chronic insomnia, restless sleep, and restless legs. I finally got a sleep study just recently and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I am not overweight at all and never woke up gasping for air, so doctors never referred me to a sleep clinic. I was told by my spouse that I snore off and on. Everybody’s symptoms can vary. Only an overnite sleep study can identify if your symptoms are caused by a breathing disorder such as sleep apnea. My sleep doctor told me the apnea (from tongue obtructing my airway) was causing the jerking awake, restless legs, and abnormal sleep cycles. Right now I am trying positional sleep therapy to keep me from moving to the supine position while asleep. I will probably also try the c-pap machine so I can sleep in any position I prefer. I’m still taking a light dose of clonazopam which I’m trying to taper off of completely.

    • Hi Sylvia
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sure the other readers will appreciate hearing your story. I hope that your therapy works and that you manage to sleep peacefully again.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Hi Rich
      Thanks for your comment. That’s not ideal at all – have you thought about wearing a nocturnal mouth guard until you can deal with them? Try some of the tips and see if they help, but do think about ways to prevent an injury until you manage to find a way to reduce them if possible.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi Marcelo
    Thank you for your comment – obrigado! And actually your English is very good.
    Sorry to hear about your loss. I know it can be incredibly painful and difficult to cope with, and can easily lead to problems with sleep.
    It’s good that you’ve managed to find something which helps you sleep better. With the gym work, have you tried only going to the gym in the morning or lunchtime? You might find you sleep better if you go early in the day. And if not, maybe try to do the heavy weights less days in a row. Give yourself rest days or aerobic days in between each heavy day. That might also help.
    Regards
    Ethan

  • I started having such jerks two months ago. I consulted a doctor he gave me some medicine due to which I started sleeping normally. But it has started again.whenever I start feeling sleepy , after some seconds I experience sudden jolt and I wake up . Then I feel difficult to sleep again. Is it sleep apnea.I don’t smore. I don’t consume alcohol. And I don’t sleep during day. Please help.

    • Hi Harshada
      Thanks for your comment. It’s not possible for me to say if it’s sleep apnea. You would need a doctor’s diagnosis for that I’m afraid. The alternative is to try out a sleep monitor and see if it provides any clues about your nightly sleep. I would also try some of the tips in the article and see it that helps resolve it naturally.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • My situation is so bad, I’ll jerk up as I’m falling asleep throwing my arms out violently. I might have that head syndrome problem to. I swear I hear loud bangs and myself talking. No way could I share a bed now because I would end up punching or kicking someone. I do believe it has to do with stress because I’m in bad financial shape. I also have bad dreams that someone’s in my room or people are trying to hurt me but I can’t even throw a punch in my dreams. Funny because I’ve been familiar with boxing and basic martial arts for years. Well it’s 7:26 am and haven’t slept yet. Wish me luck.

    • Hi Doug
      Thanks for your comment and I hope you managed to get some sleep in the end that night. Try out some of the tips in the article and see if that helps. There are lots of good ideas which will get you back to feeling like you can share your bed.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Thanks a lot for this information Ethan. Its really helpful. I have been experiencing these for last six months and get really anxious and panicky when they happen.I talked to so many doctors about it and could not really verbalize the experience. But after reading your article, I feel more relaxed about it now. Hopefully I will be able to manage it better now.

    • Hi Renu
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m very pleased you found the article helpful. Let’s hope some of the tips here do help you to cope better with it.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’m writing this on behalf of my husband. He falls asleep fine but for the past week after falling asleep after about 10-20 mins he wakes up with a groan and that’s it then the cycle of it happens all through the night…sleep, groan wake up . Last night he had 2 hours sleep..is this some form of Hypnic jerk?

    • Hi Lisa
      Thanks for your comment. I doubt it is, no. Is the groaning very long and with a strange sound (maybe catathrenia or snoring)? Or does he sounds like he’s gasping for air before he wakes up? If you suspect he has any breathing difficulties, it’s good to get checked out by a doctor for disorders such as apnea.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Ive had the sudden jerks while trying to fall asleep since 2013. Seems to be getting worse, just about every night they occur while drifting off, or even if try to nap during the day. Any help would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Levi
      Thanks for your comment. I’d recommend trying out some of the ideas in the reader’s tips section of the article, particularly the magnesium idea which many readers have said helped.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • This only happens when I try to sleep on an airplane – but happens every flight. I have tried different postures, positions – but always occurs. I never get this sleeping in my bed, couch, or chair at home. It is very bothersome – makes me think I have a bad case of apnea, never mind how embarrassing it is. I have some long trips coming up where I will have to sleep – quite worried I wont be able to.

    • Hi Larry
      Thanks for your comment. Have you spoken to a doctor about your concerns? If you have suspicions you may have apnea, it’s a good idea to get checked out for it.
      Is it not possible to book flights which leave early morning so you don’t have to sleep on the plane? That’s what I do these days because I know I just can’t sleep and it always leaves me feeling exhausted when I arrive.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I always experience this when I’m really tired if I haven’t slept the night before as I work nights. sometimes will the falling feeling sometimes without but always feeling like I’m holding on sooo maybe the body does think it’s falling we are a very complex machine the human body

    • Hi Janine
      Thanks for your comment. I think that tiredness and sleep deprivation are very often associated with increased hypnic jerks, especially considering how many other readers have said the same. You’re absolutely right in that the human body is an amazingly complex thing!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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 .

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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
    Benjamin

    • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.
    Thanks
    Kev

    • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

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

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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?
    K~

    • 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?

      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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

    Joana

    • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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.
    THANKS FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART

    • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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 .

    Cheers
    Nick

    • 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.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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!
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Lauren; I hope you see this. Many of your symptoms I’ve had two over the past 3.5 yrs. Finally after seeing several doctors who ran me through (what I thought) were irrelevant tests and then prescribed sleeping or anti-anxiety drugs, etc., an NP in a neurology clinic sent me to a sleep clinic. There I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and am now trying c-pap therapy. It will take time to heal but I can tell you already that the second night on c-pap went better than the first. Magnesium didn’t help me at all.

  • 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.

    Suzie

    • 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!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hello, I am back again as I am in desperation to figure out what the heck is going on with me. I wrote a few months ago about how my hypnic jerks were caused by a prescription of Clonazepam. I am now 2 1/2 months off of Clonazepam and my life has been a living hell since. I have seen numerous doctors since, including a neurologist and psychologist. I have even done 4 sessions of neurofeedback as I am so desperate for a cure. I am set up for a sleep study this week, but feel as though I will likely not get any clear answers as this symptom seems to be a mystery to the professionals. So, I am here to see if ANYONE has ever experienced symptoms as bad as mine. I literally cannot sleep without medication. I do not want to go back on Clonazepam since it started this whole mess, so I have tried Mirtazipine, Trazodone and Seroquel. The only one that allows me any sleep is Seroquel. Unfortunately, I only get a few scattered hours with it and my breathing is labored and my pulse goes up to 120 when I’m on it. I know that Benzodiazepine (clonazepam) withdrawals are known to cause lingering/terrible symptoms, but I’m pretty sure I qualify as the worst case. It seems that most people who have hypnic jerks are able to eventually fall asleep. I cannot. I have gone so many days with zero sleep, including my longest stretch of 4 days in a row. Literally, every time I begin to doze off, I am woken with a big jerk (no part of my body has not jerked), a muscle spasm, a tic, or a sensation or loud noise in my head (exploding head syndrome). The jerks are the most frequent of the sensations. The longer I go without sleep, the worse they are. I have even had jerks that feel like a seizure. They make my body shake for about 3 seconds and I get a jolt of “electricity.” The only way to stop these is by taking a heavy duty med that I’m sure will not help the healing of my brain. I feel very doomed with this condition as it seems my only way out is to keep taking the meds that got me in this mess. I built a tolerance to Clonazepam really fast so I know that going back on will only allow me very few months or years to live more “normally” before they completely poop out and stop working. They have destroyed my life so I’m not sure that going back on is even an option. Holy cow, I am a mess. If there is anyone out there that has dealt with jerks as bad as mine, PLEASE write back. I am desperate to know as I feel so alone with this problem. I need my sleep back!! My family needs me and I so desperately want to live. I’ve lost 20 pounds on my already thin body, half my hair, my face looks terrible, and I’m so weak and tired. What a nightmare.

    • Hi Jessica
      I’m sorry to hear that things have been getting worse for you. I know you’ve addressed your comment to readers in general, so hopefully you’ll get a response. What I would say though is don’t be too pessimistic about the sleep study. You’ll be seeing sleep professionals, and hopefully they’ll be able to get to the bottom of what’s going on for you and help you work on improving it.
      Stay strong!
      Ethan

      • Hi Jessica; I’m sorry you’re going through all this, especially when you have a family to take care of. For 3 yrs now I have been experiencing a wide variety of strange symptoms coming from every which way, the worst one being ongoing fragmented sleep and insomnia. I never know how much sleep I will get from nite to nite.
        I have been through a variety of medical specialists and testing and the only real relief I’ve gotten is a neurologist prescribing clonazopam. Right now I take small doses of clonazopam BUT NOT every nite. Also, I remember when I was treated for a specific bacterial infection (with antibiotic) 2 yrs ago, I got MUCH relief with normal sleep most of the time for the following 2 mos., then it was back to the insomnia. Over a year ago, I started getting the repetitive jerking awake, just as I was starting to drop off and then the snapping noise inside my head which sometimes was right in unison with the jerks. I suggest that you stop wasting time and money on conventional doctors and look for a functional medicine doctor, naturopath, holistic doctor. Try to get a recommendation for a good one. Usually the title is DO rather than MD. I finally found a board certified MD who is also a GYN and naturopath doctor. She thinks outside the box and treats with diet and supplements, along with conventional medicine. I am currently on a restricted diet for candida overgrowth, it has to do with gut bacteria imbalance. She’s also prescribed antifungals (to treat repetitive yeast infection) and I’m now on a round of antibiotics. BUT NEVER TAKE ANTIBIOTICS WITHOUT TAKING A GOOD QUALITY PROBIOTIC ALONG WITH IT! Candida overgrowth takes much time and effort to overcome, but IF THIS IS IN FACT THE ROOT OF YOUR SYMPTOMS, you need to make as much effort as you can to get rid of the overgrowth, as it eats into your minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and ferriton (stored iron). Losing these minerals can affect any system in your body, such as neurology, digestion, sinus, etc. Search the internet and you will find tons of sites on “candida overgrowth”, some are online naturopath doctors and others trying to sell their cleansing products. (I won’t buy the products). My diet is very strict; low carbs, as little sugar as possible, no yeast, or gluten. I eat lots of green leafy vegetables, (this feeds good bacteria), meat, fish, eggs, olives, avocados, nuts and seeds, and few starchy vegetables. That’s about it. Learn more on the websites to see how many people end up with this, it evolves from an ongoing high carb diet with too much processed food.

        I took advice awhile back from some posters on this site who said to make a fresh lemon “tea” and sprinkle with cayenne pepper. They also recommended taking 1 to 3 tsp a day of coconut oil, must be the pure oil from a health store (more expensive). I put together from my own research that these specific foods will help kill candida. I tried it myself (along with restricting my diet) and sure enough, the the jerking and head noise subsided (but did not go away completely). It might take several days to start helping you. I also eat natural antibiotics such as raw garlic and onion. Hope this eventually helps you. (And me too!). Diet is very important for getting rid of this condition. Don’t expect a fast recovery.

  • I have had this for a long time and it has come and gone over the years but I have noticed as I get older it is more persistent. When it is really bad I take sleeping pills. I also at the same time hear a voice just before I nod off like my name being called which is stressful! There needs to be much more research into this as it adds to anxiety and depression which is no help.

    • Hi Brent
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand the stress it causes, especially when you have auditory hallucinations too. I imagine that at some point, sleep researchers will be able to provide a more definitive explanation and solution for people. For now though, try some of the techniques in the article and see if they help.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • One more note; My prescribed diet also allows beans, nut butters (except peanut butter), black olives, lemons and limes and sour green apple. You will find a wide variety of candida diets and allowed food lists on the internet.

      • Sorry Brent, this comment was meant for Jessica (above). But maybe you would benefit from the diet too. For me it often tries my patience because I miss my carbs and chocolate.

  • This website has been invaluable to me. After reading about hypnic jerks on various sites, I discovered this site. Once I came to realize that they do not indicate something serious, besides the massive sleep deprivation they were causing me,I was able to read through all the suggestions here. I knew mine were caused by some acute anxiety I was experiencing, and two suggestions on this site helped me tremendously. Laugh them off, believe it or not, and realize that it means my body is about to fall asleep. I am so incredibly grateful for this well written site, maintained by someone who obviously cares. Thank you, Ethan!

    • Hi Stefanie

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment and kind words. It’s moments like this, reading a comment like yours, that make the hours sat in front of my computer all worthwhile.

      I’m really pleased you found the article helpful, and that you found some helpful suggestions. And I agree that laughing them off whilst recognizing them as a sign of (hopefully) impending sleep is one of the best things you can do.

