Hypnic jerk


Hypnic jerk

A hypnic jerk, hypnagogic jerk, sleep start, or night start, is an involuntary myoclonic twitch which occurs during hypnagogia, just as a person is beginning to fall asleep, often causing them to awaken suddenly. Physically, hypnic jerks resemble the "jump" experienced by a person when startled,[1] often accompanied by a falling sensation.[2] A higher occurrence in people with irregular sleep schedules is reported.[3]

Contents

Causes

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine there are a wide range of potential causes, including: anxiety, caffeine, stress, and strenuous activities in the evening.[4] This strange falling sensation and muscle twitch is known as a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch or "Hypnic jerk". Close to 70 percent of all people experience this phenomenon just after nodding off, according to a recent study at the Mayo Clinic.

Most experts agree that this is a natural part of the sleeping process, much like slower breathing and a reduced heartbeat. The occurrence is well known and has been well documented. However, experts are still not completely sure why the body does this. The general consensus among researchers is that, as the muscles begin to slack and go into a restful state as sleep is entered, the brain senses these relaxation signals and misinterprets them as indications of falling. The brain then sends signals to arm and leg muscles in an attempt to regain balance. This misinterpretation that takes place in the brain may also be responsible for the "falling" dreams that accompany the falling sensation. These "dreams" are not really normal dreams, as they are not produced from REM sleep, but rather more like a daydream or hallucination in response to the body’s sensations.

While this phenomenon happens to most, studies have recently begun to link some occurrences of "Hypnic jerks" to sleep anxiety, fatigue, and discomfort. People who are having trouble sleeping or cannot get comfortable in bed appear to experience the sensation more often throughout the night. It is especially more common with people who are trying to fight falling asleep or have deprived themselves of sleep for more than 24 hours.

Researchers believe that the lack of sleep from sleep anxiety or sleep deprivation confuses the muscles and the brain. The muscles continually attempt to relax and shut down for rest, while the brain remains awake creating continued "misinterpretations" of falling or loss of balance.

Scientists and researchers continue to study sleep twitching and jerking in a small capacity, but state that the sensation is completely normal for our bodies and is of little medical significance. Our bodies go through several procedures of shutting down and preparing for an extended period of rest. "Hypnic jerking" is just one of them. It does not appear to cause damage to the body and poses no danger to its physical wellbeing.

Cycle

According to Marianne Middleton, clinical coordinator at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Sleep Disorders Center, the occurrence of hypnic jerks can become cyclical. The cycle occurs because: "If you lose sleep because you constantly jerk awake, you will become fatigued and may develop anxiety or worry about falling asleep. The more worried and tired you are, the more likely you are to jerk awake. The more you jerk awake, the more sleep you lose."[4]

See also

References

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jerk (disambiguation) — Jerk may refer to one of the following:* Clean and jerk, the second stage of the Olympic weightlifting exercise * Hypnic jerk, an involuntary muscle twitch during the transition from wakefulness to sleep * Jamaican jerk spice, a style of cooking… …   Wikipedia

  • Myoclonus — Classification and external resources ICD 10 G25.3 ICD 9 333.2 …   Wikipedia

  • Sleep — Waking up redirects here. For other uses, see Waking Up (disambiguation). This article is about sleep in general; for specifically non human sleep see Sleep (non human); for other uses, see Sleep (disambiguation). Sleeping child Sleep is a… …   Wikipedia

  • Sleep disorder — Classification and external resources ICD 10 F51, G47 ICD 9 …   Wikipedia

  • Hypnagogia — (Greek ὕπνος, húpnos sleep + the root found in ἄγω, ágō to lead away, conduct, convey , ἀγωγεύς, agōgeús conveyor , ἀγωγή, agōgḗ abduction, transport, leading away etc.), often misspelled hypnogogia , is a term coined by Alfred Maury for the… …   Wikipedia

  • Microsleep — A microsleep is an episode of sleep which may last for a fraction of a second or up to thirty seconds.[1] Often, it is the result of sleep deprivation, mental fatigue, depression, sleep apnea, hypoxia, narcolepsy, or hypersomnia. For the sleep… …   Wikipedia

  • Periodic limb movement disorder — Classification and external resources ICD 9 327.51 DiseasesDB 29476 …   Wikipedia

  • Non-rapid eye movement sleep — slow eyes redirects here. For sloe eyes, see Prunus spinosa. Non rapid eye movement, or NREM is, collectively, sleep stages 1 – 3, previously known as stages 1 – 4. Rapid eye movement sleep (REM) is not included. There are distinct… …   Wikipedia

  • Lucid dream — A lucid dream is a dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. The term was coined by the Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik (Willem) van Eeden (1860–1932).[1] In a lucid dream, the dreamer can actively participate in and manipulate… …   Wikipedia

  • Sleep apnea — Classification and external resources Obstructive sleep apnea ICD 10 G …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.