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What is a Hypnic Jerk?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A hypnic jerk is an involuntary spasm or twitch of the muscles that literally jerks a person awake. It usually occurs in the lightest stages of sleep, often just as someone is falling asleep, but not always. The startling spasm also is called a hypnagogic massive jerk, a myoclonic jerk, or a sleep start. People often describe it as a falling sensation or an electric shock, and it is a common, completely normal experience. Repeated movements that wake a person up during the night are usually caused by a different condition, like restless leg syndrome or periodic movement disorder.

Causes and Risk Factors

This muscle jerk, technically known as a myoclonus, most commonly occurs when a person is sleeping in an uncomfortable position or is overtired. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that up to 70% of people experience them when falling asleep. Little research has been done on the subject, but one theory suggests that it may be the result of the muscles relaxing. The body undergoes changes in temperature and breathing as well as a person drifts off to sleep, and the brain could misinterpret this as a sign of falling. Another theory suggests the body reacts to falling asleep much in the way that a person may twitch when dying, and the hypnic jerk is a reflex used to keep the body functioning.

When a person hasn't had enough sleep or is trying to not fall asleep, the involuntary spasms may happen more often. Sleep experts theorize that sleep deprivation, stress, and fatigue can contribute to the frequency of these movements. Caffeine may also be a factor, because it makes it harder for a person to relax. Some people also report that drinking alcohol makes sleep starts more frequent.


To make these spasms less likely, health professionals recommend making sure the bedroom is comfortable and relaxing. People should avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol before bed, and avoid strenuous activities like exercise. If a mattress is old or lumpy, a new one may make a difference. A "white noise" machine can be used to block out annoying or loud sounds that may make falling asleep more difficult.

Auditory and Visual Sleep Starts

A hypnic jerk can also occur as a person wakes up, but this is rare. In some cases, the spasm can affect the auditory nerves as well as the muscles, in a phenomenon known as an auditory sleep start. When this happens, the person hears a very loud snap or cracking sound that seems to come from the center of the head as he or she wakes up. Some people have also experienced visual sleep starts, in which a blinding flash of light awakens the sleeper, but these cases are extremely rare.

Other Reasons for Movement During Sleep

While some slight twitching and body adjustment is common during sleep, some people experience uncontrolled movements in the rapid eye movement (REM) phases, which is when most dreaming occurs. During these periods of deep sleep, all voluntary muscle activity usually stops; in rare cases, however, this temporary paralysis is disrupted, and people may move or act out their dreams. This is not a hypnic jerk, although abrupt and violent movements might wake the sleeper.

Another condition, called periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), causes a sleeper to experience muscle twitches frequently throughout the night, sometimes as often as every 30 seconds or less. These movements usually occur during the lightest stages of sleep, as the body is relaxing, and often wake the sleeper or lead to sleep that's not very restful. The causes of PLMD are not known, and it's not clear if this condition is related to hypnic jerking.

Several other conditions can also cause a person to wake up suddenly during the night. Restless leg syndrome (RLS), in which a person experiences discomfort or pain in the legs and has the urge to move them to relieve it, is a relatively common condition. People with sleep apnea may also wake up abruptly when they stop breathing during the night.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1000513 — On Oct 08, 2018

Magnesium glycinate: I have had jerks before falling asleep for years. Finally to the point that they started as soon as I closed my eyes. I would take well over an hour to fall asleep on a good night. The jerks would get worse I as I was closer to sleep. I once counted 100 jerks in 45 minutes. I was still wide awake and just stopped counting. The jerks felt like walking into a wall but with no pain.

I now take 300-400 mg of magnesium glycinate. Regular magnesium made no difference. Now the jerks take longer to start, are much milder and I fall asleep faster. What a relief! I hope this helps others.

By anon999384 — On Dec 23, 2017

I’ve struggled with hypnic jerk and feel that I’ve overcome it – at least for now. I truly believe it can be conquered but will take diligence on your part. I’m still not sure if it’s: 1) triggered by the brain, sending a misfired neuron, causing the muscle to twitch, or 2) triggered by muscle tension that twitches when your muscles relax going from consciousness to unconsciousness; or could be due to both.

Here’s my remedies that address both causes: 1) for the brain, need more serotonin by taking 5HTP supplements (50 mg), 6 mg melatonin, 400 ashwaganda; 2) for muscles, 600 mg magnesium citrate, 400 calcium, 1000 mg vitamin C, don’t exercise late at night, use muscle foam roller on the legs before sleep, and 15 minutes of stretching/deep breathing prior to sleep. Also, stop taking meds, even over-the-counter stuff like antihistamines, drink plenty of water throughout the day, no caffeine, yoga or walking daily to reduce stress, regular sleep schedule. This may seem like a lot of work, and it is, but you can overcome hypnic jerk. Good luck. I know what you’re going through.

By anon999066 — On Oct 20, 2017

I am 59 and want to ask a question about hypnic jerks. When I have a hypnic jerk, I am sometimes half asleep or I will be dreaming. I want to know how exactly the jerks happen, according to the story of the dream cycle which is going on. For example, I dream that I am walking on a slippery place and I get the jerk in my legs only not on any other part. Or, I get the jerk in my hands as I am dreaming of cycling without putting my hands on the handle, which is related to story line of my dream. But the jerks happen due to relaxation of muscles at the start of sleep. My question is: is the hypnic jerk co-related to dreams or muscle relaxation?

By anon960060 — On Jul 08, 2014

I've had it. Really, it was a bad night. I can't forget it. I heard the kind of sound when you turn on the TV and then I put my hand on my heart. It was so scary. I'm glad I found this site because I didn't know what it was. I'm trying magnesium and b12 and it has worked for me.

By anon945065 — On Apr 10, 2014

I have been having these sleep jerks for over a year since getting vertigo/migraines. It's terribly scary. I had one last night that caused me to bite the tip of my tongue. Has this happened to anyone?

By brianns — On Dec 14, 2013

I get these too and as soon as I saw the word "caffeine," I knew the culprit.

I have another problem too, that I don't think this site describes. Sometimes, not always, when I'm on the verge of sleep I hear a snapping sound like every five seconds. The sound is similar to taking a piece of bubble wrap and snapping a bubble every 5 seconds.

It's not a very loud snap, but I know the sound is just in my head because when I get up, the sound goes away. I only hear this sound between sleep and being awake, and if I have some sort of white noise like a fan going. The snap sound doesn't bother me, but I'm just curious as to what may be causing it. As I mentioned, I didn't see it explained anywhere on this site. Is there a name for it or do I get to name it?

By anon349523 — On Sep 26, 2013

I have had sleep paralysis/sleep apnea in the past, and I'm known to twitch in my sleep. Recently, though, when I wake up in the morning, I see a vivid image of a fist, a flash of light, then I wake up in a panic and a throbbing face. The throbbing only lasts a couple seconds, but it really feels like I was hit for those few seconds. The rest of my day I'm fatigued and groggy. I wonder if this can still be considered a hypnic jerk? I haven't been able to find anything like it online thus far.

By johnnnie2000 — On Aug 03, 2013

Mine have been going on for years. It was diagnosed as hypnogogic jerks, I think, and it is terrifying. I have to point out this happens when wide awake, during the day, but my head jerks when I try and sleep. It is a sudden rush that feels like it goes up my chest and jerks my head within a split second.

Neurology has ruled out epilepsy as the EEG is OK apart from one which had something slight on the front left lobe, I think. I am male and 31. I have suffered from this since I was 16 or so, and common factors are lack of sleep, the day after drinking alcohol, a hard workout at the gym. It's terrible and I have given up on finding out what it is and if can be treated. It is hard to find people with similar symptoms. It can last from 10 minutes to an hour and the dizziness is horrible.