      Thanks again,
      Ethan

  • Hi, I have recently started suffering with these jerking sensations, but last night was the worst so far. Every time I started to nod off my arm/leg even my head would jerk me awake. I also had a feeling of what I can only describe as being like a head rush too. It was very unsettling. I also get times when I get a sharp, albeit brief, pain in my tongue. This is also just when nodding off, but doesn’t necessarily go together with the body jerks – although I experienced it twice last night. Needless to say I didn’t get to sleep until way past 3am and thankfully found this website!

    • Hi Lisa

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found the site useful. It sounds like it could be hypnic jerks you’re experiencing. The sore tongue could be due to all kinds of things. Perhaps give it a couple of days and see if it continues. If it does then your doctor might be able to shed some light on it, perhaps even your dentist.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have these whole body jerks every time I try to fall asleep (nap or regular night sleep). I have learned to expect them either time.
    My problem is that I have the limb jerks all through the day. These can come at any time and unexpected. I have to be very careful especially when I have something in my hands. I am known to drop and spill things while in the kitchen. I am rarely allowed (by my friends and family) to put or remove
    Items in the oven or to carry anything that can be broken or spilled because of these jerks. I also have numerous leg jerks during the day, even while sitting.
    My doctor has told me this is normal and that most people have these jerks.
    Should I be worried or continue to accept them as normal?

    • Hi Donna

      Thanks for your comment. I’d say that having hypnic jerks while going to sleep is definitely normal. But having limb jerks during the day so often, and to the point where it’s hazardous, is definitely not what would be considered normal. I’d get a second opinion if I were you. There’s no harm in speaking to a second doctor to see if they agree.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have had clonus for years, I get it when I’m working with involuntary clicks of the mouse, or jerks of the legs, I get it when I’m going to work on the train, both arms and legs, and I get full body hypnic jerks regularly when trying to sleep. I have taken magnesium supplements but they have not made any difference. The biggest issue is when I fly for long distances (I live in Australia, everywhere is a long flight) and I cannot sleep for the entire flight, which may be up to 21 hours, as I will have clonus or hypnic jerks as soon as I try to relax in a sitting position. Has anyone else had this issue?

  • I get hypnic jerks up to 25 times a night or early a.m. I have sleep apnea and use the c-pap machine. Also have restless leg syndrome and take medication for that. Some jerks are so severe they lift me almost off the bed. They happen whether I sleep on my back or side. I think I am going to try the magnesium capsules and see what happens. I have trouble sleeping and this jerking isn’t helping things. But at lease I found out its not life threatening.

    • Hi Don
      Thanks for your comment. That’s a lot of different sleep problems you have going on there. It must be difficult to cope with it all. I hope the magnesium helps – if you have a moment in the future, please do pop back and let me know.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • I experience the same. Every time I begin to drift off… my mind switches on like it is in overload. BAM! Again and again all night long. If my mind doesn’t suddenly jolt awake my arm usually just jerks up involuntarily. This can be pretty embarrassing on a plane.
      I steer clear of sleeping pills but have found I can fight them off when I take them (as much as I’d like them to knock me out).
      I’ve also found I get exploding head syndrome but it doesn’t occur as regularly- a brief but very unpleasant experience.
      I wake up in the morning and my gums feel numb from lack of sleep. I fantasize about pushing two thin metal rods in the place where my inner eyeball meets the bridge of my nose… there seems to be so much pressure there.
      I also sleep talk, loudly, and regularly curse at no one in particular when I sleep.
      This all started a few years ago after a bad friendship/ relationship falling out which I never really got over. This and lack of sleep are clearly related.

  • hi. I have experienced these jerks for many years. A bit annoying but no real problem, and they don’t frighten me. Recent years I have been on selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors. Number of jerks increased hugely at first. But still not worried having chatted with my GP about it. Now have settled down to pretty much baseline level. So I’m fine with that.

  • Thanks for all this information. I was loathed to look on the internet for answers (after previous scary self-diagnosis !) but after a very restless night of continually jerking awake until 3.30am I gave in ! I am not on any medication at all and mine started alongside having gallbladder problems (which I have now had removed). I also get the feeling that my body in on over-drive which is hard to describe and feels like a mechanism whirring away too fast with too much adrenaline or something. Can still feel the after affects even now I am awake. At first I worried that it was something bad and was going to have a heart attack etc which led to panic attacks but have managed to keep myself a bit calmer about it. I definitely feel that they are worse around ovulation time and if I have over eaten that day. I am also wondering if the combined problems could be linked to a sensitive stomach or allergic reaction or food intolerance ? I am definitely going to try the magnesium to see if that helps.

    • Hi Kathryn,
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found the article helpful. Self-diagnosis is obviously fraught with potential problems, which is why I regularly advise people to speak to their doctor! And so on that note, I think a doctor is also probably the best person to advise you about whether your stomach problems could be linked to the hypnic jerks.
      Good luck with the magnesium. It seems to have helped many readers, so you might have some luck with that.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I’ve started getting the hypnic jerk tonight. Ive recently been cutting down on my anxiety medicine so I can hopefully taper off of it. I was on 20mg of Citalopram and had started taking them every other night around three weeks ago. A couple nights ago I cut down my dosage further to 10mg every other night and tonight the hypnic jerks have started. I tried going off of this medicine last year and this same thing happened. I started to even get the hypnic jerk during the day when I was awake; it was as if I would just suddenly stop breathing for no reason. Could it just be a side-effect of going off of my anxiety medicine? It’s super frustrating! I really would like to be off of this medication, but these side effects are hard to deal with! I also suffer from asthma, so these hypnic jerks making me feel like I stop breathing suddenly freaks me out even more. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it! I’ve been on anxiety medication for over two years now, and I am so ready to be off of it!

    • Hi Jessica,
      Thank for your comment, and sorry to hear you’ve been having a difficult time coming off the meds. But well done for going through with it. I think the best thing is to talk to your doctor about this. Assuming they’re helping you with tapering off, they would probably want to know this is happening to you during this period of time.
      All the best
      Ethan

  • Hi. This has been fascinating to read. I hadn’t realized that this was such a common problem, to be honest. I’m a 51 year old guy and have always been something of a ‘night owl’, so that means I’m also something of an insomniac. No matter how much I want or need to go directly to sleep, it usually takes 1 to 2 hours before I actually drop off.

    In regards to the jerks that occur as I’m staying to fall asleep, those were fairly rare and never a real issue, until I was diagnosed with polyneuropathy and put on Gabapentin, in 2010. Since then, having some part of my body violently jerk as I’m starting to fall asleep has become almost a nightly event. The same is true for the symptom that prompted my web search into this subject… The brain pulse that feels like my brain ‘short-circuited’, complete with the sensation of a loud ‘zap’ sound. When that occurs, whatever I was thinking about at that moment is completely blanked out and it takes me a few minutes to remember what I was thinking about. My brain has the unfortunate tendency to wake up when my head hits the pillow, which is part of the reason why I have trouble going to sleep to begin with. So, I fantasize or think about things to help me to help me nod off (no, not those kind of fantasies, you pervs). Maybe that confuses my brain… I’m thinking about something and falling asleep, so the brain ‘jumps’ and startles me back to wakefulness.

    Anyway, as I said, this has become very common place since I started taking gabapentin from my neuropathy pain. So, my question becomes, “Did gabapentin cause my Myoclonus-like symptoms or simply exacerbate an existing condition?! Given that I’ve been an unemployed Electronics Engineer for the better part of two years and have other stresses on top of that, stress/ anxiety could definitely be a major contributor. Having a foot, leg, or arm suddenly jerk is one thing, but when your torso or back does it… That’s just as disconcerting as the brain ‘jumps’.

    • Hi Scott,
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t know the answer to your question to be honest. But I think the fact that the spasms started around the time you started on the meds warrants a conversation with your doctor about it, just to make sure eveything is ok and that you’re not reacting badly to the meds.
      Also, in terms of the stress and anxiety problem at night, I highly recommend taking a look at the article I wrote about mindfulness techniques. You might find it helps you keep your brain a little quieter.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have had relentless hypnic jerking/spasms every single night since April. I remember visiting this website many times over searching for clues as to why I was getting them. Since I did not find my answer here, I thought I would revisit in case my story gives even just one person an idea of what is causing theirs. My story starts with a prescription of Clonazepam. My first prescription came last September when my daughter was 2 months old. I had a bad spell when both of my daughters were both very sick and I was sucking boogers around the clock for a week. I took the Clonazepam (along with Trazedone, alternating days) for about 6 weeks and stopped. My normal sleep returned. Then, on February 16th, I went back to my doctor looking for help again as I was now having some minor issues dealing with my husband snoring, a baby that was still waking up at night, and my parents who had temporarily moved in and were staying up late and making noise. All of my 34 years I was a good sleeper, getting 8-10 hours of solid sleep most nights. Now that I was getting only 6-7 hours each night caused a little concern because I was always told that 8 hours was beneficial for health. Never would have I guessed that getting a prescription sleep aid was going to be the worst decision of my life. I took the new pills as needed (alternating with Trazedone again), which ended up being nearly every single night due to noise. Stupid me. And stupid doctor for not warning me of the possible side effects. I first noticed something was wrong when a month passed and suddenly I was sleeping less, even on nights that I took something. Then, within a week of this happening, I suddenly became hypersensitive to noise. I started sleeping in a separate bedroom; yet, I was startled by even the slightest little creak in the house. I went my first night with zero sleep. I was exhausted and didn’t know what to do other than see my doctor again. She told that I had postpartum anxiety. What? How could that be? My daughter was already 8 month old and I was very happy and loving motherhood. I had never had anxiety in my life. It just didn’t make sense. But I listened to her and followed her advise when she told me to try Doxi-Pen (another sleeping pill). I went home, stopped the Clonazepam and Trazedone, and took the new med every night for 4 nights. By the 3rd night, my anxious sleep turned into full blown jerks and jolts that would wake me every single time I dozed off. Back to the doctor again after the 4th night off Clonazepam (not knowing what I was experiencing was withdrawals) and I was told that I had sleep myoclonus which according to my doctor was likely the result of a lack of sleep. Of course I believed that because my sleep was getting worse and worse. Guess what though? Her only treatment for it was more clonazepam. She said I would be good as new after getting a week’s worth of rest. A week passed and I had slept great. I was now taking .5mg a night. Suddenly after that first week, I noticed the twitching was back and I was needing more clonazepam to sleep. Something was not right so I went back to the doctor. Now I was led to believe I had a possible neurological disorder among other things. I had several blood tests, an EEG, EKG, MRI and echocardiogram. Everything was normal. My sanity was slipping and I was severely depressed. Each night allowed me about 4 hours of sleep if I was lucky. The twitching was relentless. After several doctor visits, including a visit to the ER and 2 sessions with a naturopathic, I decided to take my health in my own hands. Could the Clonazepam be doing this?? I scoured the internet searching for clues and came across benzobuddies.org. OMG, my answer was staring at me through the stories of countless benzo users who had suffered the same thing. You see, I began getting symptoms when my body was no longer responding to the dose of meds, and also because I was skipping nights (inter-dose withdrawals). The nights I had skipped clonazepam and took Trazedone, I slept the worst (I started a sleep diary on March 8th, so I know). Then, when I went off of it completely for those 4 days, the twitching started. That was the day that I started tapering myself off of 1mg of clonazepam, each night. It took me 2 long months to get down to .125mg of clonazepam, suffering terribly after each dosage reduction. I am now 11 days off of clonazepam. Two nights ago was really rough. I did not sleep for even a minute. I’ve had to dope myself with a lesser evil (Seroquel) just to snag a few hours of sleep on the other nights. I have had many other symptoms through my withdrawal which I won’t discuss since this is a thread on hypnotic jerking. And you know what’s funny? My doctor didn’t seem convinced when I told her that Clonazepam was doing this to me. Doctors do not understand how awful these drugs can be. Sure, they have their place for those who desperately need them, but they are overprescribed and patients do not get the counseling that they need BEFORE taking them. I should have been warned. But, here I am, warning all of you since most doctors won’t. And also beware that other medications are known to do this, including antibiotics (rarely).

    • I want to add one more thing so that people will understand why this happens during drug withdrawals. Benzo drugs work on your GABA receptors. GABA is the calming neurotransmitter (without it, we would be unable to sleep, among other things). It also has an indirect effect on other receptors (dopamine and serotonin included). When you take away the drug, all hell breaks loose because your transmitters are confused and misfiring. Brains are a delicate thing, and shouldn’t be messed with, in my opinion. It takes time for them to find their equilibrium again, so I will not be surprised if I continue to twitch for several more weeks. If you have never taken a drug and are having these symptoms, it still might be useful for you to understand this as you could be experiencing anxiety and that is what’s causing the twitching. How do you fix the anxiety? Not with drugs! Your Gaba receptors are already out of whack, you don’t want to screw with them more! It will only make it worse in the long-run. You will probably need to look into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or something along those lines. Good diet, exercise, and meditation… not medication (that’s my two cents).

