Sudden Jerks During Sleep: Its Causes And How To Deal With It?

Jerking during sleep is a phenomenon, medically referred to as hypnic jerks or Myoclonus. Though most people link these hypnic jerks to seizures and brain disorders, it may not always be the case. Hypnic jerks especially during sleep are relatively common and usually not alarming.

Sudden jerks during sleep are occasional, repeating once or twice as a person drifts into sleep.

However, when the jerks are more wide spread, they may be indicative of an underlying disorder. In such cases, immediate medical attention is recommended.

What Causes Sudden Jerks While Sleeping?

Jerking during sleep, especially during transition to sleep, is common and normal. While there is little understanding what causes it, there are various theories that attempt to explain it. The most commonly used explanation is that as the muscles start relaxing during sleep, the brain sends wake up signals to the muscles. These wake-up signals are meant to jerk the muscles back to attention.

Experts suggest that these jerks, usually once or twice a night are not signs of nerve malfunction or seizures.

Occasionally, these symptoms may be manifested in the form of flashes of light, loud noises or sensation of falling. While these symptoms may be very disturbing, experts suggest they are merely unique experiences depicting the same feature.

In rare cases, jerking during sleep may be indicative of a brain or nerve disorder. Like in individuals with restless leg syndrome, jerking during sleep may be more frequent. Other condition which is characterized by jerking during sleep is Palatal myoclonus, which is characterized by rhythmic contraction of the roof of the mouth.

These contractions may be associated with contraction of other muscles. These contractions are usually rapid as frequent as 150 per minute and continue during sleep. Generally, palatal myoclonus is considered a minor problem. However, some individuals may need to seek medical attention, especially if the condition is associated with severe discomfort.

How To Deal With Jerky Movements During Sleep?

Jerking during sleep is a sign of sleep deprivation. The more sleep deprived you are, the more likely you are to jerk during sleep. Here are some useful tips on how to deal with the condition,

  • Get a warm water bath just before going to bed. A warm water bath helps relax the muscles of the body and improves blood supply. In most cases, this helps to quickly fall asleep. Alternatively, soak your feet in a bucket of warm water, this can also help you sleep quickly.
  • Dealing with stress is essential to get a good night sleep. Yoga and meditation are useful techniques to calm the mind.
  • Aromatherapy essential oils like lavender and chamomile have a calming effect. Either add a couple of drops of the essential oil to your bathing water or sprinkle a few drops on the pillow and bed sheet. Aroma-oil dispensers may also be used.
  • St John Wort and Dandelion root are two herbs that have a calming effect on the mind. These herbs are also free of side effects. Consume them as recommended or in consultation with your physician.
  • Homeopathic drugs like Lachesis are good for individuals suffering from sleep deprivation and mild forms of insomnia. Consult a qualified homeopathic doctor for an appropriate dosage and frequency for your condition.

In case these simple measures are not effective, it is best to seek medical attention. It is possible that the jerking can be associated with a systemic disorder.

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