That jolt you feel just before dropping off. That startle when you’re safe in bed that feels like a falling sensation. That electric shock that wakes you from the earliest stage of sleep. Hypnic or hypnagogic jerks are a fact of life for many Americans.
They can be episodes of frighteningly vivid life-like dreams or a simple physical reaction that causes a mild surprise. Around 70% of people experience this phenomenon.
Nobody knows for sure but there are several theories as to the causes of the jolt while sleeping. It happens most often when we are stressed, in an uncomfortable position, over tired or anxious.
The viscous circle is that a hypnic jerk which wakes you up can make you anxious about falling asleep, which leads to another jerk. Anxiety leads to insomnia and the restless night and bad morning which result can all to quickly follow this cycle.
Some tips to help you minimize the effects.
- Follow good sleep hygiene, develop a routine and follow it every night.
- Watch what you eat before bedtime
- A magnesium, calcium or iron deficiency may be to blame. First try to improve your diet, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Or try a supplement, with those minerals and vitamin C.
- Heavy exercise too close to bedtime can have an effect. Try to limit heavy weights or cardio sessions in the evening. Conversely a gentle walk an hour before bed may help.
- Smoking or drinking will reduce the quality of your sleep. One drink before bed may help you to fall asleep and avoid the hypnic jerk, however it will reduce the quality of your later sleep. If the jerk is severely dehabilitating then this may be a way to get things under control.
- Meditation can help relive those negative feedback loops that will make you dread going to bed.
- Maintain a positive outlook, and get some tips of relaxation or yoga. The techniques taught in even the most basic class may be enough to allow you to get your mind in a state where sleep comes naturally.
- A relaxation CD played at night may be the answer. It will give your brain something to do instead of worrying and may quickly become an essential part of your sleep routine.
- If the sleeping disorder is having a negative effect on your life then see a doctor, who may prescribe some medication to help you get that much needed sleep.