      • Hi Jessica,

        Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to explain your story in such detail. I’m sorry to hear you underwent such a horrible time, it must have been very stressful and difficult or you. You’re right in that medication can cause all kinds of physical problems, spasms included. However, that doesn’t mean it’s an explanation for hypnic jerks. Hypnic jerks are not the same as the spasms which can occur due to benzo withdrawal for example.

        That said, it’s still useful for readers who are also confused about why they might be experiencing the symptoms that they are. Perhaps there are other people out there who have a similar story. And as you say, if it just helps one person, it’s useful.

        I do agree that self-help and natural techniques as described by good sleep hygiene are preferable to medication for sleep problems most of the time. And if that doesn’t help, then perhaps consider taking sleeping pills. For many people though, sleeping pills are very effective in the short-term and they don’t have the same problems as you did.

        Anyway, I hope you continue to recover, and manage to get your sleep pattern back to normal, and naturally.
        Regards
        Ethan

      • By this logic one would never take a drug of any kind having to do with the brain or frankly any other part of the body. Some drugs IE Klonopin are life savers.

    • Hi Jessica, I agree with you that drugs can sometimes worsen the hypnic jerks in some people. I’ve come across several comments from people who are dealing with that issue as I’ve been researching about hypnic jerks. I’m currently not on any medication but have been unable to find a natural solution for mine so far (I’ve tried magnesium and calcium supplements, various night teas, meditation, etc). I’d rather not take medication because I’m afraid of becoming dependent on something or just causing the problem to become worse in the long run. I’ve had mine every night for the last 2.5 months and it’s getting increasingly difficult to maintain a full-time job. Sometimes I go in to work on no sleep at all. Just curious, you said you had been off the clonazepam for 11 days in your post – have the jerks gotten any better since then?

  • I was hit by serious hypnic jerks about two years ago and after that I couldn’t sleep for four-five days. (I had a very long and tough workout session the day before the jerks started) I was rushed to a hospital due to my serious case and the doctor prescribed me diazepams. He told me that my “supplements” including l-Glutamine and Whey protein were the causes of my sleep disorders.

    But his medication didn’t work that well. I would sleep for a few hours during nights but only after experiencing two hours of serious hypnic jerks, sometimes I felt like kicking something hard with my legs and waking up with a heart race.

    I then changed my doctor and visited a psychologist. He checked my background and prescribed me “Citalopram” and “Clonazepam”. His medication started to work from day 1. I would easily fall asleep about one hour after taking Clonazepam during the night.

    I used Clonazepam for almost 9 months, taking one 1mg pill each night. Then I started lowering the dosage gradually until I could finally fall asleep without them.

    I was OK for 6 months but again I have started experiencing these jerks from last week when I hit the gym for my first bodybuilding session (after one year).

    I can now easily relate these jerks to Bodybuilding and heavy workouts. I don’t use any supplements and am totally clean.

    I would really like to know why a weight lifting session causes such a bad sleep disruption.

    (I am again taking clonazepams every other night) :(

    • Hi Ham,
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. It’s very interesting to read about what you’ve been through, and the relation between body-building and hypnic jerks.

      Interestingly, I also do a lot of exercise and weight-training. I also use whey protein, but don’t get hypnic jerks very often. What I have found though is that if I over-train, train too late in the day (post 6 pm) or do one extremely heavy session one day, it can cause me sleep problems. I often find I’m exhausted and fall asleep quickly, but then wake up far too early, or wake up several times in the night. So personally, I try to keep my training early in the day, and not go crazy with it.

      Back to you, and the honest truth is I don’t know why you’re having that reaction. Perhaps you could experiment and try doing some light training, early in the day, and then slowly build up over the weeks. If you find that it’s ok with lighter sessions, but not with heavier, then you’ll begin to have an idea about what your body is happy with or not.

      I also do wonder whether there’s a vitamin or mineral problem there. Perhaps you’re depleting your body’s stocks of something. Maybe you could talk to a nutrition expert and see if they have an idea?

      Regards
      Ethan

  • Can you have this and often not be aware of it? My hubby says I frequently sound as if I’m panicking in my sleep and it keeps him awake. Most of the time I have no memory of it.

  • Hello All!
    I read all the comments as well as the article. While I am relieved to know its not an issue in itself I’ve experience these for along time even as a child. I agree it has a lot to do with anxiety and depression and insomnia but would like feedback (from you Ethan or anyone else willing) about sleeping and insomnia in general. I have been attending out patient groups learning about and practicing meditation, mindfulness, relaxation techniques; I take antidepressants and am currently pretty emotionally stable overall but still have major sleep issues. I don’t worry about the jerking awake it feels like falling to me, much like in the opening of your article, but once awake I’m ok and soon fall asleep again, when I can sleep. My issue is when I can’t sleep at all. Lately I have been happy to get even 3 hours a night. I recently stayed awake 5 days and 4 nights in a row and only slept 3 hours since. I do find the jerking is exacerbated at times like this and when suffering panic attacks as a previous writer described but often then I just don’t sleep at all. People don’t believe me that I stay awake so long as I live alone and am much of a shut in due to social anxiety, they never see me like others who have a wife or husband tell them later. I’ve tried everything but the magnesium this is first I’ve heard of it and am anxious to try it. I find this information comforting but still worry about staying up for days on end I know its not healthy. I don’t stay up longer that 5 days (yet) but thats enough to make me hallucinate, slur my speak and walk like a drunk when I don’t drink. I don’t spend my time worrying about it (or I’m not aware if I do) I’m just thankful to get any sleep when I get it. My doctor won’t prescribe benzos or sleepers which I find extremely frustrating while watching paid advertisements because it’s so late nothing else is on. I’m glad I found your article, I enjoyed reading it and found comfort in it and in relating with the others but none of them said they stayed up like me. I look forward to your feedback and hopefully a few hours sleep!

    • Hi there

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found the article comforting. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having such a terrible time with insomnia. That sounds like quite severe insomnia to me, and must be quite debilitating after a few days of not sleeping. What advice did your doctor give you when saying they wouldn’t prescribe anything? Presumably they had some other ideas for you?
      I think that if you can’t get medical help (you could always ask for a second opinion with a different doctor) then it’s up to you to try some of the many self-help options out there. It generally falls under the umbrella terms of ‘sleep hygiene‘ and I have a large section about it here. My advice would be to spend time going through all the different sections, and trying to piece as many together as you possibly can. Hopefully if you can dedicate some time and effort into addressing any areas of your life which might be contributing to the insomnia, it might ease in time.
      Perhaps the magnesium will also be helpful. Let me know if it has a positive effect on your sleep and hypnic jerks.
      All the best
      Ethan

      • Sorry you can’t sleep and you are not alone. I just read yet another article on the “Yahoo” site about Trazadone which is an antidepressant with sleep as a common side effect. Many doctors prescribe it for insomnia since it’s been around for a long time and is relatively cheap. It’s also not as addicting as benzos or Ambient. I’ve taken it myself in the past but found it to work temporarily, then sporadically, as do some other people. But some people say that Trazadone works great for years, some people claim that without medications, they would be like you, not sleep at all. I’ve seen this same comment made on the reviews for benzos and sleeping pills as well. So if it makes you feel any better, you are not alone. You might want to try seeing a holistic type of doctor or nurse practitioner for help.

      • Unfortunately my doctor didn’t have much advise except to try adjusting the time and amount of my antidepressants. I am seeing another doctor next week and hope to find better understanding, support and advise. I will review the information you recommended and keep you updated about my progress with the magnesium. Thanks for listening and providing this information. Its all to often that doctors don’t provide feedback about this kind of stuff which just makes all our conditions worse! Having some support such as this is very helpful and in case your wondering; no sleep last night either.

        • First of all thank you Sylvia for taking the time to respond to the previous comment.

          I’m glad to hear you’re still communicating with a doctor about your sleep problems. Let’s hope you can find some help which works for you. I’m glad you found the website supportive. I’m sure if doctors had the time to spend more time with patients, they would do. But unfortunately in many countries they are under so much pressure, it’s a struggle for them to see everyone who needs their help. That’s why I think it’s good to seek help in different areas, and as Sylvia puts it, to seek a holistic approach. Something which often involved a little creativity and time spent researching where else you can find support and advice. There’s plenty of it out there, you just have to look around a bit and see what you can find.
          Please do keep me updated – it’s always good to know that readers have managed to find solutions to their sleep problems.
          All the best
          Ethan

          • Thank you both for your posts. I have tried trazadone and experienced terrible side effects so was unable to continue. I tried a few antidepressants which work that way but more often than not the results are bad side effects. I am seeing a specialist and going for a sleep evaluation so I’m hoping to learn something through that. I’m just trying to stay positive.
            As for the sleep jerks, they do worsen when sleep deprived. I had terrible ones the first few times I fell asleep once awake 5 days. For me I know for sure sleep deprivation and body exhaustion are major contributors.
            Thanks again for your comments and support.

            • Hi again
              You’re very welcome. Let’s hope the sleep specialist can provide some solutions which work for you. If you have a moment in the future, please do pop back and let us know how it went. It’s always good to know that readers found help.
              Regards
              Ethan

    • I thought it happens when your heart rate goes really low (like when your extra tired) and it’s actually your bodies natural remedy to bring it back to “life”. if your heart rate gets too low it stops.

      • Hi Jonny
        I don’t think this is the case, though I can understand why you might think that. Was that your idea, or did you read something somewhere which made you think that was what’s happening?
        Regards
        Ethan

  • Hi,
    I get Hypnic jerks every night before falling asleep. I also get them during the day at any time as I am so fatigued.
    My problem is that any slight noise during my hours of sleep will cause a Hypnic jerk and I awake. The slightest sound, the fridge starting (downstairs in the kitchen), a pipe clicking (under the floorboards), a floorboard just flexing with a change in temperature is enough. And I have had enough, I feel like smashing the house down with a sledge hammer. A couple of nights ago I tied (securely) a clock with a loud tick above my head to try and distract any other noise from penetrating but that did not work. I seem to be tuned in to the noises and I awoke 5 or 6 times in the night. Not good. When I get the jerks while asleep they are quite powerful, and the back of my neck appears to whoosh! Any ideas other than sending for the men in white coats?

    • Hi John
      Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having such trouble sleeping. Have you spoken to a doctor about the jerks you get during the day? It might be a good idea to get that checked out to see if it’s something else causing it.

      I also think that a better strategy for dealing with noise might help. I don’t think a clock is going to help a lot. I would personally use earplugs, or even a white noise machine. I’m also super sensitive to noise, and find that earplugs generally do the trick.
      Regards
      Ethan
      Ethan

    • I used to get so bad I wouldn’t fall asleep til 2 or 3am just from sheer exhaustion then only to go through it again next night. the only thing that stops it is xanax I got from the doctor. also if I watch tv ill doze off fine but as soon as I wake up and turn it off bamm hits me. I have come to the conclusion it is all stress weather its things that happen to you or body stress. My mind wont shut down when my body wants to.

      • Hi Doug

        I think you’re right in that stress can play a huge role in the frequency and intensity of hypnic jerks people experience. You don’t get them any more though, or just to a lesser extent with the Xanax?
        Regards
        Ethan

          • It is Central Nervous system related. Xanax ER or XR stopped mine almost completed but the extended release I could feel the whole next day and frankly I got suicidal. Be careful with Xanax. Klonpin is much safer if it works. Less or no handover for me. If you have them at on-set of sleep eventually you will have them in early mornings. Alcohol makes mine 100 times worse or even cause them. I am still not sure. Even one drink.

    • I believe I am experiencing these hypnic jerks. The other day my kids told me while I slept I kept kinda shaking in my sleep. I asked what it looked like and my 8 year old got on the couch and started to do these little jolt like movements. I must admit it does scare me.

      Once asleep I usually don’t wake back up from them even if they are occurring. However falling asleep to start is really hard. Most nights I can lay awake tossing and turning till 3-4am. Waking up at 7-8am. I know stress and fatigue are part of it. But when I wake from them my heart races and if I test my BP its usually around 148/88. Which is high for me. My fear is that long term exposer will cause heart problems. I have had echo done and gel scan of my veins sorry can’t think of the name. All came out clean. But when its real bad the night before the next day I get chest pain and pulsing headaches all day. I feel like I can pass out at any moment. Again I know its more likely to be stress and or anxiety but its hard to overcome when they physical pains are present and its not normal.

      • Hi Shane

        Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’ve been having this level of physical problems and it’s taking it’s toll on you. You might be right in that stress and/or anxiety is playing a role. Despite being associated with problems in the head, they can have a whole range of unpleasant physical symptoms too. Add to that fatigue, and it’s no wonder that you’re having some difficulties.

        Did you ever speak to the doctor about the possibility of wearing a 24 hour heart monitor? Sometimes they can offer this, which will collect a better picture of what’s going on rather than a one off scan and ultrasound (the gel thing probably).

