Hypnic Jerks: How To Avoid Waking With A Jolt

cartoon of a man having a hypnic jerkHave you ever woken up with a sudden jolt just as you’re falling asleep? Maybe it felt like one arm or leg suddenly had a strong spasm or twitch?

Perhaps you’ve woken suddenly with the sensation of falling, bouncing or even an unpleasant shock sensation that left you feeling surprised or anxious.

It may have even been your partner experiencing it, and their own jolting movement startled you back to consciousness. If this sounds familiar, it could be that that you’ve experienced hypnic jerks.

A common occurrence

You’re certainly not alone in experiencing this strange nighttime sensation; it’s estimated that 60% to 70% of people experience hypnic jerks at some point in their lives, including me!

This article will help you understand what hypnic jerks are a little better, and hopefully help put your mind at ease if you’re worried about them. You’ll also find lots of advice for dealing with hypnic jerks, both from professionals and previous readers.

Different names

The terminology in the world of sleep can be confusing at time. So it’s worth bearing in mind that hypnic jerks are sometimes referred to by different names:

  • Sleep starts.
  • Night 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 are hypnic jerks exactly?

The latest International Classification of Sleep Disorders manual describes hypnic jerks as follows:

Sleep starts, also known as hypnic jerks, are sudden, brief, simultaneous contractions of the body or one or more body segments occurring at sleep onset. Sleep starts (or hypnic jerks) usually consist of a single contraction that often affects the body asymmetrically. The jerks may be either spontaneous or induced by stimuli.

So hypnic jerks are the involuntary twitching of one or more muscles. They usually occur just as you’re falling asleep, during what’s known scientifically as the hypnagogic state of consciousness.

They usually occur asymmetrically, which is why it often feels like just one arm suddenly jolts. And they can occur independently or in response to an external stimuli in the bedroom, such as your partner moving or making noise.

Interestingly, the muscle twitching you experience also occurs in other situations, for example with hiccups.

Accompanying sensations

Some people will only experience the physical muscle twitching; others might have a sensory component, which can be quite distressing:

  • The feeling of falling.
  • The sensation of pain or tingling.
  • An unusual noise, such as a large bang or crackling.
  • Flashing or unusual lights.
  • Hallucinations.

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 can be accompanied by bizarre or frightening hallucinations and even out-of-body experiences.

Even though hypnic jerks and those other strange sleep experiences aren’t dangerous, they can be disruptive to your sleep and quite unsettling.

So even though they aren’t technically anything to worry about, they can sometimes cause anxiety and insomnia if you worry about them and/or become afraid to go to sleep.

Hypnic jerks survey results

In 2016 I conducted a short survey for readers to share their experience of hypnic jerks. With thousands of people participating, the results provide an interesting insight into how hypnic jerks affect people.

Poll 1

In the graph below you can see how often people experience hypnic jerks. It’s interesting to note that many of the people who searched for this article experience them on a daily basis.

graph showing how often people experience hypnic jerks in the reader pollPoll 2

An interesting point arising from poll 2 is that many people find hypnic jerks affect their sleep quite badly. However, there are also many who only have some initial disruption, or none at all.

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

It appears clear in poll 3 that many people feel stress or anxiety makes their hypnic jerks worse.

This is a factor which appears many times in the hundreds of comments readers have left below. So it could be that tackling stress or anxiety is a good idea 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 hypnic jerks?

So now you know that hypnic jerks are 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 completely sure of the cause. However, they do believe that the following factors can all contribute to hypnic jerks happening:

  • Caffeine or other stimulants
  • Alcohol
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Heavy physical exercise or work
  • Sleeping in an uncomfortable position
  • Being very tired or sleep deprived

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 hypnic jerks might happen when nerves misfire during this slowing down process, resulting in the muscular spasm.

Or as the International Classfication of Sleep Disorders states:

Hypnic jerks are hypothetically caused by sudden descending volleys originating in the brainstem reticular formation activated by the system instability at the transition between wake and sleep. However, the similarity between sleep starts and the startle response has led some to postulate that abnormalities of sensory processing are primary, with secondary motor manifestations involving the reticulospinal tract.

2. A second theory postulated by some is that hypnic jerks occur in response to the common occurrence of sleep hallucinations or the onset of dream imagery. Perhaps this explains why people sometimes feel like they are falling.

3. An 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?

A 2015 review into hypnic jerks by researchers at the University of Alabama raised an important point – hypnic jerks could in some cases be a characteristic of another illness.

