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Why Do People 'Twitch' When Falling Asleep?

twitch falling asleep hypnagogic jerks

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#1    Still Waters

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 02:36 PM

A hypnagogic jerk is an involuntary muscle spasm that occurs as a person is drifting off to sleep.

Some scientists believe certain factors, such as stress, anxiety, fatigue, caffeine and sleep deprivation, may increase the frequency or severity of hypnagogic jerks, but conclusive research is lacking on the subject.

Researchers are also unsure why hypnic jerks occur, but a few theories exist.

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#2    Himawari69

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 09:15 PM

I'm no scientist so I don't know why, but it's kinda funny when you see someone jerk in there sleep. Sometimes I feel my arms or legs jerk when I'm drifting to sleep, I don't think it's sleep deprivation or caffeine tho as I don't drink coffe nor do I have problems sleeping.


#3    Skep B

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 09:20 PM

Himawari, sounds like muscle spasms as your body is getting ready for rest

As for jerks, i lean towards the explanation already suggested

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#4    stevemagegod

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 02:57 AM

my theory is that its the bodies way of testing us if we are truly are a sleep before Sleep Paralysis kicks in to keep us from acting out dreams.

Edited by stevemagegod, 01 September 2013 - 02:58 AM.


#5    magnoliaReverie

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 03:02 AM

I get the falling sensation occasionally but it's always accompanied by a dream where I'm falling.  I never know if I feel like I'm falling because of the dream, or I dream that up because of the sensation I'm feeling.

Something I started thinking about while reading this was the startle reflex a lot of newborns have.  They suddenly throw their arms back and get this terrified look of their faces as if the feel like they are falling. It happens while they are sleeping and usually wakes them up, (until they learn to sleep through them) but I know it can happen when they are awake as well. Makes me wonder if it's related to hypnagogic jerks at all.


#6    brlesq1

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 09:02 PM

All I know is that it wakes me up and then I can't get back to sleep...grr.

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#7    Frank Merton

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 09:04 PM

I've heard of this but never experienced it, so it is not universal and may in fact be uncommon.


#8    little_dreamer

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 11:05 PM

It happens to me a lot.  It's like your body says "Last call for consciousness!".   I bet it wakes up a lot of people who might otherwise fall asleep behind the wheel.

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#9    Drayno

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 11:45 PM

My girlfriend actually has this problem..

When she's asleep she'll jolt around a lot.

I've always assumed it had to do with dreams.

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#10    Frank Merton

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 11:54 PM

Kinda like cats do?  I always figured they were dreaming about catching mice.


#11    Professor T

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 01:34 AM

View PostFrank Merton, on 01 September 2013 - 09:04 PM, said:

I've heard of this but never experienced it, so it is not universal and may in fact be uncommon.

Wow.. Are you saying you have never, ever, experienced it?

I can experience it quite often, and the trick to doing so is to follow your self to sleep.. By that I mean laying back, staying still, and staying aware while your body starts to drift off to sleep.. The trick to is to stay still, don't move.. Also, to keep your thoughts on your body and awareness of the moment, not drifting off to past, future, or self indulgent thought streams.. More often than not, your thought's end up elsewhere then WHAM, I usually experience a partial or full body hypnagogic jerk..


#12    Frank Merton

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 02:15 AM

Generally I lie down and wham I'm out.  I think it comes of getting up early every morning 'cause I can't sleep in daylight.


#13    spacecowboy342

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 04:21 AM

I saw something on the science channel yesterday about the involuntary spasm that happens sometimes when you are drifting off to sleep. They were saying it was a vestigial reaction from a time when our ancestors slept in trees and falling asleep could lead to falling out of the tree


#14    Frank Merton

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 04:50 AM

Chimps sleep in trees and build nests, I guess so they won't fall out.  I would think an involuntary twitch would be more likely to cause a fall.


#15    spacecowboy342

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 05:13 AM

View PostFrank Merton, on 02 September 2013 - 04:50 AM, said:

Chimps sleep in trees and build nests, I guess so they won't fall out.  I would think an involuntary twitch would be more likely to cause a fall.
More like a startle reaction when drifting off to prevent falling. Don't know if chimps experience this or not





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