Feeling of Falling While Sleeping | Wockhardt Hospitals

Feeling of Falling While Sleeping or Having a Sudden Jerk Right Before Sleep?

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Feeling of Falling While Sleeping

You’ve hit the bed and are waiting for a sound, restful sleep to consume you. But as soon as you find yourself drifting off to sleep, have you ever felt like you are falling or experienced a sudden startling shock? If yes, chances are that you have experienced ‘sleep starts’, also known as ‘hypnic jerks’ or ‘myoclonic jerks’. But, what does it mean? Simply put, these jerks are sudden, involuntary muscle contractions that can occur when a person is falling asleep.

“Sleep starts, also known as hypnic or hypnagogic jerks, are an abrupt, quick, and forceful contraction of the entire body, or of single or several body segments. These generally happen when a person is starting to nod off,” Dr. Vipul Gupta said. “A large portion of the body is typically affected by one abrupt jerk as the person starts falling asleep. It is most likely to impact the arms and legs. A sensory flash, feeling of falling, and a visual dream can also mark a sleep start.”

Agreeing, Dr. Krishnan P R,  said that sleep starts are thought to be caused by sudden relaxation of the muscles as you transition from wakefulness to sleep. As a person falls asleep, their body temperature drops, and their muscles relax, which can trigger a reflex response in the nervous system that causes sudden muscle contractions.

Usually, a sleep start does not make you wake up from your sleep. “This implies that you would probably not remember a jerk that your bed companion noticed,” Dr. Pavan Pai, Consultant Interventional Neurologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road said.

While the exact cause of sleep starts is not known, experts believe that many people can experience these jerks as a result of stress, anxiety, or other psychological factors. “While there is no main specific cause behind hypnagogic jerks, some factors like excessive caffeine intake, and physical, and emotional stress can gradually increase the frequency. Extreme tiredness and sleep deprivation can also be a major factor behind these hypnic jerks,” Dr. Gupta said.

Sharing their incidence, Dr. Pai highlighted that about 60 percent to 70 percent of people have them. “Most individuals only experience them sometimes. Men and women of various ages are affected by sleep disorders. Adults are more prone to complain about jerks, which are persistent or violent.”

Agreeing, Dr. Gupta said that it is important to note that it is not necessary that people experiencing these will experience them every time they fall asleep.

Are they risky? Doctors share that sleep starts are generally not considered to be harmful or risky. “However, in rare cases, they can be a symptom of a sleep disorder such as restless legs syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder. If sleep starts are accompanied by other symptoms such as insomnia or daytime fatigue, it is recommended to consult a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions,” Dr. Krishnan said.

Additionally, they aren’t dangerous until and unless people aren’t hurting themselves or start experiencing symptoms like incontinence, injury, pain, or confusion, Dr. Gupta added.

If you are bothered by these sleep starts or have been experiencing them frequently, here are some tips to follow:

  • Respect a sleeping pattern. Limit your sleep time to eight hours.
  • Be mindful of your diet and hydration. Don’t overeat or go to bed hungry.
  • Establish a tranquil setting. Keep your space cold, quiet, and dark.
  • Limit daytime naps.
  • Include some exercise in your everyday regimen.
  • Control your fears.
  • Avoid caffeine and stimulating activities before bed.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.

Dr. Pavan Pai
Consultant Interventional Neurologist
Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road

To book an appointment call: +918108101104

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/sleep-starts-hypnic-myoclonic-jerks-causes-prevention-sleep-101-8454666/

FAQs on Feeling of Falling While Sleeping

Q. Is a hypnic jerk serious?

Despite being startling, hypnic jerks are usually not taken seriously. They typically do not pose health hazards and are regular events during the shift from awake to sleep. However, it might be wise to speak with a medical expert for a more thorough assessment if they severely interfere with sleep or are accompanied by other severe symptoms.

Q. What causes the falling feeling when sleeping?

A common explanation for the feeling of falling asleep is hypnic jerks or sleep starts. These uncontrollably jerky muscle movements happen when you’re about to go asleep or wake up, and it’s thought that the brain interprets muscular relaxation as a fall. They are often not a reason for concern and are thought to be a typical aspect of the sleep process.

Q. Why do you feel like you’re falling in your sleep?

The sensation of falling asleep is often due to hypnic jerks, also known as sleep starts. It is believed that the brain misinterprets muscular relaxation as falling, resulting in uncontrollable muscle spasms that occur when you go from awake to sleep. Usually benign, they are a component of the regular sleep cycle.

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