        I think that if you recognize that stress is a big factor in your life, then it’s important you take some action about that. My personal favorite self-help route for example is mindfulness. You might also find some mindfulness exercises in this article which you can do in the night when you wake up feeling anxious. Otherwise, do some research online and see if you can find something which appeals to you as a way of dealing with the stress and anxiety.
        Regards
        Ethan

  • Thanks for this! It got me a bit less worried. I have epilepsy so this is kind of freaking me out. I’m going to bring it up with my doctor just in case because this almost never happened to me and now suddenly it’s been happening a lot.

    • Hi Samantha
      Thanks for your comment, and I can understand why it would worry you in the context of having epilepsy. I think it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor about it, especially if it’s only just started recently, just to be on the safe side.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • I had this several years now right before I fall into deep sleep I jolt awake. It was so bad night after night it would keep me up for hours doing it over and over until the point of exhaustion and finally get to sleep. I have finally figured out its stress related. I started lifting weights and exercising and noticed when my body would get over stressed it happened sometimes for a week straight. I pushed through it and it went away and continued to eat good and exercise and this worked to stop them. I have anxiety issues and do take xanax from my doctor when needed and its the only thing that helps me through these episodes. One thing I noticed that’s strange. If im watching tv in bed during these episodes I will doze off and sleep but when I wake up and turn the tv off and try to go back to sleep they start.

      • Hi Doug

        Thanks for your comment. I think that being healthy and exercising is great for sleep. But yes, sometimes if you over-do it, you can end up with sleep problems. It’s interesting though that you feel you pushed through and they stopped eventually. I also think that stress in general is a major factor for many people.
        I’m not sure why the TV thing would happen. Perhaps it’s because you somehow feel more relaxed when there is the familiarity of a TV. Or perhaps it’s affecting the stage of sleep you’re transitioning into. Just guesses really!
        Regards
        Ethan

  • I’m not gonna lie I experience these every so often but I kind of enjoy getting them I’ve only gotten them on the verge of sleep and when I do get them I would usually chuckle or smile before laying back down and resuming sleep the feeling they give me is somewhat similar to ASMR if you have heard of it.

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. I also find hypnic jerks quite entertaining, and welcome them as I know they usually mean sleep is around the corner. I hadn’t heard of ASMR, but I just looked it up online, and it certainly seems interesting!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I recently started getting hypnic jerks. First it was here and there, now its everyday and I´m not getting any sleep at all cause it happens so much during the night. I worry too much about it and go to sleep thinking its going to happen again and I´m not going to get any sleep again. So, after reading this I´m very much relieved and will try my best no to worry or stress about it. Plus I recently started suffering from panic or anxiety attacks so I do really believe that that is one main cause of hypnic jerks. I´m 33 years old, never had this issues before in my entire life until recently. Thanks for this, really made a difference.

    • Hi Jimmy,
      Thank you for your comment, and I’m really pleased the article was helpful. It’s not so easy not to worry about your sleep, but it can be one of the most powerful ways to improve many sleep problems. Sometimes the vicious circle of worrying about sleep is worse than the actual initial sleep problem! I would definitely recommend checking out the article I wrote about mindfulness techniques you can use to help you sleep. You might find it helps you stop thinking so much about the sleep problems.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I do this often I’m always scared to death. do you think its hereditary cause my mother did it too? i need some sleep.

    • Hi Denise
      I think it’s an extremely common thing, whether it’s hereditary or not, so try not to worry about it too much. Hopefully you’ll feel a little more at ease having read the article. Try to remember that it’s harmless, and nothing to be scared of.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • My husband does this… but he doesn’t wake up. He just stays alseep…He freaking punches me in the back or throws his arm on Me in the middle of the night. I try to wake him up to tell him that he scared and hurt me and he laughs at me in his sleep and rolls over… I tell him the next day and he doesn’t remeber any of it. I hate it. LoL he feels horrible about it and now won’t even come near me when we sleep. Going to apply some of these tips and hope for the best.

    • Hi Laura
      Thanks for your comment, and I can understand how this must be upsetting for you both. i do wonder whether it’s hyonic jerks or not though if he is doing so much in his sleep. There could be some element of the body not shutting down into a state of muscle paralysis, which is what normally happens to prevent such potentially dangerous behaviour. Does he sometimes alpear to act out dreams im his sleep? If so it could be something like REM behaviour disorder amd worth getting checked out. But also do try some of the tips, such as taking magnesium supplements and see if that helps.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Overall, mine have gotten worse although from night to night they vary in severity and frequency.

    Lately on my worse nights I have vocalizations with them and the night before last it was quite loud; almost a scream.

    I haven’t really been able to find anything that improves them but I do notice that when I go to bed when in pain or very sleepy they are likely to be worse, although sometimes I have bad nights even when those two things are not going on.

    I wish researchers would put some time and money into solving this problem, as it seems to me that if they’re happening enough so that people can’t get quality sleep that can ultimately cause all sorts of health problems.

    Also, it follows that if doctors and scientists don’t know how to stop them then they really haven’t studied them enough to know for sure they aren’t dangerous.

    Some nights I can’t really get to sleep and stay asleep until about 5 AM when they finally stop long enough to get a few uninterrupted hours.

    • Hi giftbearer
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such bad sleep disruption due to hypnic jerks.
      I can understand your frustration that there doesn’t appear to be one simple solution. It would be great if you could search online for it, and find one clear paragraph saying what to do to stop them permanently, but that isn’t the case unfortunately. And that’s often the way with sleep problems in general, because it can be quite complex with lots of differnt factors influencing how well we sleep or not.
      My advice would be to have a good look at the list of tips from readers in the article, as there are lots of doog ideas there. And particularly about magnesium supplements, something which many readers say has helped them.
      All the best
      Ethan

      • I’ve been getting these too, along with restless legs for almost a year now. I’ve had chronic insomnia and unrefreshing sleep that first showed up almost 3 yrs ago. My neurologist prescribed Clonazopam. I use just 1/2 mg some nights to get uninterrupted sleep. It does override the jerking and snapping noise but it varies in how much time it takes getting to sleep. Must be used with caution since it’s addictive.

        • Hi there,
          Thanks for your comment. A number of readers have reported being prescribed clonazepam and that it does indeed help. But I think you’re right to advise caution as it is addictive. If the problem can be overcome by other means, that’s definitely a better eay forward. But im the short term under proper medical supervision drugs like this can provide some relief.
          Regards
          Ethan

        • I have RLS and take Sifrol .125 mg which does stop RLS. I am also on light dose of “happy pills” my wife calls them Faverin 100 for anxiety for the last 9 months and i finally feel I will be able to cut back on these tablets. I did find when I first went on to these tablets I was really throwing myself about so I slept by myself for 7 months as I was scared I would throw out my arms and punch my wife!!
          I was told to make sure when on medication you take it at the same time, also I split them up over a couple of hours before going to bed as I also take Minipress as I was continually getting up going to the toilet. I also have Tinnitus in the ears and I have started taking Blackmores 6000 with tebonin and I think this does help. I also read not to have carbonated drinks, make sure you have Carbs at night time and even have a piece of cake (if diet allows!!!) before going to bed as this helps to relax the brain. I have just read about “white noise” and i do actually do this by having a fan on.
          I CANT BELIEVE WITH THE RINGING IN THE EARS IS SO COMMON THAT NO ONE HAS COME UP WITH A CURE.
          I drink very little alcohol and i dont drink coffee as i was getting headaches from even the smallest amount.
          sorry for the spelling!!

          • Hi Alan
            Thank your for your comment. I can understand your frustration about tinnitus as I also have it. Unfortunately scientists still haven’t found an answer to many common problems. Though it sounds like you have some ideas of things which can help, which is great.
            Have you read the article about restless legs syndrome here? I’d be very interested to hear your story in more detail there, especially if you can talk about how the medication you take has stopped it.
            Regards
            Ethan

  • I just wanted to say that I have them regularly. Usually when I haven’t had enough sleep for a couple nights in a row. I can tell when I am going to have them because my body gets the creepy crawlies. My jerks always start in my stomach. I have a huge jerk and sometimes my arms and legs are involved and sometimes not. I will usually have it happen about once every 7-10 days and have between 4-10 each time. Because of the creepy crawlies and need to move ( I think I have restless leg as well) my husband will try to relax me by rubbing my back. I will start jerking after he’s rubbed about 10 minutes. He has said that the jerks will lessen and eventually I sleep through them till they stop.

    • Hi Deanna
      Thanks for your comment. I think many previous readers have commented on how sleep deprivation or changes to their sleep schedule can make hypnic jerks worse for them. I guess that’s a good reason to try to ensure you have a regular, stable sleep schedule and that you try not to allow the pressures of daily life to eat into your precious sleep time.
      You might also find it interesting to read the article about restless legs syndrome if you think you might have that. You’ll find some tips there which might also help.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I forgot to mention, sorry, but both times that this happened to me, it was not when I had just fallen asleep, at least, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. :)

    • It’s sometimes hard to tell that too…how long had you been asleep for before something happened? Again it could be an indicator that it’s not a real hypnic jerk, but just a reaction to your dream:-)

  • Unlike everyone else who has commented, or maybe not, there were tons of comments and I didn’t read through them all!, I believe I have only experienced this type of thing maybe twice or at most, three times, so far in my life and they have all occurred when I was very young. I personally thought them to be sort of cool. For instance, the last one that I remember involved me being in a car race, kinda like NASCAR, but on dirt roads, etc. The details are a little hazy, I think I was maybe 7 years old or around there. Anyways, all I remember is the car, I may have been in it, sped toward a huge dirt speed “bump”, well, like the “bumps” they have at the motorcross things, and as the car sped up the bump, suddenly, the ground dropped out from under me and I just woke up. My heart was racing and I felt like I had had an adrenaline rush, which is why I said it was a pretty cool experience. Since then, I have never had something like that happen to me again.

    • Hi Stefanie

      Thanks for your comment. You’re not the first to say that they find hypnic jerks amusing in one way or another, myself included. I’m not sure if what you describe is really a hypnic jerk, or just one of those weird times when we dream something, then wake up with some kind of physical action which seems to reflect the dream. It’s hard to say though which came first – the dream or the physical movement, as both can elicit the other.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi just read your very interesting article, my problem, according to my wife, is that the jerks go on all night, is this the “jerks” or something else, could you put any light on the subject for me

    • Hi Christopher
      It depends what she means by goes on all night. Is it randomly during the night, or is it every few seconds or minutes? Is it really jerks, or is it just you moving about in bed as we all do many times in the night, and this is waking her up with a start? I’d say you need a bit more info from her, or film yourself sleeping to see what’s going on for yourself.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I heard that this was a carry-over from when we were monkeys and hung out up trees. It was dangerous if the monkey slept up a tree, so they developed this jerk response prior to sleeping.

    • Hi Simon

      I’ve never heard that explanation before! It sounds to me like that would be even more risky, as the jerk could end up throwing them out of the tree!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Hi all

    I first started to get these jerks last year after 2 days of heavy drinking and little sleep (plus a line of some unknown powder – Im not proud) The jerks were intense…one after the other and they stopped me from sleep for another 3 nights…the only thing that stopped them was diazepam….anyways, I stopped taking the diazepam as they are a slippery slope and the jerks hardly have happened since…maybe once or twice…until today! And guess what people, I had a skinful of booze last night…
    Therefore I am now 100% convinced that they are caused by alcohol and dehydration…I don’t even think that tiredness plays a part because in the last year I have had a few sleepless nights due to insomnia (which has also improved with the help of mirtazapine – i highly recommend it) and there was no sign of these jerks.

    • Hi Paul

      Thanks for your comment. You’re not the first reader to comment about how a night of heavy drinking caused hypnic jerks. I think that it’s obviously not the explanation for everyone, because not everyone who gets them drinks. But definitely for some people it seems to make them appear, or makes them worse. Perhaps in part due to withdrawal, and part from dehydration and mineral loss.
      I guess you’ll need to be prepared for the eventuality if you drink, unfortunately.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have had a mild twitch as i am falling asleep which is no big deal. It happens and i must be awake enough to know that it was just like a muscle twitch. I have had this for a long time. I also have restless leg syndrom and and treated for that with mirapex. Which works wonders. I always thought that the twitching was part of that and pretty much ignored it. But here recently i have been statled awake 1 to 2 times a night maybe once a week in the middle of the night when i am in a deep sleep. I feel like i had been shaking or bouncing. And it takes a minute to realize i am in my bed in my room. And it gives me a bit of anxiety. I am able to go back to sleep but it worries me is that what this is? What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Kasey,

      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like it could be explained either by the restless legs syndrome or by a hypnic jerk. Just because you have one doesn’t mean you can’t experience the other too. It could be that it’s the same twitch you’ve had in the past, but for whatever reason recently it’s been a bit stronger, or you’ve just noticed it more. I would say wait a while and see if it settles back down again. If not you could always speak to the doctor treating the RLS.
      All the best
      Ethan

  • I was once told that the feeling of falling while asleep was a clumsy angel. The angel was picking you up to carry you away but tripped and dropped you back into your body. From what i read in the beginning of this article and others, it sounds like a possibility where for a short period of time your body slowly starts to shut down on you anyway.

