Hypnic Jerks: My Experience & Coping Ideas

Dark photo of a couple in bed, with the words on top "when you're just about to fall asleep, but your arm jolts you awake"

Have you ever woken up with a sudden jolt just as you were falling asleep? Maybe it felt like one of your arms or legs had an involuntary spasm?

Perhaps you’ve woken with the feeling of falling, saw a flash of light or heard an unexpected noise. If this sounds familiar, it could be that that you’ve experienced hypnic jerks.

In most cases, a hypnic jerk or two is thought to be a harmless part of the process of transitioning from being awake to asleep. However, if you’re concerned by the severity or how much they disrupt your sleep, or if you have spasms during the daytime, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor.

In this article, I’ll be talking about my experience of hypnic jerks, and how I cope with my partner’s episodes. After that, I’ll cover some background information and coping strategies.


My experience of hypnic jerks

My own experience of hypnic jerks is that they are usually quite mild and only happen once or twice a week – as far as I’m aware. Just one or two small twitches of a hand or arm seems to be the norm on the nights I have them. After that, I typically fall asleep quite quickly, and if I do have any more, I don’t remember them.

A few times a year, I experience a much bigger jolt that feels like one side of my whole upper body spasms or jumps in bed. I’ve noticed that these tend to happen when I’m particularly tired, such as when travelling or if I’ve hit the gym especially hard that day. Again though, I usually fall asleep fairly soon after one of these more dramatic episodes and they don’t cause me any distress.

Living with someone who has more frequent hypnic jerks

My partner, who kindly agreed for me to talk about her in this article, has multiple hypnic jerks every night without fail. As a bit of a light sleeper myself, her twitching has a tendency to keep me awake until it finally subsides, especially because they are sometimes very pronounced.

Interestingly, like my own hypnic jerks, I only notice her hands and arms making any movements. Even when we have our feet touching, they never seem to twitch. It’s always her upper body.

They also seem to follow a pattern. There may be two to five small movements or twitches over the course of a minute or two, and then one big one. If we are holding hands at the time, it sometimes feels like an intermittent pulsing of her hand, followed by either a tighter squeeze of my hand as her fingers contract or a sudden movement of her whole hand or arm to one side.

They rarely seem to wake her up on their own, but sometimes they cause me to move in bed, which then wakes her up. If she does stir and I jokingly tell her she just had an epic twitch, her usual reply is ‘oh really? I must be falling asleep!’

Her hypnic jerks are nightly, and can go on for several minutes after we turn the light out. They are so predictable, that I’ve learned to accept that it’s likely I won’t fall asleep myself unless I sleep on the other side of the bed with no physical contact or I wait until she’s fallen asleep if our bodies are touching. And if she wakes up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night, and I’m awake too, the hypnic jerks often start all over again.

How I cope with our combined hypnic jerks

For me, the main thing is to always keep in mind that they are likely to be normal and nothing to worry about in both our cases. Fortunately, they don’t last long, so I don’t lie in bed worrying about my occasional twitches.

I harbor no resentment towards my partner just because her hypnic jerks keep me awake for a few minutes. It’s quite likely it would take me that long to relax and fall asleep anyway, with or without her spasms.

Finally, one of the key points I try to remember is that they can be seen as a sign that sleep is probably just around the corner. Even if I have a more dramatic jolt, I just smile to myself and look forward to the next phase – sleep.

As you’ll see in the following sections, there are some lifestyle factors that may be involved in hypnic jerks. For me personally, they are all things I try to do anyway, not specifically for the hypnic jerks. But I do feel that stress is an important one for both of us to keep an eye on, as the hypnic jerks anecdotally seem worse during periods of higher stress.

As someone who has had hypnic jerks for as long as I can remember, and more recently am living with a partner who has them nightly, it’s interesting to see what the current scientific thinking is around hypnic jerks. Let’s take a look.

Different names

First of all, if you look up hypnic jerks online, it’s worth bearing in mind that they are sometimes referred to by different names:

  • Sleep starts.
  • Night starts.
  • Sleep jerks.
  • Hypnagogic jerk.
  • Myoclonic jerks. A myoclonus is an involuntary muscle twitch, with hiccups being another harmless example.

What are hypnic jerks?

Hypnic jerks are the sudden, involuntary twitching of one or more muscles when you’re falling asleep. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders manual describes them 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.

International Classification of Sleep Disorders – 3rd Edition

The fact that they often occur asymmetrically explains why it might feel that just one arm or leg jolts. Furthermore, they can occur independently or in response to external stimuli in the bedroom, such as your partner moving or external noise.

The Mdsmanuals.com website explains a key difference between physiologic myoclonus and pathologic myoclonus. It states that physiologic myoclonus can occur when a person is falling asleep or during early sleep phases, whereas pathologic myoclonus can result from different disorders and medications.

In a review paper in 2012, Dora Lozsadi neatly explained this difference as follows:

Myoclonus is a brief (less than half a second) contraction involving agonist and antagonist muscles, leading to a sudden jerk. It may be a normal phenomenon, as in the so-called ‘sleep starts’. When pathological, myoclonus is a symptom of a broad range of neurological and systemic diseases.

Dora Lozsadi


The most common symptom is the sudden twitching, spasm or jolting sensation of one or more limbs. Some people might have other experiences, such as:

  • The feeling of falling.
  • A shock sensation.
  • Hearing a sudden noise.
  • Seeing a flash or unusual light.
  • Hallucinations.

In addition, researchers have noted that it’s possible to have a physiological response, such as a faster heartbeat, increased breathing rate or sweating.

If you do have symptoms that feel more severe than simply twitching, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor about your experience.

How common are hypnic jerks?

If you have hypnic jerks, then rest assured you’re not the only one whose wayward limbs seem to have a mind of their own at bedtime. In a study in 2016, Italian researchers suggested that between 60% and 70% of people experience hypnic jerks, both men and women and people of all ages.

What causes hypnic jerks?

As is often the case in the complex world of sleep, the exact cause still isn’t completely understood. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders manual offers this technical explanation:

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.

Or in layman’s terms, your brain and body are briefly a little bit out of sync as you relax and go from being awake to being asleep.

Factors that may increase the frequency and severity of hypnic jerks

Although the exact cause is still up for debate, researchers have suggested several factors (such as this 2015 paper and this 2023 paper ) that might increase the severity or likelihood of hypnic jerks happening, such as:

  • The use of caffeine or other stimulants. Medline.com has more information on the side effects of caffeine.
  • Anxiety or stress.
  • Fatigue, such as from intense physical work or exercise.
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Certain medications.

Is it caused by another condition?

A review of hypnic jerks literature by researchers at the University of Alabama raised an important point. They proposed that hypnic jerks are often seen as benign, but could in some cases be a ‘characteristic of certain illness’.

They also suggest that hypnic jerks are more prevalent in chronic health conditions that disrupt sleep and could also be ‘mimicked by other movement disorders’.

Some of the differential diagnoses they say should be identified include:

  • Nocturnal seizures.
  • Nonepileptic seizures.
  • Parasomnias.
  • Hyperekplexia.
  • Restless legs syndrome.
  • Periodic limb movements in sleep.
  • Excessive fragmentary myoclonus.
  • Psychiatric diagnosis.

In addition, the Italian researchers in the 2016 study (see above) found that hypnic jerks are common in people with Parkinsonism. The Alabama team also suggested it could be helpful in diagnosing the condition.

Finally, don’t confuse sudden wakings from hypnic jerks with sleep apnea. If you, or someone you know, wakes suddenly gasping for breath or with loud snoring, this should be discussed with a doctor.

I don’t want to cause panic with the above information, but I think it’s good to be aware that ‘usually’ benign doesn’t mean ‘always benign for everyone’. Again, if you’re concerned about your own experience of hypnic jerks, it’s okay to raise it with your doctor, even if you think it’s likely to be normal. Peace of mind is valuable!

