Does your body jerk as you’re falling asleep? If so, don’t worry – this common phenomenon is known as sleep starts.

Quick, strong contractions of the body or parts of the body while falling asleep, sleep starts are also known as hypnic jerks. There are reports that up to 60-70% of people experience hypnic jerks.

This guide covers what hypnic jerks feel like, what causes them, how to prevent them, and when you should see a doctor. Read on to learn more about sleep starts.

What do Hypnic Jerks Feel Like?

So, what do hypnic jerks feel like? It may seem random, but they usually only affect one side of the body. Many people experience dreams or hallucinations simultaneously with hypnic jerks, or report having a sense of falling or seeing bright lights. Hearing banging or loud cracking noises is also common, as is a rapid heartbeat or fast breathing.

Are sleep starts painful? Thankfully, no. Some people report having tingling sensations, but hypnic jerks are common and normal, and anyone of any age or sex can experience them.

What Causes Hypnic Jerks?

We don’t yet know what causes hypnic jerks, although there are a few theories. However, we do know several factors increase the likelihood of hypnic jerks, including:

  • High caffeine consumption
  • Vigorous nighttime exercise
  • Not getting enough sleep at night
  • Excess stress or anxiety

Can I Prevent Hypnic Jerks?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for hypnic jerks. However, there are a few ways to help prevent them. Follow these tips to reduce or eliminate occurrences of sleep starts:

  • Get to bed earlier and sleep more hours
  • Engage in relaxing activities like breathing exercises or stretching
  • Reduce the amount of caffeine and nicotine you consume
  • Do a quiet activity before bed, like reading a book

Should I Visit a Doctor?

Sleep starts happen as you transition from being awake to being asleep. These hypnic jerks are widely considered harmless. However, hypnic jerks can have symptoms that are similar to symptoms of other, more serious conditions. If you experience any of the following, consult a doctor:

  • Strong jerks while awake
  • Jerks that move to other parts of the body while awake
  • Other involuntary movements besides hypnic jerks
  • Bedwetting
  • Injury due to a hypnic jerk
  • Biting the tongue during a hypnic jerk

Who Can Help with Trouble Falling Asleep?

Sleep starts are brief jerks or twitches while falling asleep that can be disruptive of sleep, but are harmless otherwise. There is no cure for hypnic jerks, but you can prevent them by getting better sleep, and cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Sleep Dynamics has the sleep treatment solutions you need. Contact Sleep Dynamics today for more information.