    • Hi Dan

      What a lovely idea! I’m not one for believing in angels generally, but I do like the slap-stick image that your description conjures up:-)
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have a friend who has quite similar experience with one of the person who post here. I am helping him to check it out. He experienced this jerks on hands and legs before falling asleep. Instead of being worried, he actually enjoyed it.. He just relax and let it jerk go to full force and return to sleep and gradually the jerk become weak on other nights and gone..

    reference from previous poster:
    clucker
    May 20, 2014 at 6:35 am

    • Hi Steven

      Thank you for your comment. I think that not worrying about it is one of the best ways of dealing with it. For many people, it’s something they might be able to reduce, but will possibly just have to learn to live with and accept. So it sounds like he is already of the right mind-set.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I happen to get this extremely frequently, often over five times a night just twitching and awakening suddenly, to realize your not falling. It’s a weird sensation to go from rapidly falling to jerking upwards in your own bed, then looking around to realizing you are just in your own room. I haven’t found it too annoying as I asleep as soon as I get it but another thing that has come with all this sleep jerking is feeling extremely dizzy when standing or sometimes when you’re not doing anything at all. I just get all these dots in my vision and unbelievable dizziness. Although I know that a lot of people get this, I get it to the point where I have fainted and then jerk and wake myself up again, only to find myself on the floor and then I realize that I have fainted. Just wondering whether having these kinds of episodes are normal?

    Thanks, Isabel

    • Hi Isabel,

      Thanks for your comment. I think from what you say, you should get yourself checked out by your doctor. Any fainting spells and dizziness is something which should be looked into.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Deep breathing when I first lay down helps to prevent mine. It releases stress and helps my body to relax progressively and consciously…so that my brain and my muscles are more in sync.

  • I often get these jerks while falling asleep in uncomfortable positions such as in the car or on an airplane. I seem to fall right asleep after them though.

  • Hi Ethan,

    I’m wondering if you can help me. I seem to be having these hypnic jolts every night. I can fall asleep fine, but when I do, about half an hour later I have this kind of jolt. It’s been happening every night for the past five days and I’m starting to loose my mind.

    I’ve had Depression and Anxiety for a long time, but neither ever affected my sleep like this, they usually just created nightmares whereas in this case, I haven’t had dreams or slept almost at all.

    Nothing big has happened recently that changed my sleeping so I’m not sure what’s going on but I’d like to figure something out so I don’t continue to try sleeping for 8 hours only to end up getting 4 hours of sleep.

    Take Care,
    Eliza

    • Hi Eliza

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear the hypnic jerks have been causing havoc with your sleep. Have you spoken to your doctor about it? They might be able to advise you, and also check the mineral and vitamin levels in your body. Many readers have reported that taking magnesium or calcium supplements has helped them. More than any other of the tips I think. It could be worth trying. Otherwise, perhaps just start trying out the various suggestions which others have found helped them.
      And above all, try not to get too stressed about it, which I know is easier said than done. I think if it does happen, and you wake up, the best thing is to not dwell on it or react to it. Try to accept it as something which is just happening at this period in time, and allow yourself to forget it and fall asleep again. You could even try doing some relaxation techniques in bed if it wake you up and you find yourself getting stressed or upset by it.
      All the best
      Ethan

  • Hi all,
    I had these jerks in my left leg every night for a few weeks and it seemed to get worse, keeping me awake although i was tired. I took magnesium Glycinate tablets, taking one in the morning and one with my supper, by the second night no more jerking! The magnesium even relaxes you so you sleep better. I was going to see the doctor as one starts to get worried, i wonder what drug would have been prescribed. My jerking must have been a symptom of my magnesium levels being low.

    take care
    Andre

    • Hi Andre

      Thank you for your comment, and it’s really great to hear that you found something which helped you so quickly and effectively! More and more people seem to report good results with magnesium supplements, so yours is another story to add to the anecdotal evidence.
      Many thanks
      Ethan

  • 5am and nervous about going back to bed. Thought I’d do a little research !
    Very useful, thank you (all).
    My experience is of ‘near death’. My brain seems to focus on something that it sees as a problem situation but one which I know is not real. When I realise this, in my near-unconscious state, it feels as if my brain is dying and that I am thinking my last ever semi rational thought. Though not necessarily breathing my last breath. And all that happens within a second or two. I always cry out.
    Possible contributing factors? Being overtired, conversely trying to sleep when not tired enough, alcohol (usually the night following the drinking of, and (possibly a new suggestion) sudoku problem solving just before bed! My brain seems to remain in sudoku-solving mode!

    62 year old reasonably healthy male. Started about 4 years ago. Not every night by any means, but I’ve just had at least ten of them within an hour or two.

    Comforting to know there are others who suffer and extremely helpful to hear there is no cause for alarm. Am just now going back to bed with that thought in mind. Thank you.
    Richard

    • Hi Richard,

      Thank you for your comment, and I’m pleased that you found the article helpful and comforting. That’s always good to hear!

      I think from what you say, that it’s more likely the alcohol and tiredness are contributing factors, rather than sudoku! But who knows…

      I guess you can work it out bit by bit by eliminating one of those factors at a time (including the sudoku) and seeing if it makes a difference. Obviously eliminating tiredness isn’t so easy, but it you can perhaps try and maintain a stable sleep schedule for a week or two and get plenty of rest, then you could see if it helps.

      All the best
      Ethan

    • They say the bright light from a computer etc is not good for the brain, if you look at my other comment about what i was told for relaxing the brain.

  • I am 13 years old and I have been having them as long I can remember. I am also tripping the stairs almost everyday and fall even when I am walking with care. I would like to know if these problems are related. I often feel like I am falling of the stairs while having these jerks. I also have them regularly though they are light at that time. It happens when I am day-dreaming while in bed. I do that to fall asleep. I am often afraid to fall asleep because of these.

    • Hi Shreya
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear you’ve been having sleep problems. Have you spoken to your parents about this? It might help to talk to someone about it. I don’t understand why you’re tripping on the stairs every day though. You might find it useful to talk to them about that too.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Hi, Ethan.

      I’ve had these hypnic jerks now for about eight straight nights. Two nights ago was not as bad as the other nights… I thought maybe I was normalizing at last. But nope!

      Is this common? I mean, to seldom—if ever—experience these things, but all of the sudden it happens all the time? I am trying to determine if I am any more stressed than usual, but I can’t really pin-point anything. The only thing I can think of is that I made my appointment to see the Neurologist the day/night they began. Maybe I am subconsciously anxious, and my anxiety is making itself know in this way? I don’t know.

      But now, I go to bed expecting it. I have even delayed going to bed because I don’t want to deal with it. Not good, but not sure what else to do.

      I think I will try experimenting with cutting-down on coffee to maybe just one cup in the morning, for starters. Unfortunately, I can’t go to the gym earlier as my work situation doesn’t easily allow for that.

      Thanks again for the follow-up.

      • Hi James

        I think it is possible to suddenly start experiencing hypnic jerks. Or maybe you have had them before, but just not strong enough for you to really pay attention to.
        It could be that there is some underlying anxiety there from what you say. I guess one way to find out will be to see if they reduce once you’ve been to see the neurologist, assuming they don’t tell you something you worry about more!
        I do think it’s important to try not to get into the vicious circle of not worrying about sleep though. And I know that’s easier said than done. I would recommend looking at the section on relaxation techniques for sleep and doing some of those as you’re lying in bed. You might find they help deal with anxiety, and also help you stop worrying about sleeping or not.
        All the best
        Ethan

  • I am 48 years old, and have never experienced hypnic jerks until recently—not that I can recall. They began maybe several weeks ago, but were pretty much one-offs and I fell asleep easily after just experiencing the jerk once.

    But the past four nights (tonight being the fourth… hence my being here now) I’ve had them many times per night. My sleep has been wrecked these past nights—only having finally fallen asleep after hours of experiencing these jerks.

    I am at a point where I expect them now, and that is making things worse, of course.

    My wife says I have nothing to worry about—to just recognize them for what they are. However, I’ve been experiencing other neuropathy-type symptoms since last December, and have been trying to get to the bottom of them since.

    Could I just be stressed-out by everything… and these hypnic jerks are just another “symptom”. Or, could they be a part of a larger problem? … which, the thought of, makes me even more stressed?

    Thanks.

    • Hi James

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve going through such a stressful experience. Even though hypnic jerks are harmless, I know it can be very disturbing to have them so regularly. And the accumulative effect of the lack of sleep and worry can definitely make things worse.
      I’m not sure what you mean by other neuropathy symptoms, but my advice would be to talk to your doctor about everything you are experiencing, if you haven’t already done so.
      Then I think it’s important to work on the worry about them happening. And I know that’s easier said that done. Personally I’m a big believer in the power of doing relaxation exercises, breathing, meditation of whatever you feel comfortable with while you’re in bed to help take your mind of the worry, and to relax.
      And I also recommend having a look at the readers’ tips section in the article. Many people have found that the tips there have helped a lot – particularly those about magnesium and calcium supplements. So you could try that.
      I hope things improve soon for you.
      All the best
      Ethan

      • Hi, Ethan.

        Thanks so much for the reply.

        I have been working with my doctor/s (I lost my doctor on Jan. 1st and got a new one) since mid-Decemeber when I first began experiencing my symptom (tingling and prickling in the extremities, mainly. But occasional brief, fleeting pain, as well). I’ve had CT scans and and MRI that ruled-out some of the more serious concerns I’ve had. All tests normal. I am seeing a Neurologist next month (earliest she could see me!) and will have some further tests done under her care.

        So, when anything like these hypnic jerks makes themselves known, it adds to the stress and anxiety.

        I have read the tips that the other users here have contributed. I try breathing exercises when I get anxious… I’ve always worked out at the gym late in the evening, as my work schedule permits, and have never had any issues with it effecting my sleep. But I’ll see if any of the others might benefit me.

        Thank you again.
        James

        • Hi James,

          No problem. Well it’s good your getting all the tests done and are in the hands of the professionals. Hopefully they will be able to bring your some peace of mind and improvement.
          Let me know how it goes if you get a moment, and also if you think any of the other tips help out. If you can do your gym training earlier in the day, even just as an experiment for a short while, it might be interesting to see if it is now having an effect.
          All the best
          Ethan

  • Ethan,

    I found this article Googling ‘body jerks before falling asleep’ out of curiosity because it happens to me quite frequently; that sudden whole-body jerk that happens just as I’m about to fall asleep. I had started to drift off while leaning my head on my husband’s shoulder this afternoon and then my whole body jerked. It jumped my husband and he said, “Whoa. Where you going? Did you just jump out of a plane or something?”

    I notice that it happens alot when I don’t actually want to fall asleep, I just want to rest..not sleep. That may be why it happens to me. My brain knows it’s not time for sleep. My own subconscious alarm possibly? Or my brain and body want to sleep but I don’t have time to sleep right at that moment. Something like that.

    I suspect it may also be stress induced but I’m never ‘not stressed’ so it would be hard for me to make that determination.

    Anyway, just thought I’d add my ‘2 cents’. I don’t think my own personal experience with them means anything is medically wrong. I think I’m overtired and over stressed and could use a really long vacation on beautiful warm sandy beach. ;-)

    Thanks for all the insight on this ‘Hypnic Jerk’ thing.

    • Hi Tammy

      Thank you for your comment, and I’m pleased your found the article helpful.
      I think there is every chance that being tired and stressed is contributing to the hypnic jerks. So many readers have mentioned the same, it’s hard to ignore that possibility!
      My advice would be to start saving for that long vacation…you probably deserve it!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • There is no question alcohol exacerbates them or caused them. The heavier you drink the worse they are . Cannot drink at all anymore . Sad .

    • Hi Mark,

      Yes, I think many people have noticed the same thing. It’s a shame you can’t find a drink which you can still enjoy in small quantities at least!
      All the best
      Ethan

  • Have suffered through this on/off for 20+ years, the jerking awake especially bad during times of heightened anxiety, the only help in the past has been getting up out of bed and exercising, sometimes many times throughout the night just to be able to get a couple of hours sleep….recently the exercise hasnt done the trick, so i tried adding extra powdered magnesium/ multi vitamins to the diet, which is definitely helping and am a bit optimistic. …alcohol definitely does not help and seems to make the jerking awake worse…my condolences to everyone suffering this ailment, its a devastating ordeal to be exhausted laying in bed at 4AM and unable to fall asleep

    • Hi Mike

      Thank you for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such problems spanning so many years. I can understand your frustration!
      From what you’re saying about needing to get out of bed and exercise, it makes me think of restless legs syndrome. Have you thought about that possibility before?
      I’m glad the magnesium and vitamins seems to be helping. Perhaps over time it will build in its effect.
      All the best
      Ethan

  • I’ve been experiencing these ” jerks ” for approx 4-5 yrs, previously had a high stress job and tend to be anxious in general . Mine tend to feel like a swelling of shaking from my legs , up through my torso into my head, but it varies , I don’t actually shake but it feels that way. It’s usually as most say just before nodding off at night but have had it whilst trying to sleep in the day. Also suffer from lightheadedness and other symptoms of anxiety. Found the comments about possible aids very useful , will,definitely give a few a try .