Reader survey results

Way back in 2014, I conducted a short survey for readers to share their experience of sleep starts. The results are of course biased because the people who voted were already searching for information about the topic. With thousands of people participating though, I think the results are still interesting.

1. Frequency

In the graphic below, you can see how often voters experienced hypnic jerks. It’s interesting to note that many readers had them on a daily basis. The largest percentage of 42.2% say they have them occasionally though.

chart of poll results into how frequently people have hypnic jerks

2. How they affect your sleep

Here you can see that many people were able to sleep well after an episode. 43.9% of people say it disrupts their sleep at first, but then they sleep okay.

no sleepless nights hypnic jerks poll 2 - how they affect your sleep.

3. The role of stress and anxiety

The final poll shows how people feel about the impact of stress or anxiety. 50.8% thought anxiety or stress ‘definitely’ makes their hypnic jerks worse. It could be that tackling stress or anxiety in your life is a good idea if it’s relevant to you.

chart of the poll results for how much people think stress or anxiety make hypnic jerks worse for them

Do you need to see a doctor?

While sleep experts often suggest that hypnic jerks are benign in most cases, they do recognise that they can have a negative impact on some people’s sleep and well-being.

If your hypnic jerks aren’t severe and you don’t have any other symptoms or health concerns that are worrying you, then try to relax and allow yourself to fall asleep naturally when they occur.

However, if you have them regularly and/or severely, or have other symptoms, you might want to raise it with your doctor. If they think it’s a sign of another disorder, they might ask you to do a sleep study or further tests.

They might also offer to prescribe medication to reduce the frequency. And importantly, they can offer reassurance if that’s the appropriate course of action and give you advice about healthy sleep habits that might be beneficial in your case.

Finally, despite what I’ve said, trust your instincts. If you just ‘have the feeling’ you’d like to speak to your doctor about it, then do so.

How can you stop hypnic jerks?

It might not be possible to totally stop hypnic jerks from happening. Accepting them as normal and harmless is perhaps your best option if they aren’t severe.

Additionally, the following self-help ideas might be worth considering:

  • Cut down on caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants – especially in the evening.
  • Reduce how much intense work or exercise you do in the evening. Do exercise in the morning or afternoon instead.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet.
  • Use a comfortable mattress and bedding.
  • Sleep in a comfortable position.
  • If you suffer from anxiety or stress, do some relaxation exercises in bed. One simple breathing exercise is to inhale for a count of 4, hold for 4, then exhale for a count of 4.
  • Try not to allow yourself to get too tired. You may understandably have a busy and tiring lifestyle. But it’s important to give yourself enough time to sleep well.
infographic with self-help ideas for hypnic jerks and good sleep

Avoid the vicious cycle of worry

Hypnic jerks may trigger a vicious cycle of worry if you become fixated on them.

If you worry about hypnic jerks, you might start to get less sleep and become more fatigued. The problem then is that if stress and fatigue can contribute to the frequency of hypnic jerks, you might find yourself in a vicious cycle.

The key is not to allow the occasional sleep start to disrupt your sleep any more than it has to. Again, try to relax, forget about it and go back to sleep.

Readers’ tips for coping with hypnic jerks

In the comments below, many readers have offered suggestions for reducing their hypnic jerks. So I’ve compiled a list of the most common and interesting ideas.

These ideas don’t all have medical backing and are anecdotal. Please take them with a pinch of salt. But you might find the ideas useful if nothing else has helped.

  • Try to see the funny side (I do this myself).
  • Magnesium supplements have been helpful for some 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. Disclaimer: please discuss supplementation with your doctor as there is no conclusive evidence that magnesium helps with hypnic jerks.
  • Assess your current diet. Make sure it’s healthy and balanced. Eat less processed sugary and salty foods. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • If you follow a special diet, such as being vegan, pay particular attention to your vitamin and mineral intake, such as the B vitamins. Ensure your diet includes the right quantity, and preferably get your B vitamins through food rather than supplements if possible.
  • 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 properly deal with any major source of stress in your life.
  • If you suffer from anxiety, take steps to tackle this in your daily life.
  • Stop doing very intense exercise late in the evening for a week and see if it improves.
  • Try to see them as a sign that you must be falling asleep. So it’s a positive thing as you know you’ll soon be asleep.
  • Ask your doctor if any medication you currently take could contribute to your hypnic jerks.
  • Check if medication you’re taking has a known side effect of myoclonus. If it does, raise it with your doctor.
  • Experiment with different sleep positions if you sometimes feel uncomfortable in bed.
  • Don’t go to bed very late at night.
  • Film yourself sleeping or use a sleep tracker. 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 it’s particularly troubling.
  • Ensure you have a quiet sleeping environment. It could be a sudden noise which startles you awake.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • 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 warm shower before bed. Then do relaxation exercises before getting into bed or 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.

Your views

It’s always 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.


  1. Since no one has mentioned these things I thought I’d add to the blog.

    These things triggered muscle twitching for me. It was so bad that only after a month of coming off all of them and taking potassium, taurine, phosphatadyl choline (lecithin), coming off ketogenic did the twitching go away. (all forms of magnesium made me worse. Calcium actually helped)

    – ketogenic diet, salt, sulphur (msm powder, brocolli sprouts, alpha lipoic acid – NOT taurine or garlic)

    In addition
    – Over a year ago I was taking high doses of turmeric and black pepper to deal with cancer. It made my head spin so bad I felt sick when lying down. Now whenever I take curcumin I don’t sleep well.

    – Taking b6 (tested separately pyridoxine, p5p) both trigger brain spark feeling.
    – taking too much zinc depleted my ability to have dreams. (note: zinc carnosine is the only one I can take to avoid stomach cramping anyway)
    – taking copper helped my sleep, but after a while of taking 2mg copper (maybe after 2 weeks) my head spark feeling came back and then went away from stopping copper. So I believe the imbalance of zinc, copper, iron affecting this strange feeling. Now I ensure I always get a good ratio of 15:1 zinc to copper. Never take zinc for long periods without sufficient copper.

    – cistus incannus is great biofilm buster (killing bacterial pathogens) but when starting to drink it, my body wasn’t used to it, and taking too much caused brain spark feeling at night.

  2. Happy to find this article and all these wonderful comments. I have had insomnia most of my life. I am now 51. The insomnia did not always include these sleep starts though. Recently I have had a lot of them and thought they were a reaction to a past traumatic event. Then I found out about the hypnic jerk.

    Curious if anyone ALSO experiences this feeling of falling or sort of like vertigo – yet not vertigo – while awake? I certainly have this issue while trying to fall asleep. Am also sure most of it is anxiety-related, yet sometimes like today – I also feel it while I am awake. I hardly got any sleep last night. Tried a nap today – took valerian root – yet the extreme feeling of falling or similar to the feeling when I was a child and my father would drive over a hill fast so we would experience the strange feeling – kept me from going to sleep.

    Also, I often experience pulsile tinnitus – anyone also have hearing issues along with this? The other thing I am curious about is whether anyone feels this could be related to something visual?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jessi,

      I have tinnitus (constant ringing in my ear), vertigo (feels like I’m on a boat), and hypnic jerk from my chest.

  3. Update:

    So I have had continued improvement and getting less jerks now and thought I would post these tips that have seemed to help a lot. I posted a lot of them before but added a few things and shortened it up to what I believe these jerks are mainly attributed to in many including myself, stress and anxiety.

    1. Reduce stress and anxiety. For me this is what caused these in the first place, so reducing stress and anxiety is key as they tend to make jerks worse. My main stress and anxiety now though is like most a fear of going to bed, or falling asleep and getting jerked up as I did for weeks/months when they were at their worse and when my anxiety and stress was at its worst. I have gotten much better and much more calmer though, and going to bed long before you are tired helps a lot as you are not as stressed and desperate to get to sleep. So it is good to try and go to bed early or the same time every night.

