Why do i twitch while sleeping?
Have you ever woken up to find yourself twitching like a fish out of water? The jolted awake by a sudden twitch or jerk just as you were drifting off into dreamland? Or perhaps you might be the one who was kicked by your partner’s nocturnal kung fu. If so, congratulations! You’ve just joined the 70% of people who have encountered the phenomenon known as sleep twitches. Despite their common occurrence, scientists are still scratching their heads as to why they happen and how to stop them.
- Why we twitch in sleep?
- Causes of twitching in sleep
- Can you die from hypnic jerk?
- How to prevent twitching in sleep?
Why we twitch in sleep?
There are a lot of different explanations floating around online around about why we sometimes experience that jolting sensation just as we’re falling asleep. There is even a terrifying idea that it's your nervous system checking to see if you’re alive, isn’t that a thriller?!
Well, it turns out that what we thought was a signal of a sudden death is actually just a case of “Nocturnal Myoclonus” or what we like to call “Hypnic Jerk.” It is an unconscious muscle spasm that sometimes comes with a feeling of falling or stepping into nothingness, causing you to wake up. According to evolutionary scholars, our “hypnic jerk” phenomenon is a remnant of our primate ancestors trying to avoid falling out of trees. We don’t have proof to prove that they are 100% wrong, but are there any other causes?
Causes of twitching in sleep
Ah, hypnic jerks, the mysterious nighttime nudges that leave us feeling like we’re being attacked by our own muscles. While researchers can’t quite pinpoint the specific cause of the twitches, they do have some theories.
Apparently, stress and anxiety are major culprits. So, if you’re feeling particularly wound up, don’t be surprised if your body decides to have a little dance party at midnight. Caffeine and other stimulants can overstimulate our nervous system and cause involuntary muscle movements. Also, certain medications, especially those that mess with your nervous system, can also cause some serious twitching action. In addition, it seems that a lack of calcium can really get those muscles and nerves all fired up! Without enough of these essential minerals, you might find yourself getting all twitchy and spasm-y.
Can you die from hypnic jerk?
Suddenly falling or jerking awake just as you’re about to drift off to sleep is actually a common experience and one that can be quite annoying if it happens frequently. But here’s the question that’s been on everyone’s mind: can hypnic jerk kill you? The short answer is no.
Hypnic jerk is a completely normal physiological response that happens when your body is transitioning from wakefulness to sleep. As your muscles begin to relax, your brain sometimes misinterprets this as a sign that you’re falling and sends a jolt of adrenaline through your body to wake you and prevent a potential fall. It can be uncomfortable or even scary, but there is no evidence to suggest that hypnic jerk poses any real danger.
That being said, there are some rare cases where hypnic jerk may be a sign of a more severe medical issue. For instance, those who have sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome may have more frequent or severe hypnic jerks. In that cases, it’s crucial to address the underlying condition rather than just the hypnic jerk itself.
So, just take it easy and drift off to sleep, and if you do have experience a jerk, know that it’s completely normal and it won’t render harm.
How to prevent twitching in sleep?
You’re not alone in this unpredictable journey of sleep twitching, unfortunately, eradicating them completely from your life is as likely as finding a unicorn in your backyard. But fret not, you can still reduce their frequency and intensity with some tried and tested techniques.
- Stress management. It’s no secret that stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, and twitching in sleep is no exception. Get your sweat on with some regular exercise, and practice relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. Also, make sure you are not overworking yourself by maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
- Reduce stimulants. We all love our morning cup of coffee or our after-work cigarette, but this stuff can seriously mess up our sleep. If you’re prone to twitching in sleep, it’s time to cut back on caffeine and nicotine. And while we’re at it, let’s put down the electronic devices too. The blue light emitted from our phones and laptops can stimulate the brain and interfere with our precious Z’s.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. We know it’s tempting to stay up late and binge-watching your favorite show, but irregular sleep patterns can seriously mess with your body’s internal clock. So establish a regular sleep schedule, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and watch as your body starts to regulate itself and promote more restful, twitch-free sleep.
If your twitching is causing a disturbance in your sleep or making you feel like a bad horror movie, it’s time to call in the professionals. And if you're experiencing other symptoms like difficulty breathing or chest pain, don't hesitate to seek medical attention immediately. Also, if your twitching is accompanied by talk and walks in your sleep, it’s time to bring in the big guns. These could be signs of a more serious sleep disorder that needs to be addressed.