    • Hi Tony,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found the article and comments helpful. Yes, there are some great tips and suggestions from readers and I hope you find something to help.
      You may also find it useful to read the article about restless legs syndrome and see if that rings any bells with what you experience.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • Sorry for possible misspelling. I’m Dutch…
    In my case I experienced hypnic jerks for a period of two weeks and also awakening around 3 AM. The hypnic jerks obstructed my sleep. One night I had zero sleep.
    It was not traceable. I had not changed my lifestyle. I did not have any problems I knew off. However, I took Pantoprazole (40 mg per day) against reflux for more than two years. After some research on this subject it became clear that absorption of magnesium, calcium, zinc, Vit b and probably more elements and vitamins are inhibited by this medicine. These are essential for a good rest and sleep. At this moment I have halved the dose Pantoprazole en took daily 400 mg magnesium supplements (oxide and citrate). Also vit b. I have done this for about a week now (Tuesday February 24, 2015). I only have a very light hypnic jerk thereafter. I get a good sleep until 4 AM. Then I still wake and cannot get to sleep. I am going to stop this medicine complete and see if it changes my situation. However, consult your doctor before making any big changes.
    If you read this, I really hope this works for you because I know sleep problems are horrible. Best of luck. Rob

    • Hi Rob,

      Thank you for your comment, and the spelling is very good!
      It’s interesting that you describe another possible scenario where reduced magnesium and calcium levels may have contributed to your hypnic jerks. It will be even more interesting to find out what happens when you stop the Pantoprazole. If you have a moment to pop back and let us know, that would be very helpful.
      Hopefully it will help, and you’ll be able to start getting some decent, restful sleep again. And your advice about consulting a doctor before discontinuing medication is very wise.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have had this hypnic jerk for about 4 years now. I’ve had this once before for a couple of months but stopped for a year without me knowing how. It all started again when I had a panic attack and I managed that and it still remained. it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve started on cal mag and it doesn’t stop it completely but it doesn’t entail the anxiety that comes afterwards so it’s a good thing. I’m still trying to figure out my dose since I often get diarrhea and I find when I’m having diarrhea for a couple of days I have it worse. calcium magnesium surely helps. Nice article. very useful. Thanks Ethan! I will follow this definitely and lets help each other out to cure this or manage it never the less.

    • Hi reno,

      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear you’ve had problems with hypnic jerks. And panic attacks can be very unpleasant indeed!
      You’re right in that getting the dose is right, as diarrhea can be a side effect, so hopefully with some experimenting you’ll get it right eventually.
      I’m glad you liked the article, and feel free to stay in touch and come back any time you like.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Try “Benefiber”. A gastro doctor recommended that to me when I was taking medication that contained magnesium stearate. Benefiter is available at Walmart.

  • I see many saying these are harmless . I do not think so . When you cannot sleep that is not harmless . I also now after dealing with these for 2 straight years no longer believe they are from anxiety but rather they are physical . Medications can trigger them for sure and make them worse . Mine started when I began testosterone therapy and I have stopped and started this therapy 4 times now and each time I stopped I have had hypnic jerks for exactly 4 months after discontinuation . I am certain there is a hormonal component with me and would not be surprised if it was with most or many others .

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your point about hypnic jerks not being harmless, if the reduction of your sleep quality is then causing you problems. What is meant though is that they in themselves are not a sign of an actual condition which is causing you damage. I guess it’s a point of view debate which you could rightly argue either way.
      I think you’re right in that there can be a physical cause, and this is not disputed. It’s just that anxiety is known to be a trigger for many people and makes them worse. That doesn’t necessarily rule out other causes though, such as is possibly the case for you.
      If you’ve noticed such a clear pattern in reducing the hormone therapy and having hypnic jerks, then there’s a good chance you’re right. But even if it is for you, that doesn’t mean the same idea can be applied to most others!
      Anyway, the important thing for you is that you find a way to deal with them whilst still having any treatment you need and want. Hopefully the ideas in this article will have provided you with some new ideas you could try out next time.
      All the best
      Ethan

  • I started not sleeping over a month ago. I had a cold and didn’t sleep. Since then I haven’t been able to sleep because I have the jerk reaction everyone I try to fall asleep. I have anxiety now severely i’m guessing from sleep deprivation. The doctors say I have depression and anxiety disorder, but prior to all of this I slept and felt decent. I only get a couple hours here and there even the temazapam can’t break this. My muscles are so sore and tired. I feel like Im losing my mind but I know if I could just sleep I’d be better. I’m so hopeless idk how much longer I can do this. The doctors just think im crazy when I tell them I jerk and can’t fall asleep. Help!

    • Hi Melanie,

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m very sorry to hear you’ve been having such difficulty in coping with all those things. It sounds like it could well be hypnic jerks. I’m surprised the doctors don’t know about hypnic jerks! Have you told them what you think it is exactly, using the medical name of hypnic jerks?
      The main thing is to try to find a way to accept that it’s a normal, and harmless occurrence. As you’ll see from all the comments here, you’re most definitely not alone or weird for having them!
      How you cope is going to be something only you can decide. You can try some of the techniques here suggested by other readers. In your case I would strongly recommend looking into doing anything which is relaxing, calming or soothing. Pamper yourself before going to bed, do things you enjoy and find calming. I know it can be hard to find the motivation to do so if you feel depressed and anxious, but if you can take some small steps towards doing positive things, it might really help. In many cases, self-help can be much more effective than medical help!
      All the best
      Ethan

    • Hi Melanie; You’re experiencing the same thing I am. My hypnic jerks started several months ago but I had already been dealing with insomnia most of the time for 2 yrs prior. I’ve also developed restless legs off and on and snapping noise in my head as I’m starting to drift off. It seems to all tie in together. The head noise could be from my tinnitis but doesn’t happen every night. I recommend you see a neurologist type of doctor. That’s what I did when my internist seemed to disregard my description of jerking awake repetitively. (However, she did check my blood for iron and ferritin and magnesium levels.) My neurologist prescribed Clonazepam which really does help. It’s a “benzo” so I’m taking the minimum recommended dosage of .5 mg when it says I can take up to 1 mg. It does settle down the jerking and snapping noise and helps me sleep deeper and longer. Sometimes the TV helps me fall asleep in my recliner so I don’t need the Clonazepam every night. Like I said, the internist did check my iron and ferritin levels. Iron levels are mid range but ferritin level of 22 is the very low end range of normal. My own research reveals that low ferritin (iron stores) can cause what my neurologist calls “myoclonic jerks” or “sleep starts”. It can also cause restless legs syndrome along with the jerks. Another doctor I saw who specializes in hormone replacement and nutrition prescribed “Ferralet 90” iron tabs to help bring up my ferritin level. This could take several months but I’m hoping it will solve the ongoing jerking and insomnia so I can eventually wean off clonazepam. Lunesta has also helped me get to sleep and stay asleep longer. I recently started taking a Cal-Mag supplement as recommended by the nutrition doctor.

  • Sorry for all the predictive typos. I meant to say run down (not running) and rather than hypnotic state, hypnagogic state.

  • Hi, I have read all these comments and found them all so interesting, so I hope my experiences will add a little light.

    I have had these starts since I was very young up to now (I am 48). They nearly always occur only when I am running down, or if I try to sleep at an irregular time, like napping in the afternoon.

    I lie down, letting my mind drift of and suddenly (it takes only a second) I have this terrible feeling that I am dying and I therefore need to jerk myself awake to survive. It’s like when you try to escape from a bad dream, or even lucid dreaming, which I have been able to do.

    When I awake it is with a trtremendous jolt and gasp of air which I feel at that moment has been my subconscious need to survive.

    I do have various health problems including atrial fibrillation, and as I said before these episodes usually occurs when I am running down (mineral and vitamin deficienct?).

    Lastly, I read somewhere that there is a theory that during this hypnotic state, to an unsettled mind the sensation of falling asleep is the same as that of dying, and so the “self” fights to survive, hence the gasp for air. But I will stress that in all of my experiences without exception is have felt a desperate need to fight imminent death.

    Anyway, super article and site, very reassuring knowing I’m not alone.

    Cheers

    • Hi Angusmoo,

      Thanks for your comment. How long did it take you read all the comment?? I think you’re right in that it often gets worse when feeling run-down, or sleeping with some break from the normal routine.
      I’m not sure about the self fighting for survival though! My personal feeling is that our brain, and self, is smart enough to know when it’s falling asleep or dying.
      That said, if that’s the feeling that you personally get, then I guess that’s something perhaps to look into a bit more. Maybe it’s somehow connected to worries you have? But you’re not alone in that though, in any case. I know many people find it very unsettling, and also have the feeling that something serious is happening, as opposed to the harmless hypnic jerk that it probably is.
      Anyway, I hope you found something useful in the article, and perhaps as you suggest, if it is a deficiency, you could try and boost those minerals and see if it helps.
      All the best

      Ethan

  • Last night I experienced this ALL NIGHT LONG. I didn’t even ever fall asleep. I must have Did this jerk thing about 700 times. No joke. I don’t think I ever was able to fall asleep without jerking right before. What the hell was that about?

    • Hi Kristina

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you had such a horrible night. That does sound like an extreme amount of times to have hypnic jerks. Hopefully it was a one-off, with a reason you may never know. But I would say if it continues with the same intensity tonight or in the future, you might want to talk to your doctor just to rule out anything else other than harmless hypnic jerks.
      All the besT
      Ethan

  • Hi,

    I started getting hyping jerks when I was 18 – 25 years ago….the first time it happened, I was so scared that I stayed up all night as I thought I was going to die! Since then, they have increased in both frequency and severity. Now, I get them every night, my whole body jerks, I gasp and scream and this can happen from just a couple of times a night to over 20. I saw a new doctor yesterday who said the word ‘hypnagogic”, I came home, looked it up and have finally found a name for this horrible condition. I have been prescribed amitriptyline as I also get the hallucinations (usually a red hand coming over the side of my bed!). My doctor seems to be heading down the narcoleptic route.
    These attacks are scary and sometimes hurt as they are so violent – I have even filmed myself which is interesting. It seems the more tired I am, the worse they are – other than that, there is no set pattern. I have tried all sorts to try to overcome it but so far, nothing.
    I am pleased (sort of) that there are people out there who also get this and I’m not alone.
    Best wishes
    Lou

    • Hi Lou,

      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear you’ve been troubled by these sleep disturbances for so long. Interesting that your doctor is talking about narcolepsy – do you fall asleep during the day at unwanted times too? And did they rule out any apnea type sleep disorders, as you mention gasping.
      It’s interesting that you filmed yourself. Does it appear that you move as much on the video as you feel like you do when having hypnic jerks?
      Hopefully you’ll get some peace though when your doctor has identified exactly what you have.
      You’re definitely not alone!
      All the best
      Ethan

  • I was not able to read through all of the comments, so I don’t know if anyone else has had a similar experience to mine. I became ill about 3 years ago. It turns out that I most likely have a severe allergic condition called MCAD (MCAD), as well as joint pain caused by inflammatory arthritis. The allergic reactions cause severe abdominal pain. In addition to other medications, I take several sedating meds: anti-histamines, pain medications- opioids and canaboids (Hydromirphone and nabilone), as well as clonidine (I am working on tapering off the Hydromirphone.). I have hypnic jerks that at times are so bad that I simply cannot sleep. Without a doubt, the more sedated/fatigued I am, the worse they are. I have found that two things help. The first is caffeine. A cup if coffee right before bed, and I would be off to sleep in minutes. The other thing that helps is sleeping in a recliner. I also went from ~2 hour chunks of sleep to ~6 hour chunks. I have not have a sleep study, yet, but I am assuming that I have some form of apnea (I am overweight, in my 40’s). It also feels to me like I am gasping for air as I startle awake. Thank-you for doing research in this area. Hypnic jerks definitely not ‘harmless’ for me. On one hand, it’s a vital protective mechanism (in my case anyway. Breathing is kinda important, and I think it’s good to have a warning system) It means that I have to sleep in a recliner in the living room, instead of our bed, and I’m pretty sure that sleeping in a recliner for 6 hours is better than sleeping in a bed for two, but sleeping in a bed for 6 hours would be even better…

    • Hi Karen,

      Thank you for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having such a torrid time sleeping. I would definitely recommend getting yourself checked out for apnea if you’re having breathing problems in your sleep. It could be that dealing with that helps the jerks you experience.
      I would also suggest telling your doctor about the jerking, and ask if any of your meds could be contributing to it. For example, some anti-histamines have been reported by other readers to make them much worse.
      All the best
      Ethan

    • I have had that gasping upon arousal for 2 years now along with jerks. It is NOT sleep apnea. Seems like it would be but it is not. I am on a CPAP and I can turn it all the way up and still gasp. It is an arousal of some sort. It is maddening.