By anon334882 — On May 16, 2013

Mine is different and I don't know what to do. I often shock. I am an ulcer patient and I quit smoking and drinking last November. Ever since, my sleeping cycle has changed. Whenever I am sleeping, I always shock and wake up with pains in my back and neck, and my eyes then my throat crack like I have a cough. Then in the morning, I cough out a very thick glue-like mucus, but milky in color and I will feel so empty in my stomach. Throughout the day, I will not be OK. My eyes and chest crack, I have the back and neck pain, and my throat hurts. When I close my eyes, it hurts. I have had all the tests (abdominal ultrasound) and the doctor says I am O.K. I have taken so much medicine and still it's not O.K. Please, I need help.

By anon327514 — On Mar 28, 2013

I am 53 years old and I am diabetic but I control my sugar I do not even have to take a medication for it. I have the almost same symptoms as others here for four years now. I keep waking up, feeling a shock from my feet to my head, and it lasts only one second. As soon I am get to sleep, I can feel my heart racing so fast for five minutes before going back to sleep and the next day I will be so tired, having flu-like symptoms. My wonderful doctor did all kinds of tests, but so far, nothing yet.

I do not know what to do but I'm really scared. Reading this article today really helped me because I know now I'm not alone. Please help!

By Kira7 — On Mar 23, 2013

I get this all the time! I am usually awakened with a start after suddenly hearing a cat hiss in my dreams (or whatever it is -- if I am not dreaming! ) and also suddenly hearing a woman yell out (also in my dreams, or whatever it is!) Drives me crazy, and it startles the hell out of me!

By anon325424 — On Mar 16, 2013

This doesn't happen to me; something else happens, and it's horrible. Sometimes when I"m half-asleep and frozen from sleep paralysis (which I've kind of gotten used to), I feel a weird sensation in my lower back on the right side, and it's always in the exact same place. It feels like something is touching me there, and slowly it gets worse. It feels kind of like I'm having a muscle spasm or I'm being slightly electrocuted.

In a few seconds it gets unbearable, until it jerks and I'm awake, then it doesn't hurt anymore. Does this happen to anyone else?

By proudman — On Jan 17, 2013

I was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea about six years ago. For a long time now, I’ve been waking up gasping and flailing. It has frightened all of my past girlfriends. I’ve never had a normal sleeping pattern, even as a young kid. My insomnia has also developed into a serious problem over the years. And actually since this past holiday season, it’s been very hard for me to get more than three hours of continuous sleep during the week. For some reason, I’m able to sleep longer -- after some heavy drinking -- on the weekends.

But this weird electrical sensation didn’t start occurring until the last two or three years. I’ve always been a back sleeper. By the way, I’m sure this doesn’t help my sleep apnea. I just have never been a side sleeper like most people I know. But every time I start to doze off on my side, I feel this electrical shock/jolt in my head. I believe the shock is mainly in my head, but it does cause my entire body to jolt or move. In any event, it freaks me out and definitely causes a little anxiety. For my apnea’s sake, sleeping on my side would probably greatly reduce the symptoms and all day fatigue. But unfortunately, it’s impossible for me to fall asleep on my side.

Does anyone else have the same or similar problem/sensation? I’ve read that some people get this shock sensation on when sleeping on their backs, but I haven’t read anything that resembles my situation. This only occurs when I’m trying to sleep on either my left or right side. It never happens when sleeping on my back. But like I said, I’m always waking up gasping because of the mild apnea, when sleeping on my back. It must be the tongue going back and the additional tissue or large tonsils.

By the way, I recently turned 36, but look like I’m in my late 20’s. I keep myself in good shape most of the year, and have really low body fat during the summer. I’ve always been a good athlete, and can still compete at a high level, so being out of shape or unhealthy isn’t a contributing factor. However, I’m always stressed and high strung. I’ve always had a quick fuse, and my mind is always working. That’s probably part of the reason why I’ve always had a hard time falling asleep. Also, I’ve been living abroad for three years now. But I’ve had difficulty falling asleep long before I moved overseas.

Any insight or info would be great to hear, especially if it can lead to a better quality of life. Thanks for listening to my long ramble. Take care everyone!

By anon295934 — On Oct 09, 2012

Mine are terrifying. I was officially diagnosed with myclonic epilepsy after a while going undiagnosed.

The best way of describing mine is like an adrenaline rush, then I get jerks in my head, like I am just about to drop. It's truly terrifying. I have suffered this for 15 years and am currently on clonazepam. I also suffer from the web in between my thumb and finger twitching, and oddly, my chin. Perhaps those two are stress, but I am a happy person and the jolts to my head worry me. Any advice?

By anon292621 — On Sep 20, 2012

I'm 13 and I sleep fine, but when I wake up again, I want to fall back to sleep. As I am half asleep, I start to dream, but when something bad or scary happens in the dream, there is a 'crack' in my head and I twitch and wake up! I've tried heaps of things to get rid of it but it doesn't seem to go away! Please help!

By anon288339 — On Aug 29, 2012

I am 27 years old, and when I nap or am sleeping, I get these shock/vibrations feelings in my head and sometimes my whole body twitches.

I kind of want to know what other people do to make it stop or go way, or even if I am at the right website. Please help.

By anon269889 — On May 20, 2012

I am 38 years old and am very glad to see I am not alone. I have been under a great deal of stress this last year, dealing with a toxic relationship while being a single mother to two teenagers including a 15 year old who has had some emotional and hormonal issues the last few months. What I can now see are hypnic jerks have been occurring for the last month.

I have a mitral valve prolapse and when highly stressed, the palpitations are more severe and more frequent. Approximately six weeks ago, I was driving with my sons during one of my 15 year old sons more argumentative days and I was suddenly forced to cross three lanes of traffic to the shoulder as I felt a rush of adrenaline go through my body. This was my first serious panic attack, although I had experienced others in my life much more mild.

A few days later, I felt light-headed and my heart began thumping. As the condition worsened I was convinced it was a heart attack and called 911. In addition to my heart pounding, I felt light headed and my vision was blurred. I was taken to the hospital where an EKG, chest x ray and blood work found my issue was just a panic attack. I have now had these attacks daily and at least four nights a week, just as I am falling asleep, my heart begins to pound. I am forced to sit up, feel as though I am dying, full of fear and can only explain it as "vibrations." At first it feels as though my heart is actually beating that fast, but I check my heart rate and it is not in line with the vibrations. I eventually calm down but am terrified to go back to sleep.

I went to the doctor this week and was placed on 10mg of buspar per day, my metoprolol was increased to 50mg per day and it was discovered that I had a long term serious sinus infection. This was actually good to hear. The swelling of my sinuses explains a lot of my lightheadedness and "off balance" feelings.

The hypnic jerks have happened to me twice tonight and I am terrified to go back to sleep. It is almost 7 a.m. and I have a huge day tomorrow. I can't deal with this. My symptoms are so severe in so many different aspects that I am terrified I am going to have a heart attack soon. --Mandi in Tennessee

By anon263603 — On Apr 25, 2012

This can be caused by neuroleptics, i.e., anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds.

Just do some research on point of return drug withdrawal, Peter Breggin, and/or the Mind Freedom Organization.

By anon256453 — On Mar 21, 2012

I have been getting these hypnic jerks for years which leave me exhausted during the day. It may be harmless and common, but it's no fun when you have to wake early and concentrate on your work. I find that if I eat something before I go to bed it does help. Don't ask me why. It just works.

By anon255372 — On Mar 17, 2012

This happens to me all the time almost on a daily basis. Sometimes parts of my muscles around my body shake for no reason. This happens while I'm awake sometimes, as well.

