Why Your Body Suddenly Jolts As You’re Falling Asleep

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I think it’s safe to assume that most of us have experienced that unpleasant feeling when we’re just drifting off to sleep, and we suddenly awake abruptly with a huge jolt. When this happens, it often feels like we’re falling down a dark hole or something, and the jolt is what makes the fall stop. If you’ve experienced this sensation before, you may have wondered why this happens. And we’re about to let you know!

Scientists have named this sensation the “hypnic jerk.” The hypnic jerk occurs when you fall asleep quite quickly during or after you’ve been in an exhaustive state. When you’re really exhausted, the brain will process stages of sleep too quickly, confusing the body into thinking that it and its major systems are failing.

Your body responds to this “threat” by jolting you awake with a burst of chemicals. These chemicals might design a dream to wake you up, so that both the body and the brain are awake and out of danger. It’s actually a pretty amazing phenomenon when you stop to think about it.

If you find yourself experiencing the hypnic jerk on a regular basis, researchers suggest avoiding any caffeinated beverages and tobacco in the hours leading up to your bedtime, as these things can make the hypnic jerk more likely to occur. Certain medications including Adderall and Ritalin have also been linked to an increased likelihood of experiencing the hypnic jerk.

Want to learn more about the hypnic jerk and its causes? Click on the video below!