  • I have been experiencing these jerks more frequently the last two years. I am 52 and my husband says I had them since the 80s. I have anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and snore. Everyday my sinus seems to clog up and i feel like i have a sore throat, my tonsils cut off airway when I sleep and blow my nose. I am seeing a Therapist for the anxiety. Today I had a mild attack in the bank. Everything started closing in on me, I started shaking and wanted to bolt out of there. I was on the verge of collapsing but held onto the pillars marking the line for next teller. I was still shaking while I talked with my Therapist. By the end of my appointment I was feeling a lot better. On the nights I can’t sleep I take half a zanax and I am positive the apnea and jerks don’t bother my sleep. My Therapist tells me I may need to get a sleep apnea test and hormone test due to my age. It has been 5 years since being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, take Paxil 2x a day. My goal is to be free if all medications.

    • Hi Genie,

      Thank for your comment, and that sounds like a very unpleasant experience in the bank. I do hope you manage to overcome the anxiety with the help of the therapist. It sounds like it could have been a panic attack, which is a horrible thing to go through.
      I would definitely also recommend speaking to your doctor to check if you have apnea, and if so what you need to do to manage it. And hopefully you will have found something useful in the article to try and reduce the hypnic jerks.
      All the best
      Ethan

      • Hi Genie; You’ve been doing like me, which is seeing the wrong type of doctors who prescribe meds to treat symptoms. (I’m a few years older than you). They didn’t get to the root cause of my hypnic (or myoclonic) jerks, etc. My other symptoms include ongoing insomnia and restless legs syndrome and sometimes numbness forearms. I’d also been getting the tremors at night off and on. I just recently saw an MD who is also a GYN and nutrition doctor. She prescribed 400 mg of magnesium since it’s hard to get enough from diet alone, sometimes even if you’re on a diet of whole organic foods. So I’ve been taking a Cal-Mag supplement. I rub magnesium oil on my lower legs which provides some relaxing relief. I’m also taking vitamin D3 (with vitamin K) supplement since my blood test shows deficiency. I also have low ferritin (iron stores) so she prescribed “Ferralet 90”, a tablet consisting of fiber, vitamin c and vitamin b12. She said I’m in beginning stage of being anemic. She also tests hormones levels and prescribes a light dose of bioidentical hormones if necessary. She’s also testing my melatonin and cortisol levels, that’s a saliva test. Sleeping with your head elevated (like a hospital bed) can help your breathing. I just got one and think it’s helping already. Like you, I’ve been taking a low does of a “benzo” but not zanax. They do help but are just another band aid fix. A wide variety of healthy foods (grass fed beef and organic produce if you can afford it) and consistent exercise may be all some people on here need, especially if you’re younger. I’ve been told that meditation or yoga can help too if you’re under too much stress.

        • Hi Sylvia,

          Thanks for this comment. I won’t reply any further as you have addressed this directly to the other reader. I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to give your advice in case they aren’t following the thread.
          Regards
          Ethan

      • Genie, oops, I meant to say that the “Ferralet 90” tablets are an iron with the additives to help with absorption, etc. Anyway, you’ve been suffering for way too long. I’ve been trying to get the right help for ongoing insomnia and nerve disorders for over 2 yrs now and just recently came across doctors who ran more extensive blood tests. A lot can be checked by saliva tests too which I think comes from alternative medicine. I plan to get off my “Benzo” fix which is a light dose of Clonazopam. It was prescribed to me by a neurologist and it does help for now.

  • Hello! I just wanted to leave a comment here to say that I, too, had been getting hypnic jerks when trying to sleep, and during April of 2014, I couldn’t sleep for almost 3 days straight because they were so bad. For a while, I used Ambien to get to sleep, but I didn’t want to use it long term, so I took the advice of others here to try magnesium. I no longer am having the jerks! I don’t know if it’s due to a deficiency or if it’s even a placebo effect, but I’ll take it either way. :) I have been taking one pill usually every other night, only started about a week ago. So far so good! I hope others are able to take care of this problem, as it’s maddening. I told my doctor about it, and they had absolutely no clue what I was talking about.

    • Hi Kaiserin,

      Thank you very much for your comment. It’s a particularly valuable comment because you are one of the first readers to say that you tried magnesium on the back of the advice from readers here and that it has worked. That makes me really happy to hear, as it gives me a feeling that the community which has developed in the comments on this article is making a difference to people’s lives. And that’s probably the best thing I could hope for:-)
      So thank you once again, and I hope others also find some help through the advice of previous readers. And of course that you continue to not be bothered by hypnic jerks.
      All the best
      Ethan

  • I’m going to try a regular sleep schedule as best I can. Another thing is a bedtime routine including relaxation exercises topped off with lotion on my feet and covering them with socks.:-) aahh – a simple luxury does wonders for my body and soul.

    • Hi Judy,

      Great – I hope it works out well for you. Remember it can take a couple of weeks to settle into a new routine and for both your body and mind to become accustomed to it. To stick with it even if at first it doesn’t seem to be having an effect.
      And yes, there’s nothing wrong with a little luxury, especially if it saves your sleep!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have been meaning to post more about magnesium so I’m glad to see it’s getting the attention it deserves.

    I have something along the lines of fibromyalgia without the pain, and according to my naturopath, my body is unable to hold on to nutrients so he gave me a series of vitamin injections that really helped the hypnic jerks even when I was still taking Benadryl that has that as a side-effect. Once I realized that, I went off it and they calmed right down, but in the last 6 weeks, they started up as bad as ever. Finally I got out one of my books on magnesium by Dr. Carloyn Dean and read that if you have any sort of myoclonus type jerking, it’s a sure sign that you’re deficient in magnesium.

    I immediately started using my magnesium oil and soaking in epsom salts as that’s the quickest, easiest method of increasing your cellular magnesium level. Within a day or two, the hypnic jerks were under control again!

    As Denise mentioned, meds can lower or inhibit your body’s ability to absorb magnesium. And those of us with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome are unable to absorb it properly as well as hold on to it. One article I came across in researching the role of magnesium and fibromyalig prostulated that it’s really caused by being deficient in various minerals including magnesium. I believe this as I know that I started improving as soon as I started taking magnesium.

    The tannins in black and green tea remove the minerals from your body according to Dr. Dean’s book. You also want to take the magnesium between meals with calcium, vitamins D3 and K. If you have low stomach acid [if you get bloated a lot, that’s a sure sign], you need to be taking a good betaine HCI supplement as the body has to have enough stomach acid to utilize both the magnesium and the calcium.

    There’s a great series on youtube about transdermal magnesium therapy by Dr. Mark Sircus that’s worth watching.

    After reading so many comments from younger readers in their teens and early 20s, I just would like to point out that if they aren’t on meds or doing other drugs that would interfer with their body’s ability to absorb magnesium, they need to look at their diet. The modern American diet of mostly processed foods is woefully deficient in every nutrient known to man, and most of the food won’t even mold! You need to get on a good nutritional program not only to stop the hypnic jerks, but because if you don’t, you’re going to end up with degenerative diseases by the time you’re having your family.

    • Hi Hayley

      Great to hear from you again, and thanks for posting such an informative comment, full of new ideas and further thoughts about magnesium. You are one of a few extremely helpful readers, so thank you!

      The idea of magnesium being an important factor in controlling hypnic jerks does seem to be a common theme here. I’m glad you’ve found out more about it, and also like Denise, are in a position to report back on the results of improving how much is in your body.

      I especially like the idea of looking at your diet. I don’t think that’s in the list of reader tips, so after publishing this post I am going to add it. I think you rightly point out something very important there, and logically if something is caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency, the first step should be to assess your current diet.

      Thanks once again and keep in touch!
      Ethan

  • Hi, although it is not a complete cure my hypnic jerks have decreased very significantly after taking 2 x 500mg of magnesium citrate every day. I have not had any side effects and have now been taking them for several months. It really does seem to take this long for them to make a difference.
    I also take Inositol twice a day and I do think this helps with anxiety.
    I tried magnesium spray, salts in the bath etc., but they made very little difference.
    One of the reasons why magnesium levels can be low I’d due to ACE inhibitors which I have been taking for many years.
    Please, anyone reading this, don’t despair, give the magnesium citrate a good trial. I hope you get results that help you with this very frightening affliction.
    Best regards,
    Denise

    • Hi Denise

      It’s great to hear from you again, and hear more about your on-going experiments. Thanks so much for staying in touch and giving this update. I have added your specifics about the quantity and type of magnesium to the reader’s tips section just now. Perhaps it will help someone else, even if it’s unlikely sadly to help everyone. But if just one person benefits, then it will be worth it.

      Let’s hope your hypnic jerk rate continues to decrease, and if you find anything else which helps, please do pop back.
      Stay in touch
      Ethan

  • Hi,
    I’m 32 male suffering from GAD and panic since adulthood, taking 10 mg of cipralex daily since last 7 years and my life went stable under control with minor anxiety.
    last year I had a relapse and my anxiety was high due to panic attacks and started to go afraid to bed fearing of not falling to sleep because of anxiety making me alert to not be able to sleep as i have work next day but after several attempts of calming my self i would sleep normal.
    then after couple of weeks and having this anxiety at bed I started to have this symptom the “Hypnotic jerk” it started to appear when am stressed at bed but at first it was not daily and frequent.

    now if negative thoughts takes over my mind even for a very short period like 10 seconds which triggers a start of a panic attack but I can control panic attacks immediately and don’t let it last for more than a few seconds but this leaves me alarmed and my sleepiness state will be affected so after this I try to sleep the jolt will happen very frequently and won’t let me sleep so I end up taking xanax after trying for two hours as i have work next day.

    some days I manage to be calm and can escape to sleep like a thief if negative thoughts didn’t hit me and would sleep even if the jerk hit me for couple of times..

    why this physical change came, iam facing this every time I’m stressed or anxious before bed the link between the anxiety and this jolt is very strong now as it like short circuited . as i used to sleep normally before with much higher anxiety at bedtime even without a single jolt what is changed in my mind!

    what is the way out of this as iam anxiety sufferer and this fuels it more and leaves me in this circle.
    am taking calcium magnesium supplement since two weeks the jolt is weaker but still the inner feeling that comes with the jolt make me wake.

    pls. help me..

    • Hi Baso,

      Thank you for your comment, and I am sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with such a high level of anxiety. Panic attacks are very unpleasant, and so I can understand how having hypnic jerks and sleeplessness on top of that must be stressful.
      I think you’re right about the possibility of a vicious circle making sleep problems worse. It’s amazing how worrying about not sleeping can itself become a primary reason for not sleeping well!
      Fortunately, I think that being aware of the cycle is the first step in controlling it and hopefully putting a stop to it.
      I can only suggest two things really – one is to tackle the hypnic jerks themselves, possibly trying out one or two of the techniques listed in the article.
      The other is to put lots of attention on your bedtime relaxation routine, assuming you have one. And if you don’t, try creating one! You can find out more about developing a good bedtime routine here.
      Other than that, you could try something I’ve been doing recently and finding very helpful, as I also sometimes have problems with anxiety and insomnia. I’ve been researching new guided meditation videos for our relaxation secion, and so every night I’ve been going on youtube and playing a different recording to see if it helps me go to sleep. And I’m glad to say that some of them have been very helpful and effective! If you just search for ‘guided meditation sleep’ then you’ll find lots you can try until you find a voice and a technique that works for you. It’s worth a try!
      All the best
      Ethan

  • I get exactly this, however it only ever happens when I am flying on a plane, as soon as I fall asleep, about 30 seconds later I will jump awake, and when it’s a 9 hour night flight it is realllllllllllllllllllllllllly annoying!

  • Hi Ethan, thanks as always for all your suggestions and tips. Just wanted to update and say I’ve had some luck with taking valerian root before bed. It puts me in a nice relaxed mood, especially when listening to mellow music or doing deep breathing exercises. It doesn’t completely get rid of the jerks at night but it muffles them so they’re not so intense and can help give me that extra little boost to help fall asleep. It seems to work better when I combine it with a some l’arginine, I’m not sure why. And unlike alcohol and benzos it gives you good REM sleep; I have crazy dreams when I take it. It smells awful but taking it in capsule form makes this not a problem. From what I’ve read about it it seems pretty safe with few side effects, definitely compared to benzos. I’m trying to find some alternatives to clonazepam, though i still have to resort to that some nights. Hope someone else finds this useful.

    • Hi Ben,

      Nice to hear from you again. I’m really pleased to hear you’ve found something which seems to be helping a little. Perhaps in time it’ll become even more successful as an alternative and you get into the pattern of trying something natural. I think the effects of doing relaxation exercises can be cumulative, so the more you do them, the more they help over the long run. That’s what I’ve found personally. Keep at it and it would be great to hear back from you in the future if you’ve been continuing to try these kind of remedies.
      All the best
      Ethan

  • I just wanted to follow up on how I have been dealing with this and plan on trying to deal with this. The first few nights it has caused me to have an anxiety attack and I relied on alprazolam to get me to sleep. I noticed one day I was completely anxiety free and fell sleep just fine with no jerks. If I can get my anxiety under control I think this can be resolved.