I also get that strange blood sound randomly at any moment, and if I'm slowly drifting into sleep but still aware, I notice that my body jumps all of a sudden. Apparently at night, it does it a lot. Any help on how to stop this? I'm 17, by the way.

By anon250993 — On Feb 28, 2012

Its great to read all these posts! And I found 100-plus people with this condition. That's too cool.

Now the situation is it started a month ago. It stopped initially after three days, but started again and now it's continuous. I have a heavy head and thumping sounds and a rush of blood in every vein of my body whenever I wake up with the jerk. I can't sleep for like two hours after going to bed, but I need solutions please send me some. I am following up.

By anon241477 — On Jan 18, 2012

I'm 18 and currently a college student. I take very seriously the sleeping cycle. I truly believe that we should have a constant, everyday pattern to go to sleep around the same time and get about the same number of hours of sleep.

Lately, however, I've been falling asleep in class and at home for no apparent reason since my sleeping cycle hasn't changed. The problem is that I have that hypnic jerk thing. Not too long ago, I threw a book that I was reading because of involuntary reflexes to my face. I even scared myself because I had no idea what was happening. Ever since I was little I've had trouble falling and staying asleep through the whole night. I have a segmented sleep. Usually, I wake up right in the middle of my sleep cycle.

Does this have anything to do with falling asleep in class? I've had it my whole life and now it is when it comes out? My boyfriend also tells me that I kick all the time while asleep, and that once he saw me crying. Is this normal at all?

By anon240984 — On Jan 16, 2012

From today on, all of you will no longer refer to yourself as being crazy -- unless of course, you can hear voices telling you to harm someone.

Most of you just have an overactive nervous system as a result of a deficiency in a nutrient or mineral. Some of you because of external circumstances.

No more talk of you being crazy. You are not. You just have to find a way of giving your body what it needs and find a spiritual path. I personally like Dr Hawkins or the Law of Attraction.

By anon233313 — On Dec 05, 2011

Calcium/magnesium deficiencies: Try to take the supplement with something acidic.

By anon232233 — On Nov 29, 2011

Please help me. I'm 13 and I obviously don't have a lot of stress. This happened to me last night many times in a row. At around 3:30 a.m., I woke up randomly and immediately tried to go back to sleep. As soon as I was about to fall completely asleep, I heard a high-pitched ring in my ear and a vibration or electrical feeling in my brain and it continued to move throughout my arms, causing me to shake my head unconsciously attempting to remove the electrical feeling. Since it was 3:30 in the morning, I was very tired, and the only thing I wanted to do was fall back asleep again. I didn't care or even acknowledge what had just happened to me so I attempted to go back to sleep. The electrical feeling, the beep, and the shaking returned again. This continued to happen every time I tried to go back to sleep(the next 10 times). In the end, I gave up trying to sleep.

By anon230002 — On Nov 16, 2011

It sounds like everyone needs a good, daily dose of magnesium citrate. Don't take magnesium in "magnesium oxide form" but use magnesium citrate. You should get 2:1 magnesium to calcium. It should stop muscle tremors, jerking, teeth grinding and heart racing.

By anon225685 — On Oct 28, 2011

Oh my gosh I feel a lot better. One person on here has the exact same symptoms that I do. They had an earache and were taking amoxicillin, and so am I for the same reason. I have had this problem before, especially when I would take Benadryl. It feels like the instant I fall asleep I start to fall into this vortex, and there's a sort of small electrical shock and I wake up terrified and with my heart beating quickly. Occasionally my heart will pound in my chest so hard that it hurts.

I've tried sitting up in bed to combat that falling feeling, but no matter what position I'm in it still happens. I think it's medicine related, and even my Ativan doesn't seem to help. I'm pretty sure it's the antibiotics. Glad (well, not "glad") that someone else has experienced the same thing and I'm not completely crazy.

By anon224454 — On Oct 23, 2011

Thank God I found this article. I've experienced being scared awake by what sounds like an electrical hum and a body shock and it's almost like my heart skips a beat and everything goes black for a split second and then I snap wide awake. It is the most frightening thing I've ever experienced in my life, like I'm dying or something. I suffer from major depressive disorder and have been on SSRI's for almost 20 years, and my doctor says it could have to do with abnormal serotonin and dopamine levels in my brain.

By anon221985 — On Oct 14, 2011

I thought, and still think to some extent that I am experiencing nocturnal seizures. Usually I have between 60-100 a month. In May this year I was put on tegretol 800mg which took my 'fits' down to 15/20 a month.

This month my neurologist thought they might be sleep starts and I have been put on Clonazepam along side the tegretol. This month I have had just three 'fits'. I am not sure if I am experiencing seizures or sleep starts.-- Nick

By anon212051 — On Sep 05, 2011

I am 53 and have it started for me about two years ago. I was lying in bed and all of a sudden, my left arm flung itself on my chest and then back to my side as I was dozing off to sleep. When it first happened, I got really scared and immediately went to see my primary doctor thinking I must have some kind of neurological brain disorder like MS or who knows what. The doctor ordered an MRI and it came out negative. His suggestion: Go take some calcium. So if I think about it, I take some tums before I go to sleep but that doesn't always help.

Anyway, the jerking has been happening ever since on and off. There doesn't appear to be a rhyme or reason to what might be triggering it or what part of my body jerks.

It was mostly my legs and arms but more recently, I have been snorting all of a sudden while lying down on my back. I have been able to mitigate it by lying on my side but even then I have found myself taking sudden involuntary breaths of air. I am wondering if it is sleep apnea.

One day a couple of weeks ago, something even stranger happened that doesn't follow the usual pattern of jerking during the initial doze off phase. I was deep asleep and suddenly I woke up to feel my entire stomach contracting and actually hearing bubbling sounds from my stomach as if the liquid had been pushed up my throat. I didn't feel nauseated, but it was a strange feeling, nevertheless.

By Caitlin1113 — On Jul 09, 2011

I'm 12 and I have had these all my life. it's perfectly normal. I usually get them when I'm drifting off to sleep and im falling or tripping over something and my body jerks as if I fell from the ceiling into bed. It's normal and nothing to worry about.

By anon191626 — On Jun 29, 2011

Just wondering if this would be the same thing if it happens more during the day. For example, I can be out and about and then all of a sudden my upper body will just twitch. I have had it happen to me on rare occasions when I’m sleeping but the rest is when I'm awake. A few times I have even felt one coming on and then it stops. It's like a slight tingling feeling down the center of my back. When I was having back issues the doctor said it was all in my head.

By anon186820 — On Jun 16, 2011

I’m 34 and have had twitches for a couple of years now. Mainly in the head but legs as well if in bed. These tend to mainly happen after a night of heavy drinking. I tend to smoke cigarettes quite heavily when I'm drinking as well so this may contribute. Lack of sleep is probably also a factor as I tend to stay up late.

The next day, I’m fine to start with, but later in the afternoon when the hangover kicks in the twitches often begin and depending on how much I drank (usually a bottle or two of red wine after beers in the pub) I can have them regularly (every few minutes) and they can be quite violent and a tad embarrassing in public. They can be controlled to a certain extent by trying not to twitch, although I will still twitch but not quite so violently.

I think tiredness is a key factor as they are eradicated pretty much by a good sleep. I suspect dehydration plays a part also. I can still have the odd minor twitch days afterward, however, when I have had adequate sleep and have not drank or smoked cigarettes for up to five days so not sure what's causing these.