    If I stay up until I am exhausted the jerks were much worse than when I gave myself plenty of time to sleep. But I still have insomnia most of the time and takes me hours to sleep, or if I am lucky a few hours or an hour if I am pretty tired. I have not tried staying up until I am exhausted in a long time though as that would be like 40 plus hours and is not sustainable every day, so I may try to stay up longer though and see how it is now that the jerks are more mild and sometimes I do not remember any jerks which is great, and I hope they eventually stop all together or just become unnoticeable again as they always were.

    2. Balanced diet and hydration. A good balanced diet and hydration helps a lot as well with enough sodium, electrolytes, sugar, vitamins, calcium, magnesium, etc. I do not think toxic medications or excessive supplements are needed for most if they are caused by stress and anxiety, and they could do more harm than good in the long run so I do not take them except a Centrum one-a-day vitamin. I keep some D3, Magnesium, Fish Oil, B12, Calcium, and a few others though to take once in a while if my diet lacks them but lately I have not taken them as I want my body and brain to go back to their natural state, and if you keep taking stuff that is hard to do, especially medications.

    I think the body and brain can heal themselves if given enough time, and taking too much stuff can alter your nervous system and brain chemistry maybe permanently, and you will develop a tolerance to them over time and need more and more, which can then lead to toxicity issues. So for me natural is the way to go. I prefer to get my vitamins mostly through food which is also safer and less toxic and with less chance of poisoning or overdose. So I do not take them much and never have or every day. Also a lot of mixed nuts seems to help as they have a lot of good vitamins for sleep and the nervous system such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, Iron, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, and more.

    3. Exercise. This really helps with a lot of things and increases serotonin and dopamine levels of the brain which aids the nervous system in relaxing and helps with sleep. Sometimes I can work out hard before bed and it never bothers me, sometimes it seems to make sleep worse or the jerks worse, but before this I had no problems working out late or right before bed. In fact I usually slept better. Last time I tried it I actually slept well with no jerks so I am not sure the time matters for me or not, it seems more dependent on other issues or the jerks just randomly happen whenever they do regardless.

    4. Ignore the jerks. Regardless of what else you do this is one of the most important and most helpful. When you have them try and ignore them as much as possible and keep your “sleep momentum” going and recognize that they are a normal and natural thing, and means sleep is on the way. As I said before “smother them with sleep” and sleep will come quicker. If you react to them and jolt up, your anxiety and stress levels go up and then the jerks get worse, then your anxiety and stress get worse, and this becomes a vicious cycle.
    I was stuck in this cycle for weeks/months jerking up for 30-40 hours and eventually I was able to break the cycle and reduce the jerks and hours drastically by trying not to react to them and just “accept and let them happen” while I stayed focused on sleeping which helps take their power away. You want to make them minimal and unnoticeable as they always were before you developed a fixation on them, and the stress and anxiety made you become hyper-aware or hyper-aroused by focusing on them.

    5. Stop worrying about sleep and when you will sleep. This is another very important one, when you worry about sleep all the time or when you will sleep, this tends to make falling asleep harder and more elusive. I know as I spent all day every day worrying about when I will sleep and even after a good night, I would be afraid to get up then because I was worried about the “next night” every day even after having a few good nights. This is another vicious cycle and even I am still working on it and trying to take credit and recognize and appreciate the good nights I had, and acknowledge the fact that I did sleep eventually. It is far too easy to focus on the negative and the negative that might happen in the future then to appreciate the positive that happened now. The more you worry about the negative experience that may happen the more it seems to happen. The more you focus on and appreciate the positive experience you had now, the more positive seems to happen.

    I don’t always get great sleep, and a lot of REM sleep (also caused by stress and anxiety) but still sleep nonetheless. So it is important to recognize that and recognize the positive days which then helps build “sleep confidence” as opposed to more fear after having a bad night, and then going to bed afraid the next night. If you go to bed afraid before any jerks even happen you have a 0% of getting to sleep, and will lay in bed for many hours worrying as I have also done and still do some nights. But if you go to bed with confidence at least you then have a 50% chance of getting to sleep as the jerks may not happen, or may just be mild and normal ones that you can sleep through quickly.

    Don’t assume they will be the bad ones though or keep going like when you were at your worst, or highest levels of stress and anxiety. Don’t be shocked when you get them or expect them to be fully gone, then you won’t be surprised when they do come again. But the key is to ignore and minimize them and make them barely noticeable as they always were before, and “smother them with sleep” as quickly as possible as opposed to reacting and waking up, thus starting the vicious cycle all over again. I used to hate going to bed and hate going to sleep, but then it came much easier. Then I got desperate for sleep and then it seemed almost impossible to get. So the key is to just let it come when it comes and that is it. Stop worrying about things you can’t control which is not easy I know, but with time is gets easier.

    So these are the main tips that have worked great for me, and I have had many more great nights than bad ones lately, and the more I do all of these things the better it gets. I still have a few bad nights but lately the good ones have outweighed the bad, as well as more time passing and healing of my nervous system and reducing my stress and anxiety, which ironically is usually the highest before bed. Breathing and meditation also helps with that, and once I get to sleep I can get back to sleep easier then because I know I slept and I know I can sleep again, thus building my “sleep confidence” that way as well. So I believe it is all mental but it is not necessarily easy to “just shut it off” and can take awhile, or at the very least reduce the jerks back to a normal level that is not bothersome. So how you think plays a huge role, and taking away their power is key as they are fueled by anxiety and stress.

    So this is what has worked for me and I continue to try new things and most importantly just relax and recover. Just remember you will sleep eventually, your brain will make sure of it, and you are still here, still alive, and you are stronger than you think. Your brain and body knows how much sleep it needs and will regulate it accordingly, and sometimes “catch-up sleep” will come and balance everything back out again and get you out of that sleep debt. Try and stop worrying about things you cannot control, although it is not easy I know. But the less you stress out about it and the less anxiety you have the easier sleep will come eventually. You may have a few bad nights but rest assured eventually sleep will come. The key is just to get it to come more consistently, more quickly, and naturally as it always has before.

  4. Experiencing severe hypnic jerks this past week. Has kept me awake all night on 2 separate occasions. It can really feel like a living nightmare… Thankfully I was able to go and stay at my parent’s house in their spare room for 1 night. It still took me a few hours to get to sleep but the change of scenery must have made a difference as I fell into deep sleep for a good 7 hours. I have some Temazepine but I’m reluctant to take it as I don’t want to become dependent. These sleeping pills usually don’t work on me anyway unless I take a hefty and potentially dangerous dose…

