Is Having Hypnagogic Jerks Before Sleep Normal?


After coming home from an exhausting day of work, the majority of the people just want to finish their work as soon as possible, have their evening meal and head straight to bed. Usually, the mind is also tired along with the body which is why you feel tired and sleepy.

Getting full eight hours of sleep is mandatory as per the recommendations of health professionals. Lack of sleep means it affects not only your physical health but also your work performance and social life.

Therefore, some people cannot function without sleeping and have to take a break in between finishing their tasks at home. However, before sleeping you might feel a sudden involuntary knee jerk reaction. This might scare you and wake you up completely and you may wonder what caused the reaction.

Knee jerks before sleeping or what is also called hypnagogic or hypnic jerks are commonly experienced by people. Some jerks are mild and as noticeable while others are intense and may wake people up. What causes these involuntary reactions?

The exact cause of these hypnic jerks is not known till now. According to research, there are a number of factors that can affect them and make them occur more often. Continue reading the article to know more about hypnic jerks.

What Is Hypnic Jerk?

The body has a number of involuntary reactions. The hypnagogic reaction is one of them which occurs before a person is about to fall asleep. It is a twitch of muscles that takes place when the body goes from a wakeful state to a sleeping one.

The main muscle movement which is responsible for causing hypnic jerks in people is the same one which causes hiccups. It is known as myoclonus.

In many of the cases, the jerks are mild and the person experiencing them may not even notice them. Others may have twitches strong enough to actually wake them up from sleep. There are also a number of signs which may accompany a hypnagogic jerk. Some of them are:

  • Increased heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Heavy breathing
  • A feeling of falling
  • Having dreams about falling down

However, these symptoms are not connected with any other health condition and are also considered to be normal. You do not need to worry if you experience these symptoms.

According to a study from 2016, hypnic jerks affect both men and women. In fact, around 60-70 percent of the people experience hypnagogic jerks before falling asleep.

What Causes Hypnic Jerks?

People who have hypnagogic jerks strong enough to wake them up often assume that it is a symptom of an underlying condition. In most of the cases, it is completely normal to have these involuntary reactions even if the reason for having them is not yet clear.

On the contrary, there are also a number of theories that provide a potential explanation for having these muscle twitches. Following are some of the possible causes of hypnagogic jerks in people:

Stress and anxiety

People with stressful lifestyles may find it harder to fall asleep. In addition, since they stay alert, their muscle twitches may be more strong than others and the affected person may also wake up as a result.


After exercising, almost everyone feels stimulated and active. Secondly, this may also make it difficult for the body to relax especially if the work out is performed later in the evening or at night leading to having hypnic jerks before sleeping.

Disturbed sleep patterns

In the modern day lifestyles, people often do not concentrate on their need for sleep. Hence, many people are sleep deprived or have extremely disturbed body clocks. This can also increase the likelihood of hypnagogic jerks.

Stimulating substances

Certain foods and substances may stimulate the brain and body such as caffeine and nicotine. Additionally, they may also lead to hypnic jerks.

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Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Literature graduate with expertise in Creative Writing. Her writing interests are mental health, ethics, and news reporting. You will find her work associated with relevant research and references that shows her passion for delivering authentic information to readers.


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