So although they are benign for most people, if you have them regularly and/or severely, you might want to raise it with your primary care doctor to be sure it’s not a sign of another condition. Some of the possibilities they suggest in the review are:

  • Noctural seizures
  • Nonepileptic seizures
  • Other parasomnias
  • Hyperekplexia
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
  • Periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS)
  • Excessive fragmentary myoclonus
  • Psychiatric diagnosis

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 to 4 hours before going to bed.
  • Reduce how much heavy exercise or work you do in the evening.
  • 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.
  • Try not to allow yourself to get too tired or fatigued. You may understandably have a very busy and tiring lifestyle. But it’s important to give yourself enough time to sleep well.

Avoid the vicious cycle of worry

Hypnic jerks can trigger a vicious cycle of worry if you become fixated on them. This is a common thing that happens with many sleeping difficulties.

For example, people who have insomnia for a few nights might 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.

If you worry about hypnic jerks unnecessarily, you might start to get less sleep and become more fatigued. But both anxiety and fatigue are thought to contribute to the frequency of hypnic jerks, so the vicious cycle begins.

You now know that occasional hypnic jerks are very common, so hopefully you can relax about them. I know the earlier list of other possible illnesses might be a cause for concern now. If it is, talk to your doctor about it to get some reassurance and peace of mind.

But for the majority of people, the key is not to allow the occasional hypnic jerk to disrupt your sleep any more than it has to. Try to relax, forget about it and go back to sleep.

Readers’ tips and techniques to stop hypnic jerks

In the comments below, many previous readers 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 scientific evidence to back them up. It’s simply a list of anecdotal ideas that may or may not help.

  • Try to see the funny side. Many readers have said that they just laugh them off.
  • 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. A reader reported that after several months of taking 2 x 500 mg 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 drink alcohol, coffee or energy drinks for a week and see if it improves.
  • Don’t stress about it, as worrying makes it worse.
  • Try to deal with major stress in your life – many people say hypnic jerks are much worse when they feel stressed.
  • If you suffer from anxiety, take steps to tackle this in your daily life.
  • Drink cayenne pepper tea (I suggest doing some research into this first).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Try apple cider vinegar. It’s used as a hiccup remedy, so might help with hypnic jerks too.

Your views

(please read before leaving a comment)

After nearly 4 years of replying to comments, I’ve decided to hand the discussion over to you, the reader. I’ll still personally read them all, and reply if necessary, but I won’t be able to reply in depth due to time constraints.

It’s always very interesting to hear your experiences, and I know many readers have benefited from reading the stories and advice of others.

So please keep your comments, tips and theories coming. And if you have any practical ideas for dealing with hypnic jerks, I’ll continue to add them to the list of readers’ suggestions.

Leave a comment >>


968 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hi everyone,
    Everybody should seriously consider C.B.D oil. 2 / 3 drops under the tongue 2 hours before sleep. You may still experience the “ jumps “ but the adrenal response doesn’t seem to materialise after. This is the underlying problem , almost more than the actual jerks and jumps themselves. As the response to them makes them worse. It’s almost like it’s a cycle. As the emotion reduces , so does the anxiety response. Then it just becomes a “ thing “ which one can live with. Although in my case it’s reduced every now and again. And even when I does , I’ve made friends with it. Remember, what we think about , we hold hands with.

  • I had, for the first time ever, a tremendous “jolt” that actually shook my body and the bed. The jolt was somewhat the same as seen in using shock to start the heart. The body ‘jumps”. I have a pacemaker so I sent a transmission to my cardiologist to see if it should the event or something. The answer was no evidence of anything–no skipped beat or A-fib. I was extremely shaky and frightened, my blood pressure was high. Of course there was no answer–I have some of my own theories > I recently, 2 days prior had abdominal surgery. I don’t think the anesthesia was totally out of my system. I didn’t think about Benadryl until I read your article. I had taken several doses for an allergic reaction. Maybe that and the anesthesia was the culprit. I live alone so don’t know if I snore. Very strange malady —hope it doesn’t happen again. Is this kind of hard jolt common?

  • I am a 51.5 year old African American female that is menopausal and experience Hypnos jerks but don’t know to do about them. I often become afraid and anxious prior to bed time! May I add that I have also been diagnosed with sleep apnea! Are there any possibilities of me ever experiencing a good quality of sleep again?

    • What everyone is experiencing with these hypnic jerks is a demonic attack. Whether you believe in demonic attacks or not,I assure you that is exactly what is happening. I experienced them for a while and still do on occasion. One way that stops them every single time is to play a spiritual song, entitled ” nothing but the blood of Jesus.”… I can usually feel the presence in my bedroom when they are getting ready to happen. I go to YouTube and play that song a few times in a row and it works every time in stopping the hypnic jerks. You can also pray for protection before you go to bed asking the father to please protect you from these attacks with the blood of Jesus. There is a website I think it’s called play on repeat. Com, where it will play the same song over and over. Try playing that song for yourself and you will see that it will stop the attacks. Praise God.