  5. “Remember the panic is only there because your nerves are sensitized to it. One spasm of fear is making you more fearful of the next, so that each spasm seems more intense than the last. If you relax, analyze the spasms (as advised in a previous chapter), and resign yourself to having them temporarily, without adding second fear, you will develop an inner peace that will break the cycle of spasm-panic-spasm. Also remember that if sleep does not come it will come tomorrow or the night after. It will eventually come. It has been coming nightly to mankind for thousands of years. This habit is stronger than your habit to prevent it.” -Dr. Claire Weekes “Hope and Help for Your Nerves.”
    Here is a great book that I have had for over 20 years now, and it helped me a lot with nerve issues I had back then and now it has helped me yet again today with this issue and the one chapter on sleeplessness is almost as if it is talking exactly about this issue and how to overcome it. Little did I know I would be reading it again over 20 years later for another issue that back then I did not even think about, and now today I barely remember the issues I had back then, so hopefully this same cycle continues except this is the last issue. Some may remember my very long post on here and the website about overcoming these jerks and for me they were caused by severe stress and anxiety over a dentist appointment to remove a wisdom tooth. Since then I have improved a lot and this book also really helped with it also.
    I am not a fan of taking sedatives after the Unisom messed me up and made things even worse, and I tried Melatonin also which worked once in a while, and the Olly Sleep one worked great at first but also made me more tired the next day and groggy and sometimes it did not, or did not do much, and is a blend of Melatonin, Magnesium, L-Theanine & Botanicals. I also have been taking supplements more, especially Magnesium, Calcium, and Potassium through food only along with D3, B12, Omega Fish Oil, B6, and sometimes Gaba and L-Theanine. But I find that once I stop taking sedatives or Melatonin and let my body “detox” it seems to work better just letting it regulate itself, and get most of my vitamins through food.
    So I try to stay as natural as possible and refuse to mess myself up even more with drugs, although very tempting at times but I always remind myself that I do eventually sleep and get through it, and I am still alive and doing well. I still have some bad nights as well as some great nights. Another thing that worked well was changing to trying to sleep in another room and using a recliner, which as the book also said about changing the scenery takes the attention off yourself and the dreaded bedroom where all the suffering and bad memories happened and sometimes continue to happen.
    This worked very well surprisingly, and even before this I was not able to sleep anywhere else but my bed and laying down, as I am a side sleeper and back sleeper as well. But chair in the other room took the pressure off and I was shocked I was able to sleep much more quickly than usual, which can take many hours and also depends on how sleep deprived I was or how bad the jerks were the night before. Also I noticed I had mostly the normal jerks in the legs sitting up not as much in the upper body when laying down, and while laying down even the leg and foot jerks shake the whole bed and breathing is easier sitting up as well so that helped a lot, and sitting up more they were not as bad and I got to sleep much faster.
    So I got to sleep for a few good hours pretty quickly, and once the tension was broken I went into my bed and slept much faster then after that, and I kept switching back and forth just to see how it went and all went very well. I was able to break the cycle of worry in the same bed seeing the same images every night and I now had an “out” if I needed it taking pressure off. But I was surprised as I said before I had these jerks (or before I developed a fixation on them due to increased anxiety and stress, since they are normal in most people) I could only sleep in my own bed. But after all the bad experiences in there this was a relief from it all thus allowing sleep to come easier.
    But even in just the bed some nights are good and some are bad, and I think it is very important to always focus on and remember the good nights and how sleep eventually came, as it is very easy to quickly forget it and start thinking about the next night as soon as you get up, and wondering how bad it will be and if sleep will come. So yeah it is all in the mind and over-sensitized nerves make it hard to relax, but when you do it is important to give yourself credit for when things do go well and be OK with not every night being a great one, and rest assured that more great nights are coming soon.
    The goal is to get many more great nights than bad ones, and give the anxiety and jerks as less attention as possible as they feed off of attention. As I said in my other long post you just need to let the jerks happen and think of them as a “bump in the road” while you are sleeping in the back of a truck, and “smother them with sleep” and see them as a positive thing and that they mean sleep is on the way. It is easier said than done at first, but for me most of the time this seems to work well. Sometimes I even exercise and lift heavy before bed and it helps me sleep, sometimes it makes them worse. So it is really hard to keep track of everything you do all day and night and try and replicate everything to sleep well again.
    Doing this is anxiety in itself, and we never had to do this before this “nervous illness.” You then get more depressed yet because you are no longer yourself, and trying to change your life to accommodate these jerks and be able to sleep, yet sometimes it does not work anyway. So for me I just try to keep doing what I always did as if I am going to have the jerks anyway I may as well enjoy half of my day as opposed to being careful and miserable all day and possibly still get them anyway, and then the entire day is bad. I think this way is the best step to fully healing as opposed to living in fear, and sleeping better overall as opposed to worrying all day whether you will sleep if you do this or that, which I also have done.
    But I feel much better actually being myself even if I do have a bad night, and I had many but it is even worse when I had a bad night after trying to do all the right things. Now some rest is a good thing, and when I took a break it did help. But my mind is not at peace when I am not doing what I always did, so that can make sleep worse also. Plus exercise has so many health benefits as well and is a great stress reliever. So it makes no sense not to do it as usually it actually promotes and helps sleep. But in the end I’m always glad I got it in even if it did over-sensitize my nervous system and make jerks worse, but sometimes it didn’t as well as I said, or sometimes I did not exercise and still had them.
    So in the end I am not sure not exercising matters as much as your mindset, and also helps to go to bed at the same time every night as well. I tried it all, and staying up until exhausted for 40 hours seemed to make them worse than giving yourself plenty of time to wind down even though you may lay in bed for hours not tired. But if you exercise and are productive all day, and getting sun and Vitamin D that should also help cut down that time as it does for me. So yeah overall it is going pretty good still with a few bad nights here and there and this is what I am doing recently which seems to be working, and I am trying to detox and not take anything for sleep as I never had to before, and I think the less stuff I take the quicker I will get back to who I always was, as I think all those drugs/sleep aides can have long term affects on the nervous system if not stopped, and you create a tolerance anyway and become depressed because you have to “buy sleep” in a bottle.
    I did try them though and they worked some and sometimes not, or had side effects as I said and I seemed to feel better after only 3 hours of my own sleep than say 6 hours of Melatonin sleep which although was more sleep it made me groggy all day also. So in the end I think it is best to let our bodies get back to the way they were, and diet and vitamins are what is most important, as it is easy to get those out of whack with bad sleep as I did and am still working to get my balance back, which in the end I believe will restore everything back to how it was. I feel so much better when I sleep on my own and do not need any type of aide. “But I emphasize that sedation alone will not cure, the patient must be prepared to accept and float, must have settled his problems or have found a compromise and must now be using sedatives mainly to overcome the residual tension in his body brought on by weeks, even years of previous suffering and fighting.”
    You may never get rid of the jerks entirely since they are normal, but the goal is to get back to how you were before and take the fixation off of them, and try and ignore them and keep that “sleep momentum” going as opposed to reacting to them and waking up in shock, thus starting the vicious cycle over and over again until eventually your brain shuts down and forces you into REM sleep with the vivid dreams which I have a lot. But I have gotten much better at ignoring them, even the big ones that lift you up and you fall back down, and just accept them as they are and stay focused on sleep and not give them the attention they seek. It is not easy at first but after awhile you kind of learn to live with them which then seems to slow them down and make them less scary and intense. So I am just like “nothing new here, just means sleep is on the way, it’s about time.” So yeah that is what I am doing now, and worse case I will have one or two bad nights then one good one with all the catch-up sleep, but the last few nights have been good since I tried the change with the chair.
    But I recommend that book as it covers pretty much all aspects of nerves and nervousness and has helped me for so long now, and I had no idea I would be going back to it again over 20 years later and it still has answers to my issues and seems to address them directly, only further proving that this is a mental condition that is learned, and based on stress and anxiety which makes the issue much worse. At least that is the case with me, and most likely most others as well due to over-sensitized nerves and being stuck in “fight or flight mode” which needs to be shut back off, which can take time. So ultimately that is the goal and to break the vicious cycle of “spasm-panic spasm panic.” “Remember the power of sleeping is stronger than your habit to prevent it.”

  6. Hypnic jerks were ruining my life and health! It was constant for me. I jerked all night constantly. I never slept. I was a walking zombie all day and was falling asleep at my desk but it never really happened as I would jerk awake.

    I feel the cause for me is completely different than yours. I don’t have any anxieties or worries. I have taken many courses on nutrition and health and feel I lead an extremely healthy life.

    I believe it has something to do with blood flow. My saving grace… Every night I have to sleep with a small electric pad at my feet. Even in the summer! My feet have to be warmer than the rest of my body. At first I started with a hot water bottle but if I woke up in the middle of the night I would have to replace the water as it became too cold and I would jerk again.

