What Is It Called When You Are Jolted Out Of A Light Sleep?

You are starting to fall asleep when you are startled back to consciousness by a sudden jolt to your body or the sensation that you are falling. This common and harmless feeling experienced by many is known as a hypnic jerk.

Surprised Man Waking Up

A hypnic jerk is an involuntary twitching of the muscles. They usually occur just as you are falling asleep, during what is considered the hypnagogic (hypnic for short) state of consciousness. While scientists don’t know for certain why hypnic jerks occur, some of the potential factors are believed to be:


• Anxiety
• Stress
• Alcohol
• Caffeine
• Heavy exercise late in the evening
• Being overly tired or fatigued

While addressing the underlying cause may reduce the likelihood of experiencing hypnic jerks, it may not be possible to totally prevent them from occurring. Luckily there’s nothing to be worried about – hypnic jerks aren’t dangerous. They may be unsettling or annoying, but you don’t need to fear going to sleep just because they may happen to you.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.