  • im currently struggling with central sleep apnea. i don’t even get to the point of snoring for my brain to jolt me up. the jolts are not fun, they are in the form of explainable nerve spasms that take place in my spine and sometimes radiate simultaneously as well as randomly through my upper body. they speed up my heart rate as well and have overtime given me such bad insomnia i’m having a hard time performing motor skills during the day. just had a sleep study last night and the cpap seem to get rid of the jerks during my split study. wish me luck

  • Two things… I have been on Effexor for a few years and about a year ago I had the prescription increased slightly. After that I experienced crazy night starts. They were quite random, but I thought that perhaps they were related to Effexor. But, if I’d choose night starts over Effexor, I choose night starts.
    I also noticed during this time that I mostly get the night starts during PMS. I’m also close to 50 and peri-menopausal. Now I wonder if it’s more hormonal than anything? But recently the night starts have gotten quite intense. Last night it felt like an electric shock, with bright flash of light and I woke up pounding the bed with my hand (3 times… as always seems to be the case). It was intense and they seem to just keep getting more intense.

  • In my opinion there is a definite difference Hypnic jerks and restless leg syndrome. I have experienced hypnic jerks all my life and most recently have developed restless leg syndrome which not only is a jerk but is a volcanic corruption of the entire body resulting in severe sleep disorder. my neurologist simply does not understand the difference between the two physical reactions. He treats me with requip which is successful but does not give me enough to keep under control for 12 or 24 hours I take 2 mg every 6 hours but it wears off every 4 hours. I would be interested to know if anyone has had similar confusion between these two conditions

  • I think mine is anxiety related. I am afraid of sleeping too deeply, out of fear of not hearing or not waking up when someone might be trying to break into the house. Subconsciously, I am afraid of sleeping. The moment my brain realises i am falling asleep, I panic and jerk myself awake forcefully. This happens every time I try to sleep, together with constant muscle twitches. Any sudden noises give me such a fright, that it triggers the fight-or-flight response from which I recover very slowly. The result of all this is Pseudo-insomnia. I am so weary of this. Don’t know how to fix it. I fear that sleeping aids might make it worse.

  • I’ve always had sleep onset insomnia. Then migraines starting around 25 years old. I’m 43 now and I guess I had them almost daily. I started taking remeron at the end of 2017, it helped me fall asleep and stay asleep, and no more migraines. But I get painful twitches before sleep now. They were never painful before. So I came to the internet for answers only to find it’s just theoretical. But I do want to say that a lot of those suggestions are just good life habits to have.

  • Could I get some feedback as to the situation and frequency for all os us suffering or who have suffered? I have experienced the traditional hypnic jerk when falling asleep. The tripping or falling dream just when you first fall asleep. These to me feel normal and common. It might have happened once a week for the last 20years for me. However a different version reared their ugly head in the beginning of November. These have an electric like feeling that generates in my stomach/heart area. These also don’t let up when they kick in. Every time I drift off it is like the paddles are on me and I am jolted awake. It can go on for hours until my body is so exhausted it gives in. Then after a few hours sleep I am awake and the cycle repeats or I just get up. I did have a major change in anxiety when these fired up. However I have been working had for two months and have made some major advancements in my anxiety levels but am still suffering 1 night a week of continuous jolts. I am under the care of a neurologist and on gabapentin and baclofen for 3 weeks but they are still happening. I was dooped into these meds as I want to handle this as naturally as possible as that is where I saw my biggest gains. Any insight is appreciated.

    • Wow Nate the exact same thing happens to me, has also only been for a few months. I agree this is nothing like the tripping, falling dream … very different, also starts in the stomach/heart area then a huge jolt into the air sometimes my back arches, it is becoming really scary. I did have dengue shock syndrome a couple of years ago. I did not realise this affects so many people.

  • I have full body spasms on awakening, which are quite frightening, and I am definitely awake after one of these! The short hypnic jerks at night are more disturbing, difficult to fall back to sleep, even these are quite mild compared to the morning spasms. I am taking gabapentin in quantity for chronic pain, so I had just assumed this was a side-effect of this epilepsy-related medication. Has anyone else experienced this with gabapentin?