    This has been a life saver for me! I have been doing it for about 3 years now and sleep amazing!

  7. Hi Brad,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have been experiencing these Hypnic jerks for the past 2+ months (though it feels more like 20 years) and I got so frightened and anxious by them that I went to a psychiatrist. I was first put on Ativan (an anxiety medication) and now being transitioned to Trazodone (an antidepressant used off label for insomnia). My hypnic jerks started during a particularly stressful work period. During that week, I first had insomnia that left me really tired; then when the stressors left and I thought I could sleep again, I began having the jerks every single moment I started to drift off. My heart would be pounding wildly, I’d be gasping for breath, the works.

    I completely agree with you that although there is a population of people who may suffer from physical conditions such as sleep apnea, our experiences are completely anxiety-based. I’m so in awe of how you managed to lift yourself out of this within a month. It really gives me hope that I won’t be like this forever. I can’t tell you how many times just this week I’ve hid in my room and cried because of the stress and fear of never being able to sleep naturally again. Could you say a little on how you’re doing now?

    • Hi Gerry yeah I felt the same way and still do at times as I said I do still have some bad nights since I do still have a lot of anxiety and stress and Melatonin does help a lot especially the Olly ones with the other stuff in them. At some point, I might also try Sertraline (Zoloft) as well as it helps with sleep and anxiety by producing an elevation in serotonin levels which produce a reduction in symptoms of depression & anxiety which makes twitches worse. But I also read some developed them from it as well so still not sure whether to try it as I do not want them to be worse but may also have the opposite effect as well and help not have them or as much, due having much less anxiety and stress. But I am more worried about getting more side effects also. But most say they are not that bad with Zoloft, or low dose of 25mg and is easier to quit taking due to shorter half life and not addicting. So not sure I may try them if I have to at some point. But I only take medicine if I have to and I am not as bad as I was a while back but still trying a lot of things to get rid of the jerks for good or get back to a point where I hardly notice them. But the stress and anxiety do not help so it would be interesting to see if Zoloft did help by reducing or hopefully eliminating those, which also lead to depression which it is for also and sleep cycles, although some also get insomnia from it or at first as well. The Melatonin though does help get me past that stage a lot quicker and relaxes me more, especially the Olly gummies with the L Theanine, Chamomile, and Lemon Balm. Sometimes I sleep too much though or it is harder to get up then, and you are groggy the next day or sometimes I feel OK. So I only use it if I have to. So yeah it is still a process but it a lot better than it was a while back. I hope eliminating the stress and anxiety as much as possible helps them go away for good.

  8. Hi Brad!
    How is the sleep going? Any updates? I do believe as well that this is anxiety related. I am going to try some of the tricks you mention, like sleeping in the back of a truck!

    • Hi pretty good still, I still get them and have some bad and good nights but at least I am not up as long anymore. Or I have one good day then one bad day, then catch on sleep the next day as the brain will do that and make up for lost sleep. I also found that Melatonin works great for an extra boost and I tried new ones from Walmart called Olly gummies and they seem to work great and I got about 9 hours total but only took them one time as I want to be able to sleep on my own no have to take anything. But I know they are there if I need them, as well as the other regular Melatonin and Pure Zzz’s. But I am much better than I was and if I go to bed early and keep investing in the sleep bank, as opposed to staying up as long as I can which would be days. So as of now still doing pretty good and worst case is usually one bad night and one good one. I figure I will sleep once I am ready to sleep as opposed to trying to force myself to sleep with medication but I have them if I need them, and the boost of Melatonin really does help but sometimes I feel more tired then the next day from it even if I sleep more, then sleeping only a few hours on my own but not groggy as I am used to lack of sleep still. But I am having good nights which is great, and I hope it continues to get better. It also helps to just let the twitch happen and ignore and forget it which is hard to do at first, but the quickest way to get to sleep than giving it more attention and starting over again in the vicious cycle.

  9. Here are some tips that have helped me overcome this problem: stop thinking about your next night all the time. tell yourself that if you get a sleepless night because of that, it doesn’t matter. work on your acceptance of the situation. don’t argue with your negative thoughts like “what if?” in the event of an anxiety attack, get out of bed, read, breathe deeply for 10 minutes. listen to relaxation podcasts as you fall asleep.

  10. I have just read the comments here after having two nights of what I am now thinking are hypnic jerks. I have been so worried. The first night I did not sleep all night. I too gasped for air each time I was jerked away from much needed sleep. I am on propranolol for anxiety (about 2 years) and wonder if this is a cause? I definitely do not drink enough water and am often dehydrated, so today after my second terrifying night of thinking I am having a heart attack, I am going to address this! This is so scary and the comments I have read are helpful in knowing I am not alone. I’m hoping this is a temporary blip and if I can get hydrated and get the stress under control, this will cease. Thank you for your web page.

    • I’m going through exactly the same. I’m in a period of high anxiety and have started taking lexapro and was wondering if that might be what’s causing it. It’s very scary, I woke up gasping too as I felt my tongue was choking me. So worrying on top of everything else. Hope it eases soon

    • Hi Sheridan,

      I have been put on Propranolol also and I have thought this is what is causing me to jump out of my sleep and gasp for air. I feel like my heart is about to burst when it happens. After reading your comment I definitely feel that Propranolol is the cause of mine. I’m going to look into it to see if they can cause sleep disturbances.

  11. Hey, just want to add some light here. After drinking lots of water and staying hydrated yesterday, I had a night free of Hypnic Jerks. I recently started getting these. I put it down to anxiety/stress and working from home, but it’s strange how research suggests physical stress can increase your chances of it? Strange because I have done intense CrossFit classes almost every day since November and have needed a physical break and feel so much better since even having a few days rest. All in all, I believe that certain factors like a high salt diet, not staying hydrated and physical stress can trigger these, try drinking 3 liters of water per day. Give yourself a break, listen to your body and hopefully these will slow down for you. Our bodies can be subconsciously anxious too without us knowing- I did the “tapping technique” when I had sleep jerks for a good 2 hours before eventually drifting off and these helped, maybe you can YouTube it and see if it works for you. Take care everyone x I know that was long but hopefully that can help someone else :)

    • Thank you Hilary, I have experienced these awful whole body spasms/jerks/jolting experiences for quite a few years. I have also experienced exploding head syndrome. I feel they are related. It would be great to engage with others that will understand.

  12. I have been getting these but when they happen they are very painful, It makes it very hard not to stress about it because it causes me to physically jolt awake with a painful tingling sort of feeling (but way more painful than tingly) in one specific part of my body but will change where it hurts different times, I’ll also start to have almost a bit of a dream but it’s almost more auditory hallucinations sort of but mixed with a thought, I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s been ruining my nights completely!

    • Hi there I also have these and exploding head syndrome and am now struggling to sleep at all because hearing things that aren’t there is frightening and not conducive to sleep. It’s horrid, isn’t it? This morning after only 2 hours sleep last night I awoke to a loud cracking sound right next to my hear. I drifted off to sleep again and was awoken by a bleeping sound. I just got up in the end. Again. Every night when trying to sleep I jerk awake sometimes ten or fifteen times and then I get up and might not sleep again. It sucks, doesn’t it?

