Why Do We Jump When Falling Asleep?

What is Hypnic Jerk? Why do we feel like falling? Why do we jump when falling asleep? What is the fake fall thing?

A Saturday evening after a day’s hard work, you start to feel more and more tired as the sky gets darker, until the point you decide to lay on your bed to finally get a good night’s sleep. After tossing and turning for a while, you surrender yourself to the hands of sweet dreams. Then you BOUNCE all of a sudden! Many of us have experienced this phenomenon called Hypnic Jerk, but have you ever wondered what is it or why it happens?    

What is a Hypnic Jerk?

 According to Wikipedia:

 ”A hypnic jerk, hypnagogic jerk, sleep start, sleep twitch, myoclonic jerk, or night start is a brief and sudden involuntary contraction of the muscles of the body which occurs when a person is beginning to fall asleep, often causing the person to jump and awaken suddenly for a moment.”

Why do Hypnic Jerks happen?

There are various theories among people. Some say Hypnic jerks are an ancient reflex that keeps our ancestors falling out of trees at night. Others say your brain paralyzes your body to prevent movement during dreams, then decides to check if you are paralyzed yet, and it is a result that your body isn't fully paralyzed when it happens. Yet there is not much evidence to prove either idea.

What are the causes of Hypnic Jerk?

Known causes of Hypnic Jerk are overconsumption of caffeine (especially close to bedtime), stress, some dreams like where you fall, and anxiety disorders. You probably have experienced Hypnic Jerks at some point since this is a common phenomenon. Almost everybody gets Hypnic jerks from time to time although some people get them daily. But there is no reason to worry since there are no known adverse effects.

In the resolution, It seems like there is no running away from this “fake fall” phenomenon from happening time to time. Even though it can't be prevented, one can decrease the frequency of Hypnic Jerks by drinking less coffee before bedtime and staying away from stress.