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Learn Why Your Body Jerks while You Are Falling Asleep

A lot of people have experienced body jerks when falling asleep. A body jerk is a sudden rush or a jerking motion while you doze off in bed. Scientifically known as ‘hypnic jerk’, this phenomenon will be experienced by 70 percent of people at a specific point in their lives.

What Is a Hypnic Jerk and Why Does It Happen?

Hypnagogic stage is the space between wakefulness and slumber and it is very easy for the brain to get ‘jerked’ back into wakefulness by an involuntary twitch of the muscles. This wakes up the brain as if something is happening. By being confused, the brain thinks that the body is falling and it tenses the muscles to brace for impact when they are actually relaxing for the sleep phase.

Though it is usually not a serious problem, in some cases, it can be a symptom of specific health problems. Let’s take a look:

Restless leg syndrome

This medical condition triggers throbbing ache in the legs while sleeping. This can be a genetic problem or it can occur as a sign of kidney failure, diabetes, excessive intake of alcohol, as well as sleep deprivation.

Brain lesions

Studies point out that these jerks are more common in people with brain lesions. They happen when a brain tissue area has been damaged due to a physical trauma or an illness. Other accompanying signs are headaches, pain in the neck, nausea, loss of memory, and seizures.


When an individual’s level of stress and anxiety are high, the chances of a hypnic jerk elevate, according to researchers.

Sleeping disorders

Narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder, can lead to abnormal brain activity that involves neurotransmitter changes and a higher chance of jerking. In this case, they will be followed by symptoms like paralysis and hallucination.