  13. Hello, l have been having hypnic jerks most of my life. I’m now 60. I get on average 6-9 per night l feel that l am about to have a heart attack or a stroke, can’t get my breath and l always fall out of bed, and have some terrible bruises on my legs and forearms. I have tried going to bed early or late, nothing helps. I have seen a sleeping specialist who gave me some tablets, but they haven’t worked, l was just told to stop worrying. I’m due for an operation soon, and am so worried that l will wake up during surgery…please help…

    • I for a while was feeling the jerks as well, and feared the same thing when I had my herniated disk surgery. However, you will be sedated for surgery and will not wake up. Sedation will have a different effect on your body and nervous system. Do not fear about having them during surgery you will be fine. Relaxation and stress relief may help but magnesium supplements could work as well. Good luck

  14. Hello,
    I have been having hypnic jerks most of my life – well from teenager to now aged 60- l must get 7-10 jerks a night they are terrifying. I’m even getting them now if a have a nap in the daytime. I feel that I’m about to have a heart attack or a stroke, l can’t get my breath, and l always fall out of bed, l have some terrible bruises on my legs and forearms. I did go to a specialist in sleeping but only got a few tablets which did nothing and was told to not worry. But how do l tell my brain that? I’m due an operation soon, and am terrified that l will wake up during surgery…….any help please…..

    • You can’t wake up during surgery scientists have found how the gas they use to put you to sleep works. It pretty muchly makes you unable to move or firm any new memory at the moment and you can’t feel anything but turns out your not actually asleep. You’ll be good.

  15. Just wanted to say thank you for the article and especially to everyone in the comments. I was suffering from this for almost a full week getting 2 hours of sleep if I was lucky. I kept panicking thinking this was a precursor to a heart attack. I actually started cleaning up my room and hard drive on one particularly bad night/morning in case I ended up dying. Seeing everyone else here having similar issues and realizing this isn’t something fatal at all has actually cured me. My brain isn’t panicking anymore and I’ve been getting closer and closer to having a normal sleep schedule. Sometimes it feels like I almost had a jolt, but my body and heart stay in that relaxed state, I don’t jump up and take a big gasp of air like I used to, and it doesn’t stop me from getting to sleep soon.

  16. Does anyone experience the jerks once you’re awake?
    I think my toddler is currently experiencing this but it also continues to happen once he is woken up by it and it will keep him up for a while.

    • Hi
      I’m not a doctor, nor a parent, but I would be thinking to check this with a doctor to rule out any other possibilities if he is having spasms while awake.

  17. I have had these before. A while back I’d get them while trying to fall asleep, my whole body twitching me awake or feeling like my heart stopped momentarily as if startled by something. It happened for about a week, stopping me from falling asleep for hours until I finally would pass out, before they finally went away. I never figured out the cause since I didn’t have caffeine and I wasn’t particularly stressed at the time. My best guess was that my sleep schedule wasn’t the best.

    I have since fixed my sleep schedule; being more consistent when I go to bed, no electronics before bed, doing something relaxing until I’m ready to sleep, and I’ve recently started using a sunlight imitating lamp during the day to reset my internal clock since I don’t get a lot of sun where I live during the winter. It’s worked great until now when the hypnic jerks returned.

    The night before last I had a migraine, although it had eased up enough I thought I’d be able to sleep alright. However,I kept jerking myself awake or I’d gasp for air as if I’d stopped breathing, although I hadn’t. Sometimes I wake up if my allergies clog my nose and I can’t breathe out of it very well, but my breathing was very clear. This kept me up late and when I did sleep I did so poorly, even waking up early. This was not great because lack of sleep is a migraine trigger and since I had just had one I was worried it wouldn’t go away. I was correct and the migraine continued the whole day, although I made sure to stay up so I wouldn’t have trouble sleeping that evening. Except I didn’t get to sleep at all last night, the jerks kept me up and even when they didn’t come I was just lying awake despite how tired I was.

    I’m thinking of making an appointment with my GP when they open, but if they can’t see me for a few days I’m worried I’ll be stuck in a cycle of sleep deprivation and migraines. I didn’t have caffeine, I didn’t exercise with a migraine, and I wasn’t stressed; I even tried biofeedback techniques to no avail. My sleep schedule shouldn’t have been affected enough to bring back the jerks. I’m not sure what lifestyle change I’m supposed to make here. The only guess I can make is that I had a lot of Gatorade because staying hydrated is essential to managing migraines. It has sugar, not caffeine, but it’s the closest thing I could think of. Gatorade does sell lower sugar options but I’ve found the sugar substitutes they add can make them even sweeter, which I can’t stomach when I’m nauseous with a migraine. There are some alternative electrolyte boosted drinks that don’t have sugar but I may have to order those online if I can’t find them in stores nearby. But this is all assuming sugar is the culprit. The real answer is that I don’t know why these are happening and probably my GP won’t either.

  18. I’ve been suffering a week now with the jerks. I’ve tried Tylenol, magnesium, Xanax , nothing helps. Are people feeling better yet? Please share. This is a nightmare.

  19. Thanks for the wonderful and informative article. I have also felt same issue while sleeping few years back when i was a teenager. And the experience was very horrible.

  20. Hello, I had myoclonus triggered about two years ago following the intake of 5-HTP (this is really a bad substance, that should be forbidden I think). It was of course a struggle to deal with it at first but gradually I have learned to live with them and live a normal life. I think we share some similarities and we get them in the following situations, at least in my case:
    – strong sleep deprivation
    – falling asleep while being sat
    – napping
    – meditating/hypnosis before sleep
    – the dat after ingesting alcohol

    Many people experience it like you and there is a facebook group called: hypnic jerk/sleep myoclonus support

    You might join it in case it might be of any help.

    • Hi,

      I’ve had these for years now. But development of chronic insomnia possibly due to SSRI (Sertraline) I can’t sleep without drugs and still only get 3-4 hours sleep (like this for 2 months). Now these Hypno-Jerks are more regular 20 times a day on average and prevent me from possible (as I feel as I my brain has forgotten how to ) sleep. If anyone has any advice, suggestions etc… Because I’m at a loss. Community Mental Health Coordinator (CMHC) Community Mental Health Team ( CMHT) just treat it from a pharmacological perspective. And when that line attack doesn’t work they just put blame on to me being resistant ( polite difficult) and instead left ravaged without sleep. I’m exhausted mentally and physically.

      • Curious about when these started for you. Had you just discontinued any medication or were in the middle of discontinuing?

  21. It all started 3 years ago, after a traumatizing event I started to get them. Usually just when I am following to sleep. The first few weeks were the hardest as I was getting around 1.5-2 hours of sleep per night. With time the situation improved and maybe it took me around 3-4 months to get normal enough sleep during nights (I continued to have them when I try power nap for the next two years)

    What helped me then was a better sleep schedule. Go to sleep in the same hour every night, do not go to sleep too late in the night. Use soft dim light at least one hour before sleep and try to catch the sun early in the morning. I kept a diary as it helped me to manage the stress and get to the root cause of my anxiety. Also, it is very hard but the time I stopped to worry about how exact sleep I will get and tried to not overthink about the incoming night and jerks.

    Now, 3 years later they are back but somewhat different. The first time they are more violent and strong muscle spasms, now I am getting a moment of too difficult to grasp an air that will awake me. It all started after another heavy stress-inducing moment, last night was the first night. This evening I tried getting a 5-htp pill and now it is 4 a.m. and I am still awake. Probably will try paracetamol as some of the others suggested. Also, I will try to add more breath practices before bad.

    btw I am glad that I found the site and comment section. If there are other people around we can keep in touch.

    p.s Sorry for the bad wording. English is not my first language and here is 4 a.m. at the moment :)

    • Fast report:
      What seems to work for me is a combination of magnesium + b6 and melatonin. Meditation + breath technics before bad are helping as well.
      Last evening I had some stomach problems and probably because of poor absorption and maybe dehydration I had a poor night for the first time in two weeks.

    • Hi. May I ask about when the symptoms/jerking first began? Wondering if you were taking any medication around that time, if you were discontinuing any medications or had discontinued a medication in the few months before?

