Have you ever woken up with a jerk as if been thrown into your bed? Or fallen from a virtually enormous height onto your bed? Perhaps you have had a hallucinatory dream or flash that seemed real like a memory? Alternatively, was it lucid dreaming that got you here?
All of the above questions route their answers to hypnic jerk. Popularly known as sleep starts, night starts, myoclonus and hypnagogic jerk, this parasomnia occurs only during the hypnagogic state (just falling asleep). An odd twitch that occurs involuntarily in the transition of wakefulness to sleep, after the hypnic jerk happens, the person feels akin to the rock bottom of a free-fall. It might just be a few seconds or a few minutes, but the experience can be different based on individual perceptions of paranoia, lifestyle and medical history.
What Causes Hypnic Jerk?
Unlike muscle twitches experienced in random situations, hypnic jerk is not erratic. Jerking in sleep is a muscle twitch that happens without your action and sometimes even without your knowledge. Nevertheless, how does this unplanned jerk occur?
Some causes of hypnic jerk currently approved by the scientific clan are:
Sleep Posture Problems:
- A direct cause of hypnagogic jerk, neglected and prolonged mistakes with your sleep posture can cost you dearly. Sleeping 6-8 hours in an uncomfortable position can lead to episodes of confusion in the mind such that it perceives this initial relaxation before sleep, as equivalent to an unsupported free-fall. Hence, the brain makes you roll up your limbs only to twitch awake with a terrifying jerk of awakening, soon after!
Medical condition or Medication
- Sometimes certain medical conditions like surgery, injury, trauma or drug use can lead to hormonal imbalances and undue stress in our mind. Some medications heal the disease but heap up the toxicity levels in our blood instead. Certain sleeping pills, antidepressants and painkillers can also kill your sleep through hypnic jerks.
- Hence, have never cross the limited intake of medications, so that you are not dependent on any chemicals, let alone your hypnic jerks recurs as a nightmare.
- Yet another common cause of hypnic jerks is the prevalence of other serious sleeping disorders. Critical sleeping disorders like sleep apnea or sleep paralysis are often diagnosed alike the jerk in hypnagogic or hypnopompic state and has a high chance of being misinterpreted too. Epilepsy is another possible disorder causes seizures and hypnic jerks that you suffer can be misconceived as this. Consult a doctor and discuss your symptoms with respect to the sleep cycle to confirm your confusions.
- Many medications prescribed for sleep, pain and depression often demarcate that they cause side effects to the myoclonus (Spastic contraction of a group of muscles) area. However, people deliberately ignore the same and continue the consumption of the medications to experience horrific jerks like that of a hypnic Any abuse of drugs (substance) can lead to hormonal imbalances in our body, which in turn causes a major dent in the circadian rhythm.
- If you have any type of addiction problems, go for de-addiction immediately and put a stop to your terrifying twitches popping out of the blue!
Anxiety and Stress:
- Stress and anxiety together form the cause and effect of myoclonic jerk . Undue stress can lead to fear, paranoia, delusions and insomnia such that a chronic anxiety will be established in the mind to form a vicious cycle. If you continue to ignore your stress for long, it is possible that you will have many more recurrences of hypnagogic jerks in the near future. With the rate of increase or decrease of your stress, hypnic jerks will also increase and decrease, respectively as it is has a directly proportionate ratio to the former.
Exhaustion or Fatigue
- Another renowned causative of hypnic jerk is fatigue. As we all know, fatigue can lead to strained muscles, stress, tension, anxiety and fear, which can disturb your circadian rhythm. If you exercise immediately before your bedtime, there are high chances that you will experience hypnic jerk. This is due to the negative inferences of undue exercise that you did before bed. Avoid all strenuous activities before bed.
What are the symptoms of Hypnic Jerk ?
Being a traumatic experience of a sudden jolt of freefall far above your cozy bed, an episode of hypnic jerk can literally jerk your mental stability too. Nevertheless, the first step to treating twitching in your sleep is through recognising in detail your own experience of the twitch.
