Are You a Sleep Jerk?

There are times, while falling asleep, when something rather creepy happens. As I doze off, I get a sensation of falling or tipping over. As soon as that happens, my body jerks, waking me up. It’s certainly a bothersome experience. So troublesome, in fact, there are times I then have trouble falling back to sleep. Did you ever experience that, too?

As alarming as that is, experts claim there is nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s quite common and as many as 60% to 70% of folks out there experience the same thing. What you’re experiencing during these annoying jerks is known as “hypnic jerks,” according to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders. This is a manual that is used to diagnose sleep-related issues.

What happens, is that certain parts of your nervous system are asleep while other parts are awake. A hypnic jerk, also known as a hypnagogic jerk, or sleep start is, for the most part, an involuntary body movement, usually of a large muscle group which happens as you go from being awake to being asleep. These movements may be in the form of swinging arms, kicking legs or something else. A sudden backward snap of the neck is common, as well.

Because these jerks are thought to be harmless, there hasn’t been all that much research performed on them. But, while not totally understood, sleep order researchers believe these jerks occur more often when a person is sleep-deprived but at the same time attempting to force their mind on some activity, such as reading a book, watching TV or even listening to a boring lecture.

So, some parts of the nervous system become asleep while other parts stay awake. This is possible because one’s nervous system’s control of muscle movements during sleep is different than it is during wakefulness. There is a type of miscommunication between your nervous system and your body’s muscles, resulting in twitching or jerking.

But, what about those dreams where you’re falling or tipping over? Usually, these dreams happen to those who are very sleep deprived. As you know, there are multiple stages of sleep: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 and the famous Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Normally, these stages last around 90 to 120 minutes and one generally cycles through them during the night. Hypnic jerks will usually happen between wakefulness and stage 1. It’s thought that some people, when sleep deprived, will go through each of these stages quicker than normal. Sometimes, some people will skip stages 2 and 3 and go straight to REM sleep, resulting in bizarre dreaming, for instance, the sensation of falling.

So, what does this tell you? Well, a hypnic jerk is an obvious sign that your body really wants to sleep. No way around this.

And, of course, we at Vermont Bedrooms can help you with that! Our selection of mattresses, futons and other sleep-oriented furniture can get you the right kind and amount of sleep your body needs. Either stop in at our physical location in Rutland, Vermont, or make your next mattress purchase right through this website. If you have any questions as to what kind of mattress is right for you, please feel free to call us during business hours at (800) 520-2337.