Does your body experiences a hypnic jerk while falling asleep? Here’s the reason why!!
Have you experienced the weird sensation of being jerked awake just when you’re about to fall asleep. Almost 70% of people experience such a sensation and some experience a milder form where a leg suddenly kicks out causing you to sit up wide awake.
These bizarre jerks, which may be the result of a sensation of falling are called hypnic jerks while falling asleep and are usually experienced during the state of hypnogogia, which is the borderline of wakeful consciousness and sleep. In such a state, you could be semiconscious of dreams or even speaking some gibberish in your mind. It’s a semiconscious state of neither being awake or asleep. It’s almost like being in Salvador Dali painting which incredibly may have been influenced by states of hypnogogia.
1 Your brain’s reaction to muscle relaxation
Involuntary jerks while asleep are your brain’s reaction to muscles relaxing in your body. Although it isn’t much of a health condition, it can in most cases startle you or give you a bit of a fright. A sudden sound or flash of light can trigger such starts which can also be brought upon by an involuntary muscle jerk.
When you’re asleep, your body remains in a state of paralysis. Despite of intense dreams, your body remains in such a state and will not move. Scientists explain that involuntary jerks are the cause of a brain battle because despite of being asleep and dreaming, there is no barrier between the state of dream and the outside world. As such, these starts are the result of two movements that take place originating from the brain.
2 Why we experience REMS
Due to the doorway between dreaming and the external world remaining open, our bodies may experience certain movement. This is why we experience REMs or rapid eye movements while dreaming because movements performed in dreams may try to escape into the dream world and is thus. reflected through REMs.
However, sleep jerks aren’t similar. Hypnic jerks instead are the body’s motor system, still trying to exert control, locked in a battle with sleep paralysis. This is what happens when we fall asleep. Instead of the body having an on/off switch, sleep instead is caused by a balance of power between two opposing forces in the body trying to outdo one another.
3 The brain battle between two opposing physiological forces
The motor movement in our bodies is controlled by the most advanced part of the brain and that is the reticular activating system, lying beneath the cortex. This is the center for controlling movements and actions like breathing. This system is fully activated while awake. Alternately, there is an opposing system called the Ventrolateral preoptic nucleus lying at the edge of the brain that triggers sleep. It is located near the optic nerve to obtain information of various times of the day which influences sleep patterns.
The fact that hypnic jerks while falling asleep are related to the sensation of falling or dreaming of a certain movement while falling asleep is because of our body’s ability to lend a sense of credibility to a corresponding movement. It is the actions of our bodies, trying to attract the hypnotic world of sleep and dreams, to build up a relation between the two.
4 Repeated hypnic jerks may be a cause of some underlying condition
Hypnic jerks if experienced a lot are believed to be the result of stress or anxiety which can result in disturbed sleep. Narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder is also the cause of hypnic jerks. It would be best to perform some relaxing activity such as listening to soft music before sleeping rather than watching late night serials which could also trigger such a condition. Restless leg syndrome is another condition associated with hypnic jerks. Restless leg syndrome is linked to factors of kidney failure, diabetes, alcoholics and sleep deprivation.
A more serious condition that causes hypnic jerks could be brain lesions near the reticular activating system. This may cause involuntary movement while falling asleep. Research has observed that those habituated to a decrease in exerting the brain as night approaches and avoiding coffee before sleeping experienced fewer instances of hypnic jerks while falling asleep. Sleep is important and the only way to achieve a good night’s sleep is to practice a healthy lifestyle conducive to keeping the body at rest during night.