Is it sleep paralysis? Is it exploding head syndrome? Or is it hypnagogic hallucinations?
Before starting a course of medicines, one must know for sure if the medical symptoms experienced demarcate hypnic jerk or another somnipathy.
- Sudden falling-off feeling: Sometimes when you are falling off to sleep, hypnic jerk happens and you wake up with a sudden muscle twitch like a fall from the sky, due to the contraction of the myoclonus.
- Heartbeat: Sometimes if you wake up with racing heartbeat without proper memory of it, but flashes of a terrifying nightmare, hypnic jerk might be the culprit.
- Sweatiness: If you wake up in a puddle of sweat, there is a high chance that you had an episode of a hypnic jerk or sleep paralysis.
- Shock: The jerk in the hypnagogic state is truly a shocking It depends on the subjective hallucinations as well as their mixed perceptions.
- Searing Sensory flash: This is the second common symptom that most patients report after being diagnosed with a hypnic If you have an incomplete memory of sensory flashes, then record the same in your sleep diary.
- Sensory hallucination: Sometimes you feel tactile or olfactory hallucinations like in a dream state and your mind begins to trip on it. Apart from any induced altered sense of consciousness; this can also be a cause and effect of hypnagogic hallucinations.
How is Hypnic Jerk Tested?
The only person who can confirm that you have hypnic jerk is you. Once you have accepted that you may have the hypnic jerk, the next step is to keep a sleep diary and crosscheck your assumptions with respect to the reality. If you turn positive, it is time to go to a sleep doctor and get your sleep checked ASAP!
The medical term for this is polysomnogram, where sleep doctors study the brain wave patterns of the patient within a sleep chamber. You may have to spend a day at the clinic, but once the sleep doctors know what you are put-up with, they can definitely help you heal your sleep.
How is Hypnic Jerk treated?
Do you experience hypnic jerk frequently? Do you have an anxiety problem? Do you relax at all?
Once you are diagnosed with the hypnic jerk, you must understand that it is not serious and you can heal it effortlessly with a certain bout of discipline and balance in life. To start with, discuss with a sleep doctor or avail a self-help course to heal your body naturally.
Avoid Vicious cycle:
A vicious cycle is formed once you misinterpret your twitching in sleep. The disorder can recur in a cyclic pattern when you are too anxious about it. It is necessary to avoid this vicious cycle because once you interrupt the smooth bodily flow of sleep, you create a major dent in the sleep cycle. Additionally, you can even develop chronic insomnia if you continue to stay up and worry about your hypnic jerks.
Do not be anxious or worried about hypnic jerks because they are nothing serious. It is like a frolicking treat or trip of your mind. Avoid fretting over the same and ending up fatigued or sleep-deprived in the future. To start with, tell to yourself how silly the hallucination during your hypnic jerk was.
Hygiene and Health:
Follow a strictly healthy and hygienic sleep cycle for the next step of repairing your sleep. Buy yourself a sleep diary and start recording everything usual and unusual about your sleep in brief/ long. Be stern about sleeping at precise time-durations and in same comfortable position.Record how your sleep has changed with respect to change in sleep position, an increase in duration of sleep or sleep timing. Analyse what is favourable to your body and what is not. Correct your sleep posture and deficiency issues with respect to the same.
Meditation and Music Therapy:
Another important therapy for your hypnagogic jerk is relaxation exercises to calm your mind and provide peace. Mindful meditation helps your mind and body get rid of excess restlessness and undue fatigue, easily. If you consume alcohol, excess caffeine or nicotine alongside meditation, there is a high chance that you will suffer from episodes of hypnagogic hallucinations.
Music for sleep can help you achieve deeper sleep stages that can resolve your stress and provide you peace of mind. When the mind is at peace, there is very little that the bodily hormones need to do, to go you to restorative deep sleep.
Coping with hypnic jerks might seem impossible in the start, and you must seek support if you think you do not have confidence and patience enough to put up with the uncertainty of your experience. Overall, hypnic jerks are nothing to worry, so either seek your BFF’s shoulder or get to a sleep chamber ASAP and sleep blissfully!