  22. it’s 6 am and it’s actually happening to me right now. I need to distract myself for a bit before going back to sleep. This usually does happen to me when I’ve had a heavy midnight snack and/or caffeine, my neck will literally jolt or like turn fast like I just got slapped and the tingly uncomfortable feeling is in my neck as well. This happens whenever I’m almost deep asleep, this started happening years ago and I’m 18, at first I thought it was because of nightmares but come to think of it, it was never scary, I just feel scared and panicked. But then after a few seconds, I go back to sleep again, only for it to happen again and again until I have to open my phone and find distractions for a couple of minutes and here I am. It’s nice to hear that it’s very common tho, kinda thought I’ve got a problem.

    • I have a whole year with the exact same situation. A year ago I was 18 days sleeping only 2 hours each day and my body and mind were so affected I just landed in psychiatric emergencies. I have now treatment against anxiety but I have cycles of crisis of these jerks. They are the worst thing I ever experience and it’s terrible to wake up every 8 to 10 minutes due to a body spasm. Wish you great luck and the best for you.

      • What helped you during this time and have you done anything long term to keep it at bay? My 25 year old son is struggling with this and It is really taking a toll on him.

    • Hi Dianne, I’ve been dealing with this too since April this year. I’ve seen doctors, specialists and even went to the emergency department at the hospital. The truth is, doctors only know about pills and surgeries, not chronic and mystery illnesses. And it all comes down to our diet and stress levels. I managed to find someone who healed themselves using the Medical Medium protocol using vegetables and fruits, and supplements. Check out his Thyroid Healing book which actually pinpoints the causes – heavy metals and other toxins. It’s all about detoxing the bad stuff from our brain and body and eating the stuff that heals them. Good luck.

  23. My sudden jerk is after falling into a deep sleep for 30 -60 minutes. This is a sudden spasm in the abdomen that lasts about 3 seconds but is very violent and lifts me off the bed. This only happens during sleep. Sometimes as others have mentioned I will jerk just as I am about to fall asleep again but these are mild compared to the violent jerk from a deep sleep. Started years ago every few months but now is a few times a week. It takes me a while to fall back to sleep. Just recently I will sometimes have a second one about 3am. I have tried to figure out if it is my diet. I sometimes feel mild reflux during the day. I am 60 but in very good physical shape. The only thing I think is it could be too much sugar? Or maybe snoring sleep apnea that I am not aware of. Also as others have mentioned even though I have had many of these jerks every time I still think it is a death roll for a few seconds. No one has been able to diagnose. I am starting to dread sleep.

    • I have them including the very odd one in the abdomen. I have severe sleep apnea and I’m using a machine that helps me a lot and I can be some months without the jerks, but every certain amount of weeks, I pass a week with them doesn’t matter if I have the machine or not. the amount of acid in my stomach seems to take part in the cause.

  24. I’ve been having these off and on for a few years now. Just as I drift off to sleep, I suddenly jolt awake with a sudden somewhat painful jolt in my chest/heart. It can be terrifying. Sometimes after I jolt I also hallucinate for a second.
    When they first started, the horrible feeling would be in my head, however now it seems to have moved to my chest.

    • I have the exact same issue. I used to jolt to a loud bang or noise in my head, and now it’s my heart fluttering it seems, along with the jolt of course. I find magnesium and potassium usually help, I take both before bed and they seem to not occur then. If I forget to and it happens I take them and wait a bit before trying to sleep again. Maybe this can help you too

    • Aaron,
      I’m a 59 year old male and my hypnagogic jerks started in 2012. Over the last few years, they feel more and more like the muscle that is ‘spasming’, is my heart muscle. Yes, terrifying: heart is ‘blowing up’ for a microsecond, and sometimes even see neon green in vision background, again, for a microsecond.

      I’m also a cardiac patient (dilated cardiomyopathy since 1997).

      My biggest problem is napping. I have EDS (excessive daytime sleepiness), but (surprisingly) only very mild sleep apnea. When I try to nap, the jerks make it impossible. I usually get 4 hypnagogic jerks (in <15 minutes) before I have to give up.

      I have taken a video of myself napping and it is clear that the worst jerks occur 5-10 seconds after I (unintentionally, of course) stop breathing (central apneas, not obstructive apneas).

      Up until a year or so ago, I rarely got these at night. But they are increasing in frequency and intensity at night. Even while using a CPAP.

      I have a pulmonologist (CPAP and detailed sleep study, night and day, coming in January), a cardiologist (on a Holter monitor for a month, in progress) and my PCP all trying to help me figure this out…

  25. I’m really glad to have found this site! I just started having hypnic jerks recently; and felt terrified, just like some others have mentioned. I just didn’t know what was going on. My doctor told me she thinks it is this, and I am trying deep breathing at night, with the help of a meditation app. It does help soothe the jerks, even though it’s hard to breathe at first because I’m anxious about going to sleep. When I awaken, I put it back on. I got calcium and magnesium to try as well. Take care everyone ❤️

  26. Hi All. These jerks/jolts/ spasms I get in the center of my chest just before I fall asleep up to 20 times are getting more frequent and violent is the only way I can explain it. I also get them in my throat, but more so in my chest. It’s like a strong contraction/spasm. A lot of the time I jolt up out of bed yelling in fear. It doesn’t hurt but after a bad night which is many of late, I feel bruised in the center of my chest. I go to work tired & then scared to go to bed. They started many years ago but never to this extent. When they started I was on an antidepressant & I also had “brain snaps” when sleeping. I stopped the antidepressants due to serotonin syndrome, it stopped the brain snaps but not the contractions. I have done so much reading up on these jerks, they are classed as a phenomenon. My doc suggested I take Neurontin/ gabapentin which I didn’t want to take as I would like to treat the cause & not the symptom. It annoys me no doc knows what it is. So tonight I will start Neurontin as I am at my wit’s end as when they happen I feel like I am about to die & I am desperate for a pleasant sleep. Will let you know how the meds go.

  27. I’m so glad to have found this site. I have only just started having these, my experience is similar to what several people have posted, that as soon as I feel I am drifting to sleep, I get jerked awake. My jerks can take slightly different forms, sometimes it’s a muscle twitch in my jaw, foot, arm etc, sometimes it feels more like a mild full body jerk associated with a slight feeling of alarm, but whatever, they all immediately jerk me back to wakefulness. Sometimes it happens all night, sometimes I finally manage to get to sleep sometime around 4-5am. I was terrified having never experienced this before (I’m 45), but finding that it’s actually not that uncommon and that there are some suggested remedies that other people have found work for them, is a relief. I’m hoping that the reduction in stress from that, along with drinking plenty of water and trying to sleep on the side rather than back, will help tonight, and if not I will move on to some of the other suggestions. Thanks and best wishes to you all.

  28. I had it mine 2 months ago after taking an SSRI. Doctor thought I was having anxiety. Stop cold turkey. I took Klonopin for 2 months and melatonin (natural brand) and this has subsided. One week ago I wean Klonopin to .25 and all was going well. Then decided to take a htp5 supplement and it started the cycle again. Damn. I have up my dose to 1.25mg Klonopin since and down it to 1mg for 2 days. Apparently no jerk at all the whole night. Last night took 0.75mg, jerk only once, and could sleep.

    I guess I would not mess with my serotonin anymore.

    Had hypnic jerks when I was young and also sleep paralysis. I also had insomnia. I think it’s a cycle.

    I have since improved my stamina by considering TCM too and it has helped a bit. I was very weak and stresses out 4 months ago. Was shivering and having cold sweats.. the last few months I have worked on the health and helps a bit.

    If you are weak and worried, you will not be doing yourself any favour in surviving this.

    I think melatonin has sort of numb the jerking for me. I believe.. so good luck guys.. always look at the bright side, at least you don’t get anything cancerous.

    By the way, i am not sure. I get jerking as if my heart got struck. And then I could feel as if water is flowing through my brain.. not sure if that’s brain zap or hypnic jerk.. damn.. that ssris are really crap.