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your comments, and sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with several different things. I think your analyses could well be accurate, though it’s hard to say of course.
      But on the surface, anxiety and stress are known to possibly exacerbate hypnic jerks. And both Magnesium and Calcium are also thought to play a part.
      So I think working on your anxiety could be helpful. How you go about doing that is of course a different matter! Have you considered trying a taking therapy? It can be really helpful for anxiety. And if you like the self-help route, you could always look into Mindfulness techniques. You can search online for more about it.
      And if you want some ideas of things you can do just before going to bed, or even in bed, then take a look at this section about relaxation techniques for sleep.
      All the best and I hope you manage to make progress with it.
      Ethan

  • I recently started experiencing hypnic jerks. When I first started getting them I was dealing with esophagitis and sinusitis at the same time. During this time I had, and still have anxiety. At first I attributed it to the antihistamines but it still happened off the antihistamines. I am on prilosec 20mg everyday to manage my acid reflux. The prilosec decreases the absorption of calcium and magnesium.

    The hypnic jerks could be from one of two things. Anxiety/Fatigue or low Magnesium and Calcium in my case.

  • I am 66 years old and have experienced these involuntary body movements for about 3 years. They started when I was having treatment for severe headaches and, although I have now seen a neuro surgeon, they have got more regular. The NS thought they could be SLEEP JERKS and said they were quite common and advised not to have treatment but live with them. He said they may have been brought on by medication I was on at the time, AMITRIPTYLINE and advised I should come off them and see what happens. I did this but they continued , also had a head scan which was clear. My experience only happens when I am relaxing, within seconds of closing my eyes these movements happen. They can be nodding or head movements, mouth opening wide, arms or legs flying into the air or a combination of any. They last for seconds but if I relax and close my eyes again they will happen again. Not sure if they happen when I am actually sleeping as they happen during the daytime.
    Fortunately these jerks do not happen whilst I am moving about. I am aware of having them and often smile because I must look so funny. Wishing all other ‘sufferers’ well.
    kind regards
    Theresa

    • Hi Theresa

      Thanks for your comment, and it sounds like you’ve learned to deal with hypnic jerks in exactly the same way as me – by seeing the funny side. I know not everyone can because it’s so disruptive to their sleep, but I think if you’re able to, then that can help a lot with reducing the stress they can incur.
      Do they happen during the night as well, or only during the daytime for you? And when you say relaxing, do you mean with your eyes shut, or just doing relaxing activities?
      Regards
      Ethan

      • Again exactly what I have and most of us have. You are one of the few to mention your mouth opening, mine does the same along with every other part of my body at one time or another.. Lately my thumb has been moving..And waking me up of course. The shoulder is a big one when they are bad..And the sit up like you are tightening your stomach. I do know women report these as they go through menopause. I must say mine started when I got on testosterone therapy also but remained after I quit abruptly..

  • Hiya I had a operation to stop my period and had a heart attack during it since then I’ve suffered with the jerk could the heart attack cause them many thanks Bren

    • Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m terribly sorry to hear you’ve had such a difficult chain of events happen. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know the answer to that question. I think you’d need to talk to your own doctor and see what they think. But if it happened at the same time, then I can see your logic in thinking it’s connected. Have you also been under a lot of stress or anxiety because of what happened? I wonder if even that could perhaps contribute to it.
      I hope it resolves though, whatever the initial cause.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I have had hypnic jerks my whole life, just about every single time I go to bed, sometimes at the computer (annoying when I fling the mouse across the room), and with various effects.
    Most of the time it is my whole body, but sometimes it is only one limb.
    What it feels like is an electric shock, or a huge kick of adrenaline, kind of a cool-temperature sensation like drinking cool mountain water out of a stream or breathing in fresh, cool air. If I could attach any sort of emotion to it, I’d say it is a happy or joyous feeling, like a spark of life.
    That is why I completely disagree with those who want to say it is because of a dream of falling or similar. There is NO dread or fear associated with my spasms.
    I only slightly fear a hypnic jerk, similarly to how one fears getting a static electric shock. I know it won’t hurt me, but that it could surprise me.
    Generally, before I have a HJ I will feel wound up tight as a spring. Then when I have this spasm it is like something snaps, and I instantly feel less tension. Sometimes it takes several ‘snaps’ before I sleep, but then I will sleep very well, with no more tension. In fact I’d say that they ALWAYS relieve tension.
    I have worked a rotational 12-hour schedule since I was 25, and I’m now 54 years old, so yes, my sleep is irregular and I drink lots and lots of coffee and caffeine drinks.
    I hope this input helps someone.

    • Hi Gordon,

      Thank you for your comment, and it’s always good to hear from someone that has managed to find a way to cope with a sleep issue in a positive way. I agree that it doesn’t have to be associated with fear or dread. But for some people it unfortunately is, and that’s just their experience.
      But I think you’re right in distinguishing between the worry about something bad happening and the worry of being surprised. Even now with the knowledge that I have of them, I sometimes get quite a big surprise when they happen. It doesn’t induce fear, but there is definitely a moment when it feels like a little surge of adrenalin kicks in with the jerk, especially if it’s an unusually big one.
      But as always I laugh it off, roll over and fortunately don’t tent to have too many repeats in one night.
      It’s interesting what you say about it being a tension relief. That’s something I’ve not thought of before. And perhaps thinking about it that way might help some people.
      Thanks again for sharing your story.
      All the best
      Ethan

    • ANY caffeine will set them off big time. I think you are lucky you fall asleep after a few. Many of us are up all night. And after a certain age I think your body will not process the caffeine as fast. If I have a cup at breakfast Ill jerk out of the bed that night.

  • There really is something to taking calcium for Hypnic jerks. My Doctor advised me to take 1200mg daily for a deficiency and i read an article about taking calcium 2 hours before bed will improve quality of sleep. After a short time of doing this my sleep improved and have no jerks or twitches after suffering for a year of violent head to toe jerks for up to 2 hours trying to fall asleep. Hope this helps.

    • Hi Tracey

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m really pleased to hear you found a way to stop what sounds like very bad hypnic jerks. I think the Calcium and Magnesium theory is coming up time and time again, so there is growing evidence from readers that it can help. So thanks for adding another thumbs up for the possibility that it could help.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • One jolt wow. I have about 60 a night when it’s bad over and over and over upon waking and going to sleep. Which red pill has helped if I can ask . I am trying clonazepam now seems to be helping. Also Xanax er works but it will take away libido. In me any way.

    • Hi there,

      Sorry to hear you have such a problem with hypnic jerks. I’ll leave it for the previous poster to reply to your question, if they are following the comments. Hopefully you might find something that helps in the article as well. If you can find a natural way to deal with it rather than taking strong medication, then that’s of course a better option. Let us know if you find anything which helps!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • I had these happen to me for decades before I figured out what was wrong with my parents and upbringing. In a nutshell it was unidentified anxiety (causing adrenal spiking) as a result of being raised by a narcissist mother and psychopathic father.Parents like mine instilled a ton of brainwashing and undealt with childhood trauma in my subconscious. I have only had one “jolt” since taking the red pill and healing (still dealing with slight PTSD) from the trauma.

    • Hi Curt

      Thanks for your comment, especially as it such a personal one. You’re not the first person to talk about trauma being a potential trigger for increased hypnic jerks. The anxiety or stress that this can cause may well lead to experiencing more hypnic jerks than most people, or being more sensitive to them.
      I’m glad to hear that things are improving for you though. That’s the most important thing!
      Regards
      Ethan

  • 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

  • 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

      • Try ‘Full Catastrophe Living’. It’s written by Jon Kabhat-Zinn. He was one if the ‘founders’ of mindful meditation. It will teach you how to ‘turn off your brain’. Very, very different from what I had expected, and far less ‘new age’ than I was expecting. I highly recommend it.,good luck!

        • Thanks for that suggestion. I’m a big fan of mindfulness, and can also attest to the fact that it’s not as new age as many people associate with anything which involves meditation!
          Ethan

  • 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

      • Jay; I’ve been getting these snapping sounds in my head as I’m starting to doze off and my research reveals that EHS is the closest description to what I have.
        First time I experienced this repetitive jerking awake with snapping sound in the head was last June while taking tramadol pain medication for bladder pain. I only took it for a few days until another medication solved the problem. Anyway, I’d also been having ongoing insomnia and numbness problems for many months prior so my system is sensitive to about anything.
        Sometimes, these sounds are loud, sometimes soft (type of noise varies too) and sometimes comes right in unison with a strong or weak myoclonic (or hypnic) jerk. I had an MRI of my brain and neck that came back negative. My neurologist prescribed a light dose of Clonazopam which I’ve been taking 4-5 x a week as needed. Sometimes I can fall asleep in front of the TV without it. Anyway, I’m hoping to get rid of all this by working with a nutrition MD who recently prescribed treatment for my low ferritin (iron stores), low vitamin d (5000 iu every day), and magnesium (400 mg) supplements.
        I’m also pre diabetic so she said to stay off of sweets, cereal and bread (low carb). Hoping all this will help to get rid of it in the next few months. Takes time.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

      • 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

  • 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

  • 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

      • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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?

    • 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

  • 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

      • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

    • 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

  • 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

    • 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.

      • 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 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    • I’ve been experiencing hypnic jerks while falling asleep for several months now, also have had sleep deprivation for over 2 yrs and other sleep and nervous system issues. Just want to say that 3 or 4 mos. ago I was trying to take naps when it’s always been hard for me to fall asleep during the day. I tried meditation in the mid-afternoon, got real comfortable and dropped off briefly, only to be woken up with this half snort sound. So I quit trying to take a nap. I think it’s just another type of “sleep start” where it gets off course. I’ve saw comments by an MD regarding this. He said it may caused from entering into the wrong stage of sleep right away, like REM sleep. That makes sense with my experience of going into a dream right away. There’s a lot about sleep that clinics are still puzzling over.
      I’ve done some reading about sleep disorders and insomnia on Dr. Breus, Dr. Mercola, and Dr. Oz websites.

  • 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

    • 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…..

  • 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

  • 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

      • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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..!!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    • 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.

    • 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

  • 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

  • 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

      • 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

    • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

      • 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.

        • I started experiencing these about 6 months ago and was getting NO sleep the first week because of it. I went to a neurologist who prescribe medication that did help. With prayer to Jesus I was able to go months without needing any medicine and am sleeping great. Truly a miracle from God

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

      • I FOUND OUT WHAT CAUSED MY REPETITVE HYPNIC JERKS!

        I have histamine intolerance. As soon as I cut out the foods that my body had trouble dealing with (pretty much anything aged or cured plus some fruits/veggies like aubergine, tomato and strawberries and also wine etc plus some other stuff), repetitive hypnic jerks are gone, for more than a month now. My sleepless nights are gone (and I hope they stay gone!). What a relief. I really hope other’s will find help to their condition too. The last 10 months have been extremely difficult and I’ve been depressed, but getting adequate sleep and not getting these jerks one after another every night has brought back a smile on my face!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

      • 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

  • 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

      • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    • 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.

  • 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

      • 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!!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 :-)

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

        • 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.

  • 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

    • 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.

          • 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:-)

    • 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

  • 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

      • 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

        • 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.

          • 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. . .

    • 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

    • 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

      • 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

        • 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

          • 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

        • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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?

      • 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

  • 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

      • 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

  • 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

    • 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!

        • Try soaking in epsom salts for about 20 minutes and see if that helps. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, and I’ve found that my hypnic jerks are mostly related to low magnesium levels–my naturopath says my body doesn’t hold on to nutrients. If I focus on taking enough magnesium every day, my hypnic jerks stay at a minimum, and I generally get enough sleep to feel decent, but if I don’t, I’m up all night with them, and can’t sleep to save myself.

          Your body needs calcium and magnesium in a ratio of 1:1. You also need to take vitamin D3 and K along with it so everything can be absorbed properly. Besides soaking in epsom salts, you can apply magnesium oil to your body for 20 minutes or until you can’t stand it. Both soaking in epsom salts and using magnesium oil are quicker ways to elevate your cellular magnesium level than taking oral supplements.

          Magnesium oxide, the most common and cheapest form of magnesium is very poorly absorbed so avoid that if at all possible. Only about 3% of what you take is absorbed, and the rest is shunted to the gut where it causes diarrhea. Oral magnesium chloride doesn’t have the laxative effect to the degree other forms do. Magnesium citrate is easily absorbed but has a fair laxative effect so be sure and start off slowly with it. Most people who are low in magnesium are also constipated so it often helps normalize the function of the GI tract.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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:-)

  • 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?

      • Haha, that was fun to read! My guess is he was dreaming about tripping. I’ve had that too – dreaming about running along a hall or something, before randomly backflipping into a hypnic jerk and laying wide awake in my bed. I always burst into a laugh afterwards – not fun for anybody else around me though.

  • 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