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Why Do I Twitch in My Sleep?

Twitching-in-Sleep

Hypnagogic jerks are muscle twitches which occur involuntarily in our body. They are also known as myoclonus and have been experienced by most people some time in their lives.  In this article we have tried to answer the frequent question- ‘Why Do I Twitch in My Sleep.’ The most common movements that are made while we sleep are known as rapid eye movements (REM). While we are dreaming, our eyes begin to move as per the things we see. For instance, if you are playing volleyball in your dreams, your eyes will most likely move left to right with the volley, causing rapid eye movement.  But any explanation from REM does not answer the question ‘Why do I twitch in my sleep.’ One reason behind these jerks could be the two systems within our brains which battle each other constantly.

Symptoms of Hypnagogic Jerks

There are no solid symptoms of hypnagogic jerks since they are not a proper disorder but a natural phenomenon.  The thing to remember is that if you do experience a twitch in the night, you will naturally wake up. If the jerks are mild, however, you will hardly be affected by them in your sleep.

A noticeable characteristic of these jerks is that almost all of them are involuntary and not connected to each other in any manner. Thus, you could twitch one part of your body, followed by another.

Simple things that you might experience during a hypnagogic jerk are-

  • Jolt or jerk in a muscle or a body part
  • The sensation of falling from a great height
  • A momentary flash
  • Dreaming or hallucinating things which might lead to a jump, fall or shock
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Sweating while asleep

Why Do I Twitch in My Sleep?

There are several causes of muscle spasms and twitches; one of these is the brain battle that occurs in our body while we are sleeping. When talking about the causes of twitching at the time of sleep, the most common reasons include:

  • Anxiety or Stress – Thoughts that make you anxious or stressed assist in keeping the brain active even when your body is trying to relax and drift off to sleep. This causes your brain to send some alert signals to your body even while you’re dozing off.
  • Stimulants – Nicotine, and caffeine start impacting the ability of your body to fall asleep. Chemicals released after intake of these stimulants cause your brain to remain active and prevent it from reaching deep sleep. These could startle you time and again while you are resting.
  • Exercise – Daily exercise is essential for getting proper rest at night; however, if you work out too close to your bedtime, this cardio could have an adverse effect on your sleep routine. If you exercise excessively at night, your brain and muscles will take longer to fall into rest.
  • Evolutionary Hypothesis – Research from the University of Colorado has suggested the origins of hypnagogic jerks. The history of these jerks goes back to our evolutionary ancestors. It is proposed that hypnagogic jerk was a way for primates to readjust to their sleeping positions before they sleep in order that they don’t fall down a tree or get hurt during slumber.

Is There a Treatment for Sleep Twitching?

Like most problems, muscle spasms also come with appropriate methods to treat it. However, hypnagogic jerks are not an actual illness, which means that there is no proper ‘medical treatment’ but only a series of instructions that you should follow in order to get a healthy dose of sleep at night. The main focus of hypnagogic jerk therapy is making sure that it is prevented altogether. Follow the steps below to make sure that you remain free of this ailment-

  • Don’t Consume Caffeine – It is alright to drink coffee during the early hours of the day. However, if you have trouble sleeping, it is highly recommended that you avoid taking coffee after midday. Try to avoid other drinks that contain caffeine too, for example- tea, cola, etc.
  • Perform Breathing Exercises – You should try to meditate and perform certain breathing exercises before going to bed to ensure that you get a peaceful sleep. Once you’re in bed, first inhale for 10 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds then breathe out slowly for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise until your body is calm and ready for bed.
  • Have A Pre-Sleep Routine – Make sure that you are disconnected from all gadgets and electronics at least 30 minutes before your bedtime. Before you go to sleep, turn down the lights, slow your activities, and listen to light music.
  • Avoid Stimulants – Other than caffeine; you also need to avoid nicotine and alcohol, especially after midday. You might feel that you need a glass of wine before you sleep, but that only gives temporary relief and might cause you to wake up before time.

Twitching in Sleep Frequently Asked Questions

Are Hypnagogic Jerks Dangerous?

Most of the time, hypnagogic jerks are harmless and do not pose any danger. But some people also suffer from that chronic and violent hypnic jerks, which can cause great problems for people by impacting their home and work life. Sleep deprivation can also cause damage in the long run and prove to be dangerous.

Can Hypnic Jerks Be Called Seizures?

Hypnic jerks, which are also known as sleep starts, are harmless myoclonic jerks that almost everyone experiences in their life. They have some resemblance with myoclonic seizures, but they only occur once you have fallen asleep and are non-epileptic benign phenomena.

How Can Hypnagogic Jerks Be Cured?

You must take some very simple steps to reduce the frequency of hypnagogic jerks. This includes reducing caffeine, avoiding alcohol, exercising, taking relaxing herbs, shutting off electronics, and taking the right supplements.

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