    • Hi Michelle- I was just put on gabapentin 3 weeks ago in an effort to get rid of the jerking/electricity feeling that can keep me awake all night. While on it I have slept ok for some nights but there have been 2 night (one being last night) in which every time I drift off I am kicked back awake. I have been suffering from this since around Thanksgiving. I was given lorazepam which helped for about 3 weeks. When I say helped I determined it sedated me most nights enough to sleep through them. By the third week it wasn’t doing it and I wanted to be done on benzodiazepines. I then used cbd oil which again provided some relief. Not a perfect track record but good. Around New Years I was sick so I started using NyQuil. That too worked for about 8days with one bad night. That brought me to my neurologist apt and the last 3 weeks of gabapentin and baclofen. I have a follow up next week and am at a loss. I have read gabapentin and baclofen can be harder to come off of than benzodiazepines which doesn’t make me excited as I feel why stay on these if it is still happening. I like many others don’t know if it is a physical issue, mental/emotional issue or both. I do know it doesn’t make any sense and I am plenty sick of it,

      • I have this happen to me at least a few times a week. It’s like being jolted awake just as you start falling off. It’s aweful, scares me to death every time

        • Im same Lou ,every afternoon ,i hate it my dr has no ideas ,maybe its a baby boomer thing ..im also on medication for pain plus c.o.p.d dont know if thats why i get them sic of it..stay well..

      • I left a comment ding I take Gabapentin. I take Baclofen, also. And I have this jerks…mainly when I’m sleep deprived and have taken Adderall (prescribed) that day.

    • gabapentin can cause lot of neuro problems for some – I thought my husband was developing dementia- until he had an MRi scan- he tapered off slowly and switched to pregabalin -please consult your GP- what suits one person dosnt always suit another

    • Yes, I take Gabapentin. I didn’t relate my jerks to Gaba, but you are the second person in just a handful of responses that mentioned this. Hmmm…….

  • Ive had it for 3-4 years on and off. This last year i have had max 2 sleepless nights. Im sure the Jerks comes as a consequence of nervousness/anxiety. The big game changer for me: i realized that the Jerks are a mechanism to get rid of nervousness and allowing sleep. They are actually coming to help with the sleep transition. They are good not bad. For more than two years i saw Them as bad for my sleep, and i feared Them, which increased anxiety. When the Jerks Came my Heart pounded and recurring thought of not getting any sleep that night ultimately leading to my demise ruled. Now i understand that its only natural that i did not get Any sleep because of These dreadful thoughts that continuously built Up anxiety in me . IT was a vicious spiral. I broke this spiral… Now i may get the Jerks sometimes but i see them as a good thing, as a helping mechanism, and i quickly fall asleep. Within seconds/minutes. Today i can sleep 8-9 hours with ease. I am so thankful that i Came to this realization. I recieved No constructive help from my doctors, only pills… I totally support the suggestions about good nutrition and hydration, but in the end its a mind game. Anxiety dehydrates.. if you loose the anxiety the risk of dehydrating also decreases.. its all connected.. i Hope my story can inspire you to break the negative spiral.

    • It does! Many of these forums don’t include success stories! It is unfortunate and discouraging. I too have only been thrown prescriptions which have only masked it for a short time then another night of hell.
      Can I ask when you get/got these were they just a jerk or was there this jolting electric feeling that was with it?

      • They varied in intensity.. Some very mild some really shock-like. Often they came from the centre of my body. There was a couple of nights where i noticed that sometimes the jerks came from some areas in my body that were extra tense. E.g. if my arm was positioned awkwardly. Slowly, I came to realize that the jerks are HELPING me if I learn to see them that that way. The jerks are a bodily mechanism to get rid of the tension. If I see them as bad then all that happens is even more terror and fear… and more jerks… and more terror.. endlessly… At my worst (1,5 months after my initial experience) I spend a couple of nights at the mental institution.. I have been to that dark place but there is light at the other side.. My experience has helped a couple of other people who have contacted me, so its not just speculation. It does however take time to mentally adjust.

  • Wow were do I start I’m a 35 year old male ive had this most of my life I even have distant memories of these as a child, its not the jerk what wakes me that bothers me that much it’s the fight or flight feeling that comes with mine and no amount of positive thinking stops that adrenaline from being released it can’t be healthy to have your heart go from zero to one hundred multiple times a night thousands of times a year – add that to the strain it puts on work and relationship plus the fact you don’t get enough REM sleep which is important for healthy brain function I’m worried as ****, I’ve never taking sleeping tablets as I’ve always been scared of them, so I’m asking anyone on here who takes sleeping tablets when you do take them do you still have the jerks just as you fall asleep whilst taking the tablets because this scares me with the heart being un naturally slowed and then the adrenalin release. Can’t be good !! and one more thing if you could have one answer from the product to the tablet that really has made a positive please answer below .