  29. Thanks a lot for this website. This is the only positive site about this topic that actually helps people in the entire google. You are doing a lot of social service by organizing it this way and giving strength to people experiencing these sleep issues. You are a hero !!

    • I was just actually putting this together last night as well. I started taking 5Htp again and just went through another bad episode. How did you figure out 5Htp was causing them? Curious if you have any other tips?

      • I have dealt with this for months. Just soon as I attempted to sleep my body would jump or jerk. It was worse when laying on my back which I got terrible jerks. Weird! I even got them when I tried to take a nap during the day. I would wake up on and off through the night. It was so disheartening. I didn’t know what it was like to get a good rest and I was so fatigued much of the day. A Neurologist said she believed it was hypnic jerks and referred me to a sleep center. I feel for those dealing with this. Prayer has helped me immensely and it was the only real cure for me. The power of God! T

        • Hi. May I ask about when the symptoms/jerking first began? Wondering if you were taking any medication around that time, if you were discontinuing any medications or had discontinued a medication in the few months before?

        • I have been getting the same symptoms where I am about to fall asleep and my body jolts and heart races, and I feel like I am having a heart attack, it’s happening for almost 2 years, now I feel miserable going to bed like this every night scared.

  30. Hi guys,

    Anybody considered modafinil? If you get tired or sleepy during the day, it will increase the probability of getting jerky at night. Modafinil reduces tiredness during the day and should reduce the possibility of getting the jerks. Any comments?

  31. I’ve experienced this from time to time throughout my life but the last week has been hell. All of a sudden, *every* single time I start to fade off into sleep, my mind and/or body snaps myself back into consciousness. It started last week when I woke myself up snoring a few times in one night. Ever since then, my mind will not let me sleep and jerks me awake anytime I start to fall asleep. It’s almost as if my mind is super paranoid and anxious that I’ll start snoring so it won’t let me totally fall asleep. I don’t feel like I necessarily have trouble falling asleep, it’s just every time I start to the hypnic jerk happens. I’m not sure if it’s sleep apnea because I’m never gasping for air. Sometimes it’s a physical thing, sometimes it’s like my brain just says NOPE. It can be 3-4 times in 1 minute that I start fading off into unconsciousness and boom, boom, boom, NOPE NOPE NOPE. There are a few things that have changed in my life. A stressful family event happened about 6 weeks ago that I haven’t dealt with. Specifically, I haven’t talked to the person who is the cause but I don’t see how it could just start affecting me now. I started working out 2 weeks ago but I never work out past 5 pm. I don’t drink caffeine ever. I only take B complex and vitamin D in the morning due to a blood test that showed a deficiency. I drink 2 sometimes 3 nights a week but I’ve been doing that forever with no problems. It’s only been a week and I’m now crying in the middle of the night because it’s so frustrating. I used to have vivid dreams and could easily sleep 9 hours. I made a doctors appointment next week, I hope it helps.

  32. I can suffer from these up to 10 or 15 times a night buy I’ve worked out that often it occurs if I’m dehydrated. If I have plenty of water during the day they can disappear all together. If I drink too much alcohol it can make it really bad.

    • It has to do with too much salt intake I think. That dehydrates you. And it lowers potassium which is correlated to muscles.
      Last night I took for the first time in months half a bag of potato chips (125 gram), loved it, but at night the jerks came again and they were away for weeks now. I’m already on a low salt diet because I used to have restless legs and that is also triggered by too much salt. Most people don’t know they have too much salt in their diet because it is added in everything. Especially Americans are having a very bad diet with too much processed food and too much salt.

    • Since writing this I have ever been diagnosed with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. I’ve been prescribed Pregabalin and the jerks stopped immediately. Best of luck everyone

  33. Solution (for me); take 2 paracetamol at night. Somehow it relaxes the nervous system which is responsible for the hypnotic jerks. I think they are extremely stress-related. I got them badly in a time of high stress and being awake all night because the jerks keep you awake every time you start falling asleep doesn’t help. In the end, you get scared going to bed.
    The first night I took the paracetamol I felt already fewer jerks and the second night I finally did have a good night’s sleep. The first weeks the jerks did still happen but to a lesser extent and less severe. Now after 3 weeks I don’t have them anymore.

    I take 4 days paracetamol and then stop for 3 days so I don’t get too attached or addicted (don’t know if paracetamol is addictive).

    Someone else mentioned this earlier here on the comments as a relief.

    And since I found out that paracetamol is a great general sleep aid, many people I mention it too, say they use it also as a sleep aid. Pity it is not widely known, it might be a solution for so many people.

    Don’t take anti-histamines (Tylenol has it in it) or antidepressants, they can make the jerks worse.

    • The hypnic jerks happened to me out of the blue. It started with a few rough nights of sleep and slowly progressed to where my body would jolt me awake just as I was falling asleep. It was miserable and caused me to enter an almost perpetual state of panic.

      I read this and started taking 2 Paracetamol (or two extra strength Tylenol in America, 1000 mg in total) before bedtime (I also began taking two Magnesium tablets, 200mg in total).

      I noticed an improvement in the jerks after the first night. I’ve been on this regimen for 4 nights and now the jerks are next to none. I’m finally able to sleep through the night.

      Deep breathing techniques will also help calm the central nervous system and get your body out of the “flight or flight” mode that makes this worse. Just remember that this will go away. It’s not permanent.

      • Thank you Bell and Silv.
        I didn’t know about the effect of paracetamol. Probably I will try it in a few nights.

        By any chance, any one of you are reading this, can you confirm how it is going with your sleep and the effect of paracetamol and Magnesium?

          • Jon, what seems to work for me is a combination of magnesium + b6 and melatonin. Meditation + breath technics before bad are helping as well.
            Last evening I had diarrhea and probably because of poor absorption and maybe dehydration I had a poor night for the first time in two weeks.

  34. I’m 9 weeks postpartum and it started while I was in the hospital due to pre-eclampsia. I was on magnesium drip when I experienced the first hypnic jerk. I mentioned that to the midwife and she wasn’t concerned at all. I have an anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Could be related to that.
    But I’ve been getting it every night since that night at the hospital and it really bothers me.
    So I decided to check it w a neurologist. He sent me for an EEG. Waiting for the results.

    • I had the exact same thing happen postpartum with preeclampsia. It started right after my daughter was born. It is a lot better now, two years later, but still happens occasionally. I am not exactly sure what causes it. What were the results of your report?

  35. I have extremely terrible sleep Jenks upon returning home on a flight from my travels. My sleep jerks are so bad that I’m often not able to sleep through a 5 or 18 hour flight. The people sitting next to me on a plane are often extremely disturbed by my constant convulsions. These sleep jerks have been extremely bad the past two years I’ve traveled. I interpret these occurrences as my body and mind dealing with my experiences. I’m not able to digest my life excursions as I’m traveling on the day to day and trying to constraints be on the move as to get the most out of my trip. I seldom have sleep starts when I’m home doing nothing and when I leave the plane I’m totally fine. I feel that on top of everything else I realize I’m in the air and that is an attributing factor as well. I really wish there was a remedy or medication I can take before traveling home on a flight. This is my take on the matter.

  36. Recently I have them occasionally at some nights didn’t notice much until I googled and got more curious.
    I hope it’s not worth it happens in the start of sleep and eventually goes away.
    I am scared.

  37. I started with low-level anxiety at the beginning of the pandemic, then graduated to full-blown panic attacks, mostly at night. Initially, meditation and mindfulness worked until it didn’t. I have undertaken many hours of talk therapy which has worked well and am left now at night with the hypnic jerk which I am hoping will diminish. Agreed that any medication based on antihistamines are counterproductive and bring on the anxiety attacks. Also Beta Blockers did not work for me, and I see we have the same issues finding decent MDs. Good luck with that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *