Are Hypnic Jerks Ruining Your Sleep?

| Modified on Oct 15, 2021
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If you have ever quickly fallen asleep only to suddenly wake up with the feeling that you are falling or running into something, you have experienced a hypnic jerk. This is a common problem. Research suggests that nearly 70% of people experience a hypnic jerk at some point.  Some people, however, are affected much more than others. If you are afraid to sleep for fear of waking up with that frightening feeling, there are some natural remedies for hypnic jerks that might help you. These natural cures, including magnesium, lavender oil, and melatonin, should help you once again enjoy a restful sleep without hypnic jerks.

Is There a Natural Treatment for Hypnic Jerks?

While research is inconclusive as to why night starts occur, there are a number of treatment options available that may help you get a better night’s sleep. Some of the most important considerations you can make are regulating your alcohol and caffeine consumption, arranging your schedule to exercise earlier in the day, and making sure you have a comfortable mattress and bedding arrangement. Additionally, natural supplements, such as magnesium, calcium, lavender oil, and melatonin, may help.

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is an important nutrient that helps regulate muscle and nerve function. A daily magnesium supplement insures that you are getting an adequate supply of the nutrient, so you should experience fewer issues. You can take magnesium in capsule form, but also consider trying a calming magnesium or Epsom salt bath or magnesium oils for topical application.

2. Calcium

Calcium is another nutrient that helps regulate your muscle and nerve function. A daily calcium supplement is a good way to effectively treat hypnic jerks and alleviate nerve issues as well. You need at least 1,000mg of calcium a day.

3. Lavender Oil

Lavender is known for its soothing effects on the nervous system. Simply applying a few drops of lavender oil to the bottoms of your feet or even to your pillow before sleep should induce more restful sleep.

4. Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural sleep hormone. Taking a drop or two of melatonin before bed induces sleep and relaxes your entire body. You can find melatonin in most health food stores and pharmacies.

What Are Hypnic Jerks?

As simple as sleep seems, the complications that can occur in regards to sleeping are actually quite complicated. Like many other sleep conditions, hypnic jerks are often called by a number of different names including night starts, sleep starts, hypnagogic jerks, and myoclonic jerks. For simplicity’s sake, a hypnic jerk is any twitching of a muscle or muscles that occurs as you are just falling asleep.

When you experience a hypnic jerk, you most likely will be jolted awake. You may also experience the sensation of falling, jolting, or even crashing. In some instances, you may even wake with tensed muscles or continued muscle spasms, as with hiccups.

What Causes Myoclonic Jerking?

Because sleep is such a complex cycle, research is inconclusive as to the exact cause of many sleep disorders. The same is true with myoclonic jerks. However, research has suggested a number of factors that may contribute to the condition. Common factors that seem to exacerbate hypnic jerks include anxiety, stress, alcohol, caffeine, fatigue, exercise late in the day, and an uncomfortable sleeping position. Additionally, doctors typically accept one of two explanations for hypnic jerking: (1.) the jolting occurs as a normal component of your nervous system relaxing and calming down or (2.) the condition occurs because you brain becomes confused when falling asleep and sends signals to

Keep reading to find more suggestions for treating hypnic jerks from our readers or add one of your own remedies. If you have a favorite home remedy for hypnic jerks, please let us know!

References:

Jolted Awake by Hypnic Jerks?
Why Do We Twitch as We’re Falling Asleep?
Why Your Body Jerks Before You Fall Asleep

Related Pages:

Insomnia

Sleep Disorders


Avoid MSG

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Posted by Amanda (Tweed Heads, Nsw) on 09/29/2012
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Thank you so much for that post Citygirl, I think my problem may be related to MSG too. It's definitely worse on nights when I've had Chinese or take out food that day. Unfortunately it's in just about everything and my friends and family already think I'm a hypochondriac, I wish they would understand what it's like to have your whole body jerk awake and to be told it's all in your head.


Eliminate Benadryl for Hypnic Jerks

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Posted by Amanda (Nsw, Australia) on 09/17/2012
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How many people still suffering from hypnic jerks use benadryl or other diphenhydramine? This acts as sodium channel blocker which can interupt proper muscle function. If you have tried earthclinic remedies and still suffer these horrible twitches, please try stopping intake diphenhydramine, then try the remedies.

I was suffering from regular sleep-maintenance insomnia, and after a few days of using benadryl as a result I started getting these jerks, sometimes when falling asleep for the first time, sometimes all night long leaving no sleep at all. I stopped taking benadryl for a week to take it easy on my liver and I noticed the twitches were lessened. Then the other night I woke up with a bad runny nose and used benadryl to clear it up, well, I started having the twitches again really bad 20 minutes after taking it, I assume it had not been fully detoxed from my system yet.

If you try this please give it some time to work. I found I was still getting twitches after a week but their severity had lessened significantly (to the point where I could actually fall asleep). I still suffer from sleep maintenance insomnia but the twitches are getting less and less with absense of diphenhydramine.


Holding Breath

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Posted by Ab (Chicago, Il) on 09/30/2012
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I find that holding my breath for as long I can, continuously, helps me to fall asleep when suffering from hypnic jerks. It can be uncomfortable doing this, but I usually knock out after 15 or 20 minutes. Another thing that helps me get past hypnic jerks is sex.


Hypnic Jerk Remedies

Posted by Megan (Arlington Hts, Il) on 03/25/2012

I am going through the SAME EXACT thing right now. I am 19 weeks prego and thought my electrlytes were off, just got them tested about two weeks ago and then seem normal. My mag seemed a little low. I've been supplementing calcium/mag for about two weeks. It has helped some. I also take arestless legs at night and that helped but something was truly OFF last night as I was up till 2 am with the all over body jerks. I even ate a banana at 1am thinking it was my potassium? I just read on another forum that l-glutamine could cause nurological issues and i've been taking 4,500 mgs of l-glut for about a month. OP are you taking L-glutaamine too? I'm going to lay off the l-glut for a bit and see if the problem gets better although to be honest I thought the problem had gotten better, last night migth have just been a WEIRD glitch??? I also consumed gluten last night , just two crackers and some brie cheese , a very small amount and the day before pizza. I have been OFF gluten since november because of my hashimotos. I wonder if the gluten is doing something??? I'm going to try the epsom bath salt. I'm desperate.

Replied by Steve
(Las Vegas, Nevada)
03/25/2012

You could be having some adrenal fatigue which releases high levels of cortisol at night. This will often give you the jerking/twitching at night just as your about to fall asleep. It is often caused by high stress levels over a long period of time. Consider taking adaptogenic herbs, ashwaganda, rhodiola, or astragulus, they lower cortisol levels, check with your health care provider on this. Consider an even less invasive approach like EFT emotional freedom techniques or other energy healing modalites which reduces stress levels.

Replied by Tina
(Manila, Philippines)
07/14/2012

Hi Maria. I too have this hypnik jerks for several mos. Now. I read from a diff web site that someone just like you was prescribed of the same medicine and since then experienced jerks. He recommended mixing 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to a half glass of water and take it minutes before going to sleep. I tried it just tonight but it didnt work for me. I just thought that bec you too had the same cause for your jerks, it might work for you too. As for me, I'll try Steve's suggestion. I have hypothyroidism and they said that it can cause high cortisol. I'll try to take some adaptogens. Hope thiz works.

Replied by Tina
(Manila, Philippines)
07/21/2012

Hi Maria. I did what Steve suggested and after 1wk I was able t o sleep without experiencing any jerks. I chose to take ashwagandha. It was not an instant cure. But on my first few days of taking it I still wake up of the jerks but able to go back to sleep. I would also suggest that you have your thyroid checked. I have hypothyroidism and as a result of many yrs of not treating it I had magnesium deficiency, low ferritin and adrenal fatigue. Bec of this I started taking ferrous sulfate and lots of magnesium. The last I tried was an adaptogen called ashwagandha. I dont know if its a coincidence but this is also the first day that I change my thyro med from levothyroxine to natural thyroid called thyroid-s. Hope this helps you. Thanks also Steve. You dont know how much you have helped. May God bless you.


Hypnic Jerk Remedies
Posted by P (Middle, Fl) on 01/20/2012

Hello Again! I forgot to tell you that Castor Oil on your eyes and lid might work also; minutes after putting it on, my eyes start to curl with sleep! I read that it cools you off indicating to your body that it's time for sleep!


Hypnic Jerk Remedies
Posted by Maria D (London, Uk) on 01/19/2012

Hi, would you please be able to begin a topic on HYPNIC JERKS? It's a life wrecking condition for so many people as it totally prevents one from falling asleep. The person will be able to fall asleep but will wake up *the second* he/she starts to drift by this jolt/jerk that. So the cycle goes for hours and hours. I really think this should be a topic on its own and not under insomnia as the person is able to actually fall asleep but keeps waking up from these jerks.

I would love to hear Ted's opinion on these hypnic jerks.

I have struggled with these for several years and they truly ruin my sleep completely. I know that alkalizing the body helps a lot. The things is, it always gets much much worse after I work out. The harder I work out the worse they get. It makes me wonder if the body cannot clear lactic acid, or wheter it's some kind of electrolyte imbalance.

I usually can keep these jerks under control by massive doses of Natural Calm magnesium. However, it gets really expensive and I usually must take doses so high that I get a loose stool the following day.

I am just about to try Ted's alkalizing baking soda/apple cider vinegar formula although I am not sure exactly what the best ratio would be for this.

I used to have perfect sleep and insomnia like once per year. A doctor once gave me a few pills of Xanax for minor anxiety attacks daytime (if I had known then about this poison... ) and after about 5 pills this nightmare began and has stayed with me for 8 years now....

Please, if possible, create this as a new topic as I know it will help many many people around the world.

Many thanks,
Maria

Replied by Hattonhall
(Woodridge, Queensland, Australia)
01/20/2012

Magnesium is rapidly absorbed through the skin, maybe a MagSolution is available which could save you over the high cost of those li'l ol' pills ??

Replied by Linda
(San Francisco, Ca, Usa)
01/19/2012

Hi Maria, Have you tried a Magnesium Chloride or Epsom Salts bath before bedtime?

Or you might be able to get away with soaking your feet the way I do, as follows-

What I do when in a hurry to get to bed is put about 1/4 cup into a plastic dishpan, then stand in it as I shower, or if I'm already out of the shower I add a small amount of water (inch or so) to the pan with the Magnesium and stand in it as I brush my teeth before bed; I do not have hypnic jerk but I think it might be worth a try for you. Magnesium is the Great Relaxer..

OTOH something very like what you describe used to happen with me years ago, and it was actually a Bladder spasm. It was happening because I was "holding" urine too long and my body was desperately trying to clue me in. I hadn't even realized I was doing it... Just too much to do, and no time to stop.

I hope this helps,

Linda

Replied by Maria D
(London, Uk)
01/24/2012

Hi Linda, thanks, I have tried magnesium chloride by Natural Calm. It truly helps but in order for it to help I need to take about 4-5 times the RDA. It's way to much for my stomach to tolerate too, although I prefer good sleep. I am just wondering if there is anybody who has found a permanent cure to these jerks/jolts.


Magnesium

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Posted by Anthony (Ireland) on 10/14/2021
5 out of 5 stars

I suffered from hypnic jerks, past tense. It was my medication that was causing them, taking magnesium out of the system. I would get them when trying to fall asleep and just before you dose off, they would jerk you awake again. one night I jumped out of bed with one scary. Too much tea coffee and alcohol would also take magnesuim out of the system. I would get them real bad on a Sunday night if I was out drinking Saturday night. Now I take magnesium citrate two hours before bed 400mg with a snack, magnesium by solgar best quality. Not that expensive for a month's supply. Cut back on tea coffee and alcohol.


Potassium

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Posted by Jb (Everytown, Usa) on 09/19/2012
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Potassium for Hypnic Jerks

Potassium. Get it from coconut water, bananas, spuds (all varieties), some tomato juices, and most vegetables. Do not waste your time or money on potassium supplements, they are typically a very, very low dose, not to mention unnatural and potentially dangerous. Also your high dose of magnesium supplementation is hard on the digestive pipes and unbalances (or displaces) some other minerals. It's always best to supplement with food whenever possible (not talking about disgusting "energy" drinks). Ya gotta eat anyway, right? Discover which REAL foods are high in minerals (mostly fresh produce and carnivorous fare) and eat well. Sweet dreams.