I have experienced the electric snap/shock in the brain as well but not often. I first experienced it when I was 26 and clubbing all weekend. This was when the twitching started too though it would only happen when drifting of to sleep in those days. Once again for me at least the problem seems to be caused by over excessive drinking, sleep deprivation and dehydration. and probably nicotine too. Time to try to drink sensibly I think, and stop watching telly till stupid o’clock!

By anon184996 — On Jun 10, 2011

I actually had this for a short period of time about 27 years ago. It was a very bad period in my life. My life long panic attacks finally culminated into a full fledged nervous breakdown one summer. At night as I would start to doze off I would hear a very pronounced electrical snap. Each time I would get out of bed to see if my TV (or some other appliance near by was shorting out.) This only happened about five times in a one month period. I had forgotten about it till I saw an article in a tabloid about it. I was just amazed. I thought I must be going nuts my or my home/s electrical system was screwed up. It never happened to me again.

By anon184278 — On Jun 07, 2011

I'm 27 years old and i have been experiencing hypnic jerks for years now. I have been under a lot of pressure from work lately and it has gotten worse.

I have a lot of difficulty falling asleep. Sometimes when i doze off, i suddenly feel like a bolt of electricity just shot through my entire body and i am wide awake again. For a while now i thought i was having some kind of seizure. It's such a relief to find out I'm not the only one experiencing this.

By anon179305 — On May 23, 2011

I get the hypnotic twitch mostly early in the morning when i am somewhere between sleep and awake. Sometimes it feels like and loud snap in my brain. Other times it can be my hand, leg or neck, etc., that moves. Happens more often if i am dehydrated.

By anon173597 — On May 07, 2011

I had a very bad case. We lost our nephew whose baby was five days old at the time. my mother had a stroke and my husband and I sold our house and down sized. I couldn't sleep for three months. I had hair loss and weight loss and I gave up driving because i was so sick. I started having panic attacks and dreaded going to bed.

I tried playing calm music all night but nothing helped. a neurologist tried some meds but I had bad side effects from them. Now I take Natural Calm at night and 5mg. xanax. i can sleep most nights but the jerking comes once in a while, anyway. I just stay calm and know i will sleep in a night or so. I had restless legs for years before this and the doctor told me involuntary muscle movement can be like a more advanced case.

By anon173228 — On May 06, 2011

I'm 15, (female) and I've had HJ for almost a year. I read that you only get it about one or two times a night, but I get it at least 10-15. They're not severe, just occasionally my arm, or my leg or my shoulder will jerk, and it wakes me up. It kept me up till 3 a.m. last night, and it's really sleep-depriving. I eat a lot of sodium, so I was wondering if that's maybe what causes it? I don't think I stay up late enough to be exhausted every night.

By anon168866 — On Apr 19, 2011

I think I have this. This is the first night I've noticed it, but every time I close my eyes and start to doze off, I suddenly shoot awake, heart pounding. It feels like my heart or breathing stopped for an instant or something, and when I wake up, I feel this weird emptiness.

I'm taking amoxicillin for an ear infection, and I didn't get any sleep last night, so I'm super tired. I think these might be contributing factors.

By anon166852 — On Apr 10, 2011

I also feel much better reading this. I thought I was losing my mind! This is worse than Chinese water torture!

I am 41 and have had this happen (body, shoulder, arm, or leg jerk/twitch)in the past but was so infrequent I never thought about it. Three weeks ago, it started every night almost constantly. If I have a bunch of beers on a certain night I am able to fall a sleep immediately for five to six hours with no symptoms. Once I wake up to go to the bathroom, etc., it will hit me though and usually a lot.

This started right after I had a bad lung cold that kept me up most of all night for over a week. Plus, I had a best friend die at the same time. I have been taking Magnesium and seemed to help a little and actually had one full night of no symptoms. Was getting the trots bad though and cut the dose in half. I may try some recommendations I have read and I pray this subsides for me and all of you! Thanks for the info!

By anon157728 — On Mar 04, 2011

I'm 40 and when i go to sleep my left leg starts jerking and it goes up to the roof when it jerks, but now i feel quite relaxed when i read so many posts related to this problem.

By anon156706 — On Feb 28, 2011

I had an interesting string of these hypnic jerks last night and am fairly confident of what was causing them.

I had been practising archery during the day and was focusing on "unconscious release" whereby you use a set of cues to get your mind off your fingers as they relax, resulting in the eventual string release catching you completely by surprise.

Each time I fell asleep last night I had just one instantaneous moment of dreaming in which I was aiming an arrow and getting surprised by an unconscious release. I was glad that my mind was etching the lesson into memory but dismayed that it had me jumping halfway across the bed many times over last night.

The most curious side effect was that upon waking I had a sense of dread that something was amiss with my arrows or my firearms, as if I had dropped something in the bed or couldn't account for a dangerous item.

Reading about some of your experiences put all of last night's adventures in perspective for me. Thanks! If anything I am happy that even at my groggiest I am always trying to account for safety first.

By anon152956 — On Feb 15, 2011

I find if i am really tired, i get these HJ's once or twice a night. It sometimes happens if i read before bed making me nice and sleepy. I don't mind them and think they feel funny. Also it is a good excuse to kick the wife now and again! lol

By anon150699 — On Feb 08, 2011

Happens to me every once in a while when I'm drifting off in class! Then, I wonder if anyone saw it and if I looked like a freak.

By anon150464 — On Feb 08, 2011

I too am in my late 50s and this started in the past few months. After reading everyone's symptoms I feel much more relieved. I also noticed I'm getting ringing in my ears all the time. I can go through periods where it doesn't happen and think I may have to hydrate more and take the calcium mag supplements as so many suggest. I'm grateful for all of you sharing and I hope we can all help each other. Thank you

By anon141655 — On Jan 11, 2011

I had terrible night jerks throughout my sleep since my last surgery. I have started taking a substance called natural calm. it is a magnesium supplement powder.

Since the very first time I took it, I noticed a difference in the disappearance of my jerking. It can be found at GNC and it's $23 for 7-10 weeks worth. I could not believe how quickly it worked! I figured it would take a couple of weeks, but it was immediate. Amanda M., Cartersville, Ga.

By anon139133 — On Jan 03, 2011

I can remember as a teenager (16) staying overnight at a friend's house and he would jerk as he fell asleep. At the time I thought it was weird. Then at about age 20, I began to do the same thing. While I don't always notice it, my wife points out that I do it every night. It drives her nuts and keeps us apart while in bed.

By anon137860 — On Dec 29, 2010

This is the best thing that happens to me every day! The muscle jerking on the verge of sleep has been happening since I was a child. It began sporadically and has been increasing in frequency as I get older.

It happens nightly now and if for some reason it doesn't happen I get upset, and I don't sleep as well. I love the feeling and I know I am deeply relaxing when it happens.

Sometimes it is my entire body, one leg or both of sometimes it is my upper body, sometimes just my eyes. I think it is amazing!!

By anon137127 — On Dec 26, 2010

This has been happening to me for years. Sometimes my whole body jerks, and sometimes just a limb. It's always just as I'm on the verge of sleep, and it doesn't happen all the time. I'm wide awake for a few minutes and then I go back to sleep with no further problems. I don't have the falling sensation, but sometimes I have a flying sensation. Glad to know it's not just me!

By anon136779 — On Dec 24, 2010

the people saying they get this in the hand or whatnot. i don't think you know what the majority are going through. i would lie in bed for 15 minutes trying to sleep and as soon as i do bam! I jolt awake, scared out of my mind. It's like someone viciously scaring you awake.

By anon134845 — On Dec 16, 2010

I am 43 years old. I've been having this problem for a couple of years. now. It was pretty scary to think (at the time) that I was the only one.