    • I have hypnic jerk for a few years and it took me at least 2 to 3 hours to fall asleep. Recently, I come across TRE which is trauma release exercise and have been practising it everyday. When you search the internet, there are many ways to practise TRE but I choose one that is easy to follow and I spend about 10 minutes on TRE.
      The hypnic jerk is still there but I am able to fall asleep within 1 hour.

    • These can happen many times due to an excess of norepinephrine, which can cause weird and sometimes frightening things to happen with our mind and body.
      The first step, to get us out of running on norepinephrine is by switching our brain chemistry to running on serotonin and then dopamine. The unusual thing about this is we can actually change our brain chemistry without drugs, herbs, or other potions.
      1. To move from norepinephrine to serotonin do one or more of the following – Lie on the floor for a few moments, or do some light fiction reading, or listen to soothing music, or do some coloring or work some simple puzzles, or go for a mild walk outside.
      2. Then once your starting to feel a bit better, to move from serotonin to dopamine do one or more of the following: Read educational or philosophical books, or listen to upbeat music, or laugh, or watch comedies, work more challenging puzzles, or do strength exercises or tai chi, or get a massage, or do creative projects, or do things with your non-dominant hand, or learn something new, or go someplace new.
      3. To take it one more step –
      a. Make a list of 10 things you really like to do.
      b. Next, narrow that list down to your top five.
      c. Then your top two
      d. Finally pick your top one.
      e. Then write a story describing that person who is doing that thing and all the things they would be experiencing while doing that thing, including the qualities that person has.
      f. Answer the question – Who would I be if I lived this quality 24/7 (Write this from the perspective of this character.)
      If you have questions, please feel free to let me know. I hope that this can be of value for you to use.

  • In my case , hypnic jerk happen to me many times …for some reasons its happen to me when I jogging , push up, read or even talk .every day . I am a debater in my High school , kind of embarassing when I throw out my opinion but suddenly this hypnic jerk came and I almost forget what to said….Hope I can get suggestion from the experts….please help me and replay this comment

    • Yes I was on klonopin for 10 years. Got taken off of it 6 months ago and started getting hypnic jerks and scaring the crap out of myself hen I’m sleeping. I scared myself when I suddenly saw a hand and it was my hand!

  • I’ve struggled with hypnic jerk and feel that I’ve overcome it – at least for now. I truly believe it can be conquered but will take diligence on your part. I’m still not sure if it’s: 1) triggered by the brain, sending a misfired neuron, causing the muscle to twitch, or 2) triggered by muscle tension that twitches when your muscles relax going from consciousness to unconsciousness; or could be due to both. Here’s my remedies that address both causes: 1) for the brain, need more serotonin by taking 5HTP supplements (50 mg), 6 mg melatonin, 400 ashwaganda; 2) for muscles, 600 mg magnesium citrate, 400 calcium, 1000 mg vitamin C, don’t exercise late at night, use muscle foam roller on the legs before sleep, and 15 minutes of stretching/deep breathing prior to sleep. Also, stop taking meds, even over-the-counter stuff like antihistamines, drink plenty of water throughout the day, no caffeine, yoga or walking daily to reduce stress, regular sleep schedule. This may seem like a lot of work, and it is, but you can overcome hypnic jerk. Good luck, I know what you’re going through.

  • Stress and anxiety contributes significantly. I am also beginning to think ailments such as malaria could also increase the occurrence of these jerks.

  • I’m not certain my experience completely qualifies as hypic jerks or whether my dystonia is exacerbating the reactions. I was diagnosed with dystonia over 20 years ago. I experienced a semi-remission period with adjustment of diet to organic. A couple years later, I noticed a slow uptick in symptoms, then the “hypnic jerks” started. The difference is mine are usually symmetrical. It started with a couple shoulder shrugs, then I’d fall asleep. I took it as a good sign. Now, they’ve gotten extremely bad (and so has the daytime components of dystonia). It could take up to an hour to hour and a half for them to stop. They are very violent and can include all muscles of the body. I do eventually fall asleep, but my muscles are so sore when I wake up, it’s like I way overdid a workout every night. Weird thing is, why would my worst symptoms happen as I try to fall asleep?

  • Ive been sleep deprived, stressed, consuming alcohol and work a physical job often late into evening pretty much my whole adult life, but rarely experienced this. That is until last week. I’ve had simple hypnagogic jerks before, but lately I’ve been getting them 5-6 times a night and continuously thru my sleep cycle. Often I can feel the lead up to one about 20 seconds prior. I feel a tickle thru my joints and it slowly becomes a spasm that shakes me. My wife is thinking I’m crazy. The severity of this has led me to look online for an answer…found myself here. Good info and glad I’m not entirely alone in this.

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