- Dr Joe Whittington revealed how to reduce your risk of suffering ‘hypnic jerks’
- These ‘glitches’ are involuntary muscle contractions as we fall asleep
A doctor has revealed why we sometimes experience sudden, involuntary jerks or ‘glitches’ as we fall asleep, and how to prevent them from happening.
Dr Joe Whittington responded to a complaint from someone about their boyfriend having these ‘hypnagogic jerks’ by offering his advice for anyone concerned by how much they are ‘glitching’ in their sleep.
Hypnagogic jerks, also known as hypnic or myoclonic jerks, are associated with certain habits or experiences, but the exact mechanism behind them is unknown.
He began by watching someone’s TikTok video acting out her and her partner napping together when all of a sudden he shudders in his sleep.
Dr Whittington, known as Dr Joe online, said: ‘There’s three things you can do to help minimise this.’
Dr Joe Whittington revealed how to reduce your risk of suffering involuntary ‘hypnagogic jerks’ as you fall asleep
The medical man’s first piece of advice was to reduce caffeine intake and use of other stimulants such as nicotine
The medical man’s first piece of advice was to reduce caffeine intake and use of other stimulants such as nicotine.
The reason behind this link is not well understood.
One theory as to why we have hypnic jerks is that the relaxation of muscles as we fall asleep is misinterpreted on a non-conscious level in the brain, leading to this fast, involuntary muscle contraction.
Another touted explanation is that the response is to dreams or something similar as you fall asleep, before your body has fully shut down – as if your brain is falling asleep faster than your body.
Dr Joe’s second recommendation to his 1.7 million followers was to not do physical activities before going to bed.
This might be counterintuitive because broadly exercise is beneficial when it comes to sleep with regular exercise associated with improved sleep quality.
However, it does increase alertness and, therefore, exercise close to sleep can put off good sleep, or being able to fall asleep.
His third piece of advice was to reduce stress and anxiety.
According to the Sleep Foundation, both everyday stress and anxiety disorders can contribute to sleep deprivation, which in turn leads to an increased risk of hypnic jerks.
The add: ‘Some people who experience hypnic jerks frequently may even develop anxiety around sleep itself, which only increases their likelihood of experiencing sleep deprivation and more hypnic jerks.’
However, there is largely no need to be concerned about having these movements yourself, as up to 70 per cent of people do, with merely irritating yourself or your partner is usually the worst of the effects.