I've read several posts, and the consensus seems to be pretty much the same, however, when I fall asleep it's like I go from conscious to sleep very quickly and my whole body jolts violently. It's very scary. It actually feels like I'm dying then brought back to life. Only this happens numerous times when I sleep.

I wish I could be sure then I wouldn't be so scared to fall asleep. I've already gone the cardiology route. Nothing to sneeze about there. What makes it so strange is that it's only been happening for the last two years.

By anon133579 — On Dec 11, 2010

I'm glad I'm not the only one driven mad with insomnia due to being jerked awake every time I almost fall asleep. What a living nightmare. I have read that a problem with hypnic jerks is called periodic limb movement.

By anon132426 — On Dec 06, 2010

My name is randy and i am 23 and just stopped a serious case of binge drinking. I am now having such a rough time. i can never sleep. every time i do, i feel tingling in my chest and them bam! a hypnic jerk.

These jerks happen so suddenly and are so vicious that it often scares me so bad that i wake up and will do anything to avoid sleeping. My eyes are so red and bloodshot that it feels like they're going to pop out.

These jerks only occur when i lie down and my body starts to rest. i mean it even happens when I'm awake. I have no idea what to do. these jerks so are so bad, so intense and it never stops.

i don't do any drugs at all but can stay up for days on end to avoid having the living life scared out of me when trying to get rest.

Could someone please help me with this god? i feel like a prisoner in my own body. It feels like the second i let my guard down to rest someone hits me with a tazer. Gaah! what to do?

By anon131364 — On Dec 02, 2010

i get these a lot! no big deal. your brain can misinterpret readings and send signals to your legs and arms tell you that you are falling and twitch to catch your fall. it's kind of a funny feeling. KMC

By anon128254 — On Nov 18, 2010

my son does this every night. i lie down with him and read a book and as soon as he does his one or two twitches, i know he's asleep. i think it might be hereditary because it happens to me but i think its only when I'm really tired.

By anon121827 — On Oct 25, 2010

Even my dog does it as she falls asleep, so I don't buy the sleep disorder diagnosis.

By anon119971 — On Oct 19, 2010

I get these jerks a couple times a week, usually dreaming about slipping, tripping, or having something jump out at me. On one occasion, I was actually awake. It was odd. I was watching TV late at night. I felt my foot twitch and I felt like I was falling. Weird, right?

By anon119386 — On Oct 17, 2010

I've always been one to fall asleep quickly. Usually within a minute or two of relaxing in bed and I would be snoring. Can't tell you how this bothered my wife. I'm still like this. Occasionally, I have the hypnic jerk back awake. Never seem to remember what I was dreaming, although I know that I was.

The most logical reason I've heard is about your brain interprets the sudden loss of consciousness as your body dying. So, it jumpstarts you back to consciousness. Usually only happens to me when I'm really tired and fall asleep faster than usual. Overall, I only experience them about one to five times a year.

By anon116886 — On Oct 08, 2010

Your comments have been really helpful so i hope what i have to say will help.

Sometimes when i would first start to fall asleep, i would feel this sensation of falling and really weird feeling in chest and sometimes stomach, and sometimes i would jerk straight out of bed thinking i was dying, and sometimes it would go on all night.

Well i will tell you some of the things that have helped me. i take natural calm which is a powered mag. drink and i also take a homeopathic made my Hylands called Calm just before bed.

But just recently i figured out what might be causing it. Every time i would get stressed i would change my diet. i would eat a lot of junk like chips and fast food, which contain a lot of msg and high fructose corn syrup, so I did research on these two things and was i ever surprised! now I'm sleeping great, just as long as i eat a diet free of these two thing. It's really worth checking this out. thanks for all your help.

By anon115427 — On Oct 02, 2010

during my exams whenever i used to take a rest for some time, i usually fell asleep and got awake with a jerk. what could be the reason for it?

By anon103466 — On Aug 12, 2010

I used to drive truck for an oil field company. Or work was very labor intensive when we would get to a location, and we often worked well beyond the legal hours for a truck driver.

Many times being very tired I would catch myself falling asleep at the wheel and would jerk awake. I'm lucky I didn't kill myself or someone else. It's been five years since I worked for that company and I still have a horrible time falling asleep and staying asleep.

I think my body and mind are just hard wired to jerk awake now. I never had this problem before I worked for that company.

By anon103401 — On Aug 12, 2010

I also feel sudden jerks when i go to sleep, even when I try to sleep during lunch break in the office. It happens in the beginning of the sleep. Sometimes it occurs in the leg, sometimes in my hand or even my back. It is not painful at all so i never thought of taking any medicines. Rather I like it. Is it something supernatural or a medical condition? I am confused. Thanks everyone for sharing.

By anon101749 — On Aug 05, 2010

Wow, now I know what it's called! I am usually dreaming of some big goalie save or catching something just before it hits the ground when I get the 'jerk'. Happens almost every night as I just fall to sleep and drives my wife nuts. I may do it one more time too during the night.

By anon97550 — On Jul 20, 2010

This also happens to me on some nights and until today i was worried.

It seems to happen when I'm thinking too much, and my head feels as if there's an electric signal trying to pass through it and i jump up.

Whenever I've asked people if they have a similar experience I'm met with blank expressions, so thanks for the site!

By anon96225 — On Jul 14, 2010

I have the same problem. i sometimes have it several times when trying to sleep, then I can go weeks without it.

I normally get a loud vibrating electric sound in my head which goes down my spine and throughout my body. it's weird; I always thought it was because of an electric shock I got when I was a child which stopped my heart, and i was actually dead lol,

i also have extreme nightmares -- not the usual monster stuff but dreams about death of people I've never met, plagues, murder, my death. I have even dreamed about countries being destroyed by nuclear weapons.

I never go into a deep sleep and can always remember my dreams right down to the taste and smell and the feelings. I also suffer from a condition known as fibromyalgia if that has anything to do with it -- I don't know

By anon88678 — On Jun 06, 2010

I have been having this hypnic jerk for some time now. I've been ignoring this jerking during falling sleep until now. Almost all the time, my legs would jerk, and not too much on my upper body.

I'm trying to find out what's causing this jerking movement on my legs and I think I know why. I was diagnosed with sciatic nerve syndrome, it's that big nerve that runs from my butt to my heel. This nerve for some reason was routed wrong.

Instead of running over my butt muscle, it runs between muscles. So when I'm sitting too much or doing any physical activity that makes those muscle contracts, they pinch that nerve.

So, my advice is to check if you have sciatic nerve syndrome or pinched nerve. It might be the reason for your leg jerking.

By anon84804 — On May 17, 2010

Had a good chuckle at some stories in the above posts. I too have made a fool of myself over the years as a result of the hypnic jerks. I have a history of insomnia and in the past three days haven't slept much, if at all.

As such have been having these HJ's and they are keeping me awake. thththth. Hate it. Think I will go overdose on Magnesium and super hydrate. Thanks for the advice and giggles.

By anon82855 — On May 07, 2010

I'm 15 and have been having really vivid, horrific nightmares almost every night since i was young. when i was 13 something horrible happened to me and the dreams got worse. yesterday i fell asleep in my boyfriend's arms and he said that i twitch a lot -- and not just every 30 seconds. Almost every second something in my body will twitch.

my friend last year when i had sleep overs said that i talked in my sleep, and some of the things i said weren't normal. now i don't have anyone sleep over, from what she said, but after yesterday i think i'll avoid sleeping in front of anyone.

i must admit yes, i am sleep deprived because i don't want to visit my nightmares, but i need help. i know i do. but how?

By anon82560 — On May 06, 2010

I am 40 years old and in in great shape. I exercise regularly, but have had panic attacks and anxiety for the last 10 years. Usually they are brought on by severe stress so I can keep them at bay most of the time.

