If You’ve Ever Felt Your Body Jerk Suddenly While Falling Asleep, This Is What’s Going On

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Okay, so…you are asleep and you’re having the best dream of your life — and all of a sudden your body suddenly jerks and you wake up from a deep sleep. You are startled, you take a few breaths and this whole situation has left you to start the whole ‘falling asleep’ process over again. Yikes!

Not cool, right?

Why did your body suddenly wake you up?

Has this ever happened to you before?

This is a very common occurrence, and science knows exactly what is going on. Researchers have created theories regarding this activity. This phenomenon is known as the ‘hypnic jerk.’

Sometimes it can feel like you are falling from a great height. People everywhere have come up with all different ways to try and explain this feeling. One thought is that a demon is choking you while you sleep. We have all experienced it in a different way but the final result is that you end up waking up from your state of rest.

One theory suggests that the hypnic jerk is a visual perception of falling that people experience in their dreams just before they wake up. One possibility is that the parts of the brain working dream creation might be trying to make sense of the sudden urge to wake up, and this results in a dream scenario being created. This is only a theory right now, and more research needs to be done to confirm this.

Experts believe that there are some outside causes that could increase your likelihood for hypnic jerks, such as caffeine or tobacco. It’s recommended that you don’t drink coffee within a few hours before bed as you could increase your chances of succumbing to the phenomena.

Stimulant medications such as Adderall or Ritalin could also have a similar effect. Sleep deprivation is also a trigger as the condition is brought on when your body relaxes but a part of your brain remains stimulated.

The jerk usually happens when someone falls asleep too quickly from major exhaustion. In the first stages of sleep, your heart rate and breathing slows down quickly. Sometimes when someone is really exhausted, the brain proceeds through this stage of sleep too quickly and it confuses the brain into thinking you are dying and that systems are failing. Then the body quickly responds with a jolt of chemicals that make you jerk awake. This is the working theory of the ‘hypnic jerk.’

So there it is…now you know!