For the last two days, however, I have experienced these jerks while trying to fall asleep. It scared me, so of course the anxiety kicks in and I cannot fall asleep for up to two hours until I am so tired that I finally do.

I am grateful for this article because i realized that on the two nights this happened, I was probably dehydrated from drinking alcohol those two nights, and I didn't get much sleep the night before.

I am going to try to hydrate a lot today, take some magnesium tonight before bed and not eat right before bed to make sure I get good sleep. I will let you know how it goes.

Maybe we are all dehydrated?

By anon81634 — On May 02, 2010

me boyfriend was the one to notice mine.

he says i kick him at night and I've never really paid attention but now that i do, i notice i do twitch, but it never wakes me up. when I'm dozing off i can feel it, but i just continue trying to sleep. He was the one who brought it to my attention that i twitch a lot when I'm sleeping.

By anon75085 — On Apr 05, 2010

i get them when I'm getting ready in the morning, and i am only 14, which is way younger than you guys are posting. So, it doesn't seem like a hypnic jerk since it occurs in the morning, but I can't find out what it is and I would be very thankful if someone would comment or help. thanks.

By anon74029 — On Mar 30, 2010

I experience whole body twitches when i am wide awake. I am unable to stop them but i can sense when they are going to happen. I have experienced this all of my life.

By anon71424 — On Mar 18, 2010

hi my name is marie. i have them too for long to for long time. these are not nice at all. i got help with this a while from the health store and i now i use calm natural magnesium 4 times a day. this is a powder you can buy at any health store in canada. this really does work. if you try please let me no how it goes. if you find that 4 tsp is too much in day, because some times too much will give the scoots, so just cut back. this stuff in 1 tsp in a glass of boiling water about 3 oz. let sit for a minute then stir and drink like you are drinking tea. i take 4 day and 3 of them are after each meal, take the last one about one hr before going too bed, believe me this does work. hope this helps. marie

By anon71077 — On Mar 17, 2010

My name is marie and i have the same every night, so i know what you all are going through. this is not a nice thing.

i went to the health store and bought some calm natural without the calcium. this is a magnesium citrate powder. i have been taking it four times daily at 1 tsp in boiling hot water to activate it.

did you know that too much calcium will cause your jerks and muscle spasms? try this. It will work after a few days. if you take too much just cut back and also take this at least half an hour before going too bed. this really does work. hope this helps. marie

By anon66855 — On Feb 22, 2010

last night i was drifting off to sleep or had just fallen asleep and all of a sudden and wake up quickly but i did like a full body jerk and rip my eye mask off my face at the same time, and face the other way, like getting up if there was a fire or something, and i had no idea why i did this. it was more full on than the normal hypnic jerk, as i remember nothing and i took my eyemask off and all, very old, help?

By anon66113 — On Feb 17, 2010

This just started happening to me about six months ago. It was first quite sporadic but then recently it began to happen every single night. I would jerk awake every hour or two several times throughout the night.

I do have a history of anxiety and insomnia and as a student my stress level can often be high. Finally, after severe sleep deprivation, I went to a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for acupuncture and he also gave me a herbal remedy.

After my first acupuncture treatment and two days on this remedy, no jerks, no insomnia and stress and anxiety are significantly reduced and an overall sense of well-being.

I am not a doctor but this remedy has worked well for me and I thought would share.

By anon65591 — On Feb 14, 2010

Does anyone find the hypnic jerks get worse if you have been drinking alcohol and smoking?

By anon64877 — On Feb 10, 2010

I stopped Prozac cold turkey. At first I seemed okay, But then came all the nasty withdrawal systems:

Body going cold/hot, restlessness, lump in the throat, involuntary body movements, diarrhea, insomnia, just totally going nuts and lots of fear and anxiety and yes, panic attacks. it was a total nightmare.

Then I discovered 5 htp and calms. I take 1 calms in the morning 1 calms at lunchtime, one 25 mg 5 htp at 6 p.m. and 1 calms prior to bedtime.

No more panic attacks, no more insomnia, no more anxiety or panic attacks. I am also a lot happier and peaceful within myself.

I no longer drink coffee,or consume greasy foods or soda pop. My sugar intake is next to nil.

5 HTP is also great for losing weight and like calms, it's natural. I follow the anxiety diet.

Hope this info helps.

I also take vitamin b6 and Vitamin C every day, plus Korean ginseng chamomile tea with honey and lemon and drink mint tea.

Panic attacks are no joke and I am glad I will never be on SSRI medications ever again.

5 htp and calms are great. they gave me my life back after two months of hell.

Yogurt, chewing celery, sucking on sugar free mints or vicks cough pastilles also help in relieving dry throat or lump in the throat. Also eat loads of grapes. --Phillip.

By anon63193 — On Jan 31, 2010

I am 37 years old and when my whole body jerks in the middle of the night at least three or four times a week. I also experience leg muscle and hamstring cramps.

It is very annoying and wakes up my wife as well. Has anyone else experienced cramps from hypnic jerk? Is there anything I can do help this? I would like to get a good night's rest for a change. --Ted

By anon62146 — On Jan 25, 2010

i'm 21 and been getting them recently and they scare the crap out of me. it stinks

By anon61686 — On Jan 21, 2010

My name is marie and I have them every single night. The jerks get so bad that they stop me from staying in bed. I spend lots of nights on the sofa but not too much relief. Is there any thing I can get?

I have been to the doctor and he said nothing was in the blood work that showed up. I take calcium and magnesium too, six in total every day and and vitamin e too. where can i get some help so I can get some sleep? thanks. marie

By anon58387 — On Jan 01, 2010

Ive experienced this my whole life. When i was little my mother would watch and know i was asleep after she would see me shake just once, each night. Never knew it was normal till now.

By anon53378 — On Nov 20, 2009

One word: Clomipramine.

By anon51549 — On Nov 06, 2009

This has been happening to me for years and I could never figure out what it was, or if it even happened to anyone else. I was really scaring me. Thank you for this article, it helped a lot. Now I know it is normal and I am not alone.

By anon50733 — On Oct 31, 2009

This was great because I have always had this happen. I was telling my girlfriend that I saw this on House and he explained it. She was saying it's just a show. But like most shows they use real facts.

By anon50600 — On Oct 29, 2009

whenever I hunch over my desk in class and start to fall asleep my right arm whips out, I've hit two people in the face. D:

I'm not sure if that's a hypnic jerk or not?

By anon49886 — On Oct 23, 2009

Liked the article. After reading comments, I know am not alone :-)

I experience two kinds of hypnic jerks.

1. The falling sensation happens rarely to me. But I drank a lot of alcohol on a couple of occasions and the next day, I just could not sleep. I was tired and I wanted to sleep and just as I was about to fall asleep, I experienced it. On both these occasions, I experienced 15-20 jerks before I could fall asleep.

2. Short afternoon naps. These are very rare. And when these happen, I do not experience the falling sensation. But my brain seems to make a gurgling noise, my breathing stops and I need to struggle to catch breath. When I wake up, I feel extremely fresh - more fresh in a 15-20 min nap than in an 7 hour night sleep. These occur when I want to sleep and wake up in 30 minutes.

By anon49446 — On Oct 20, 2009

I started the jerks in my head six months ago, after taking some SAM-e pills (though not certain the pills caused it). It doesn't happen every day but it's horrible. I also feel that my head is kind of burning all day. I have to take Klonopin to go to sleep. They say sleep deprivation and stress can be the cause of the jerkiness, but I say it also works the other way around.

Everyone needs to deal with stress, and I had been perfectly fine handling stress and sleepless nights in the past. What changed? My question is, is it possible to get rid of the jerkiness completely if I take care of stress and coffee for some time? --Ida

By anon48706 — On Oct 14, 2009

I am a shift worker and my hypnic jerks only ever occur when i go to bed early and need to set my alarm clock before an early shift. They never happen at any other time. Maybe some part of my brain is resisting sleep to avoid missing the alarm.

By anon45894 — On Sep 21, 2009

I am 45 male, white TBI. 12 years ago (not sure if that has to do with whats going on though), nonsmoker, non alcohol, meds from doctor only. For the past year i've suffered from electrical shocks through my brain when i try to fall asleep. this happens before i fall asleep -- it's not something that wakes me up. The shock is horrible and the sensation covers my whole brain. it is very hard to sleep and i haven't had restful sleep in over three years. i am constantly waking up but now with this shock syndrome happening, i'm scared to even try to take a nap! i dread bedtime! Help me please!

By anon44179 — On Sep 05, 2009

I have these type of hypnic jerks at night while lying in bed before I go to sleep. The jerks can occur almost anywhere in the body. My whole arm can jerk from one side to another or my leg will twitch. It even occurs in my throat where I involuntarily snort during a sudden quick inhalation of air. It scared me so much I thought I had multiple sclerosis and went to the doctor who gave me an MRI which came back negative. Now I am at a loss to figure out what is going on. The symptoms come and go - I can go for long stretches of time without any symptoms. I am writing this now because last night was pretty bad.

By anon41837 — On Aug 17, 2009

Hi, I hope you are using all this information to develop a more solid theory.

Information about me: 21 year old male

Narcotics: Cig_packet/day, chronic coffee drinking (stop before 8 p.m.), alcohol consumption 2 times/week in summer and 1-2 per week in winter.

Sedentary lifestyle: Work on Pc no exercise or little.

Medicine: I used a light anti-depressant for IBS during university (now its 3 month recess and do not need it). I think its called Nortilen 10mg.

Lately, I think maybe three nights in a row, I'd be trying to sleep and I get the sensation of mosquito bites (no physical evidence in the morning) and just as my conscience descends into sleep, I hear a loud bang Boom! like a large wardrobe falling in my room and almost immediately after from my neck to my entire body feel a single violent electric shock that wakes me up leaving me with all my limbs sore (especially back) and sometimes a stitch in my belly. Regarding jerks, I've never suffered, but I do move a lot during the night.

I've never experienced two in a row, but I would hate that!

By anon40857 — On Aug 11, 2009

I've recently started having these too! Just as I'm falling to sleep- Wham! My whole body jerks me awake. Kind of scary. After reading this article, I'm going to do more research and relax more :)

By anon40654 — On Aug 10, 2009

I had my first major hypnic jerk and I never want another one. It was literally like someone put paddles on my heart and shocked my entire system. So Yuck!, my whole nervous system went like daggers. I sat up awake from the force of it and thought my heart would leap out of my chest. I have realized it came on when emotionally overloaded. Feels like a power surge! so I now I laugh more, stress less.

By anon39648 — On Aug 03, 2009

I've read all the comments - and am reassured that my husband is okay. He jerks his legs so bad - and almost every night - that when it starts, I wake up and move as far away from him as I can (in a queen size bed, it's not that far!). He has kicked me so hard - usually in my calves - I've learned to wake up when it starts and move over - or else! I think I need a bigger bed - or a separate one!

By anon39572 — On Aug 03, 2009

i'm not sure if i'm having hypnic jerks or something else. It's not when i'm falling asleep at all. But, when i'm doing everyday normal things like having a conversation with someone, if I close my eyes for a second during the conversation, let's say just to express my meaning more i'll jerk, hard for one second and i can't talk. Or if i'm laughing and close my eyes i'll jerk. my whole body. my neck seems to tense up along with my jaw. Sometimes when i'm talking and blink i'll jerk and lose train of thought and repeat the word i'm saying. I just recently learned my 20 year old brother does the same thing. Im 23 and it's quite embarrassing. it only happens to me maybe once a month or once every two months but it happens to my brother 2 to 3 times a week. He's staying with me for 6 weeks and he'll just say "i just got one of those things." It happens when he closes his eyes too. Genetics? Any ideas?

By anon37896 — On Jul 22, 2009

I was experiencing the same symptoms of the hypnic jerks that were described above several times a night for the past 6 years. They were getting increasingly worse (up to 8 times a night). After doing some research I went to the local health food store and bought Calms Forte, a pill form of natural sleep aid, and Calms Plus, which is a powder drink that increases your magnesium level in your body. I haven't experienced 1 single hypnic jerk since I started taking these two things and they are healthy for you and completely natural. I hope this can help someone else! --T

By anon37532 — On Jul 20, 2009

I used to get those every night when I was younger, just before really drifting off to sleep I would suddenly get a falling sensation and jerk myself awake.. It seemed to slow down the older I got.

By anon34251 — On Jun 19, 2009

It's been happening to me too, but only recently this year. I'm 31. At first it was just that I was doing that "jumping/falling" thing right when I was falling asleep with a high frequency. This alone made it difficult to go to sleep. Later I started waking up in the middle of the night, for no reason. Then when going back to sleep (which I can do quite easily as long as I don't get up), I sometimes hear a strange buzz in the back of my brain, very low frequency. Then *bam* I'm in half waking dream that is entirely convincing, so much so that I can never distinguish that I'm in it. And it's always in my bedroom, not some far away place. One time, a shadow figure jumped from my wife's side of the bed, I punched it and then woke up. Luckily, I don't actually move in real life (sleep paralysis or something like that), or that would be bad. One time, I dream-walked (not physically) into my den where there bunches of animals (raccoons, squirrels) attacking my cats. Of note, we're in our 7 month of pregnancy first child, so I might have some subconscious stress going on, but consciously I'm prepared and very excited about my first baby. It's crazy what your mind can conjure up.

By anon34209 — On Jun 18, 2009

I think I have hypnic jerks too. Every time I do, I dream I just fell off of something, but I wake up suddenly before I ever hit the ground. It's crazy though, my entire body just jumps like I got electrocuted or was extremely scared (which I was..kind of because I didn't really have time to react). The thing is it wasn't until very recently I've been getting these hypnic jerks. Since I sleep late to talk to my friends and wake up extremely, I'm guessing that that's what's causing these jerks. Thank goodness it's summer so I can sleep in as late as I want.

By Chrissy69 — On May 26, 2009

I get Hypnic Jerks most nights, and it is driving my wife mad! I've been to the doctor and he gave me Rivotril which are normally given to treat epilepsy. Can anyone suggest any natural remedies or anything to avoid ie; coffee? Thanks.

By kf4pbb — On May 17, 2009

I get this every night to where i jump off the bed about 1 foot and back down again...and it does this for about 2 hours before i drift off to sleep. one day i had told my DR. about this and he gave me script called Temazepam 15MG. i take 2 of them 1/2 hour before bed and it completely stops them done! i can sleep now and wake up the next day happy... i would try it and the meds are not that costly. i think 30 days supply of them are about $15.00, not bad.

By bkdotson4 — On May 12, 2009

I am not sure I get it to be honest. When i started Zomig about three days into it I started getting the Jerks all night long. My husband timed them from about 5 to 8 min from the time I would close my eyes each time. I got no sleep at all.

So how does this make you sleep? That, I don't understand, because it wakes me up. Then when I finally rest again boom strong Jerk again and back up. Almost like I would get to a certain stage of sleep and couldn't go past that stage. I stopped taking the zomig and am on Prozac. Did good for a few weeks and the past three nights I am going through this all over again. My eyes are so bloodshot the vessels actually hurt from where they are ruptured. Any advice *please?*

By anon29777 — On Apr 08, 2009

I get these jerks periodically when I'm alone, but it also happens almost every single time that I fall asleep with my boyfriend, even if it's just falling asleep on the couch watching TV. Maybe because I'm trying to resist sleep as to spend time with him (we live 2 hours apart and only see each other once every few weeks)? I just thought it was a little strange and it seems so arbitrary.

By LooseCannon — On Mar 07, 2009

I have had hypnic jerks for several years. I don't always feel tired or stressed-out when I have them. But I frequently have had trouble falling asleep in the past, so I really enjoy them when I have them because I know I will instantly fall asleep.

It feels like someone is applying defibrillators to revive my heart because I convulse so high up off the mattress.

I recently had about 7 or 8 multiple ones, one right after the other. I wish I had had a video camera on me. Since then I had one so massive that it shook the window when landed back on the mattress. I think they're fun -- like a ride at the amusement park that you don't have to wait in line for. If you've never had one, you don't know what you're missing.

By anon27703 — On Mar 04, 2009

I also started having this jerk at night. The funny thing about it is, I have a Labrador dog, and when it was a puppy she did the same thing right before falling asleep. I went to the vet the next day and he said the dogs nervous system was reacting and it is normal.

When it started happening to me, I was scared. One thing I noticed about the atricle is that most seem to have this start when, under extreme stress, and two, after the second or third night of no sleep. I get it when I do not sleep for several nights in a row... Like last night, was three without sleep and stress during the day. If anyone knows what supplements to use please post. I read that magnesium is for relaxation. The author of the book Ultra Mind by dr mark Hyman might have been able to explain this experience. krzz

By anon25551 — On Jan 30, 2009

The explanation in this article is great thanks... now i know there is nothing to be scared of!!

By anon24320 — On Jan 10, 2009

I guess the Hypnotic jerk also effect younger people. im 16 and when i lay my head on my desk at school almost asleep, i jump up suddenly.all my friends laugh at me. I don't know what is going on. there was also this one time at school a boy was walking past my desk, when i jerked, i kicked him in the leg.

By anon21629 — On Nov 18, 2008

I have had "hypnic jerks" for around six years but over the last two years these seem to have intensified to mini fits, i have a consultant who has prescribed mirtazapine due to slight depression but has now alongside this prescribed me Carbamazepine to help stop the convulsions, when i have the jerks i usually see a big red dot and wake up sometimes shouting and my speech is sometimes incoherent. i also have slight memory loss. i'm not 100% this is hypnic jerks1 Can anyone help, i feel like i'm going mad it's 4.05am as i'm typing this and just had 4 attacks.....

By anon20110 — On Oct 25, 2008


I experience this jerk with my whole body just as I pass from consciousness to an unconsciousness (fallen asleep) state. I usually am very tired when it happens and going to bed late. It has concerned me that I might have some rare disease coming on.....but after finding this article....I am sure it is just a natural way of my subconsciousness taking over by tensing my muscles so that when they relax it can take over. Good explanation from above !

By anon19937 — On Oct 22, 2008

I am studying hypnotheraphy and I have noticed to similarity between the Hypnic Jerk effect and what is called 'rapid induction' (into hypnotic state) or 'instant induction'. During rapid induction the hypnotist literally jerks forcefully the hypnotic subject's arm (thus the whole body) and commands it to 'sleep'.

I have experienced Hypnotic Jerks when overtired or stressed, hyperalert by some upsetting experience and consequently resisting sleep. I am inclined to believe that the Hypnotic Jerk is just what it says: the body's way of inducing sleep instantly by jerking itself and relaxing muscle tone. The strong spasm or jerk averts the conscious function (which hangs on to being awake) for enough time so that the subconscious may receive the 'command' to sleep.

By gvmont01 — On Oct 06, 2008

I'm actually able to voluntarily invoke this phenomenon while awake. I experience them at night from time to time, and one night many years ago found I was able to duplicate it right afterwards by quickly placing all my muscles in a deep relaxation. The whole thing happens in 1-2 seconds at the most and makes me feel I'm falling, then my legs/neck/arms suddenly jerk. I heard about this on a HOUSE episode and looked up hypnic jerk, where I found this site after googling the name. Very interesting, I suppose.

By anon18896 — On Oct 01, 2008

I had this the other night hence why I looked up this article. I experience the sensation of falling in bed every now and then but not too often. The other night, I was almost asleep, almost but not quite just kind of gone. I felt my body jerk, heard just like the article said, a loud popping sound, thought it was my knee and then WOMPHF felt like I landed hard back into bed.

Terrifying is what it was. I thought I had a heart attack, my heart was beating so fast. No sleep for me that night. I've always had very vivid dreams, and fall into altered states of consciousness often (spiritual/meditation) ... so this was quite the experience for me.

By anon10439 — On Mar 27, 2008

My best friend said she has them all the time. I use to get them a lot, as well, but lately, they come rarely.

But I primarily see babies & infants jerk in their sleep.

By anon9517 — On Mar 08, 2008

The only time that I seem to get these spasms is not only when I am about to go to sleep ( which I attribute to a switching from an active to a relaxed state), but when I am dehydrated as well.

I have noticed from my research so far that there may be a link between hypnic jerks, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, and Myoclonus, which may be caused by not enough oxygen going to the brain. Drinking more fluids may help.

By anon3706 — On Sep 12, 2007

I'll call myself Anonymous 2. Please note that I AM NOT A DOCTOR, so nothing I say here should be considered medical advice.

I have a history of panic attack disorder with agoraphobia, and I first had this hypnic jerk happen to me about twelve years ago. Since then, it happens to me periodically, and if I'm recalling correctly, it always happens either when I have not been giving myself enough time to sleep or when I am particularly stressed.

When it happens, I know that for the next few days I've GOT to make myself spend as much time in bed, whether I'm sleeping or not, as I can. If possible, I will spend a couple of days (like a weekend) sleeping, getting up if I wake up and feel like it, and going to bed immediately when I feel tired, even if I've only been up for an hour or two. If I manage to do this, the third night I usually am still rather tired but manage to have a relatively normal night's sleep. Then I'm careful for the next three or four days to get a normal night's sleep, and not to overdo it. For me, after that one week of being careful, I am usually back to normal, and it doesn't happen again for some time.

One thing that I do try to remember is to stay away from caffeine during this period, as the adrenaline rush you get from it stresses you out more, which only makes the problem worse.

Having consulted "Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing" (PFNH), I also make sure not to eat certain foods before bed, especially foods containing tyramine, which is a stimulant and which the authors feel can keep you from falling asleep. Tyramine is found (according to the book) in foods like potatoes, cheese, tomatoes, and ham. PFNH suggests that eating foods with tryptophan, like milk, bananas, and tuna may help you sleep.

Again, please note that I AM NOT A DOCTOR, and what I've included is not intended to be medical advice. I'm just passing along things that I've read and which have worked for me. Every one of us is different, so what works for me might not work for you.

Best of luck to you.

By anon3029 — On Aug 06, 2007

My hypnic jerks started about a year ago. I have them every night before I go to sleep and even just before my Sunday afternoon nap. It is as if my mind is alert but my body knows sleep is coming. I am in my late 50's. Is it normal that this has started at my age?

By kether — On Jun 27, 2007

Hi I get this muscle twitch over and over as soon as I get to sleep and catch a glimps of dream material, it can last for houres over and over and I get fed up and get up with no sleep under my belt.I do have a history of panic and anxiety problems and maybe this is a biproduct of this? But is there anything I can do to help this? For I have had this off and on for a few years now.

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