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Ever feel like you’re falling in your sleep? Here’s how to STOP it


Just as you drift off into a peaceful sleep, you are rudely awakened by sudden jolt and panic.

While it really felt like you were collapsing to your death, you accept that it was just a fabrication.

That terrifying feeling — usually accompanied by twitching in the legs and arms — is called a “hypnagogic jerk.”

But did you know there are ways to potentially prevent these random nighttime body hiccups?

Sleep starts can contribute to sleep deprivation and this in turn can cause even more sleep starts

Track sleep trends

Anyone can experience a hypnagogic shock, also known as “hypnic shock” or “sleep onset.” Bedding company Simba found that more than two-thirds of Britons surveyed have experienced the outage.

It happens during the transitional phase between wakefulness and sleep — when heart rate slows, breathing slows, and muscles relax.

Medically, it is classified as myoclonus – a brief involuntary twitching or jerking of a muscle group or muscle group.

“Hypnic jerks can affect the entire body or just the legs,” says Lisa Artis, deputy CEO of The Sleep Charity. “At the same time, you can also feel like you’re falling, experience a loud noise or a flash of light.”

While they’re “perfectly normal,” tracking when they occur can reveal what’s causing them, she said.

What are Hypnagogic Shocks?

Hypnagogic jerks, or sleep attacks, are classified as a type of myoclonus, a brief involuntary twitch or jerk of a muscle group or group of muscles.

Sleep onset tends to wake you up in the transition from first sleep to second sleep.

Your heart rate slows down, as does your breathing, and your muscles begin to relax. This is when you often experience a hypnotic shock that may or may not be accompanied by a visual hallucination.

What Causes Hypnic Jerks and Can They Be Prevented?

The exact mechanisms underlying sleep onset and myoclonus are not yet fully understood.

But excessive caffeine intake and physical and emotional stress can increase their frequency, experts say.

Some scientists believe that the brain misinterprets your body state when you begin to sleep. It “thinks” you’re still awake, but notices that your muscles aren’t moving, so it sends signals to activate them.

While they can be shocking, according to experts, hypnotic jerks are completely normal, extremely common, and rarely a sign of an underlying condition.

They are not a neurological disorder.

Source: The Sleep Charity and Simba

Ms Artis recommends that people write down the dates sleep starts in a phone or diary, along with whether they’ve had alcohol, coffee, or stimulant drugs — all of which can increase the likelihood of them happening.

Also, noting stress levels and types and times of exercise can help flush out patterns and triggers, according to the sleep charity.


People can become stressed by falling asleep.

This can contribute to sleep deprivation and in turn make more happen.

“It’s really important to make sure you’re getting good quality sleep, as tiredness or sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of hypnotic shock,” Ms Artis said.

So, if your mind is racing as it hits the pillow, try to breathe and release your negative thoughts from the day and invite peaceful and pleasant images, she advises.

This can help calm the mind and relax the body, aiding in falling asleep.

Plus, relaxing the body can ease that transition to sleep, making your muscles less likely to shake.

Don’t exercise right before bedtime

Exercising too close to hitting the sack may increase the risk of sleep attacks, it’s thought.

Tapering off and aiming to finish your workout at least two to three hours before bed will help you fall asleep, according to Ms. Artis.

But how hard you train can also play a role in sleep.

You may think that working hard in the gym will only make you tired.

However, if your evening routine includes things like running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), body pump, or body combat, it will be hard for your body and muscles to slow down and relax because they will be under more stress.

Moving your exercise routine to the morning can help with this, but so can lower-impact sessions in the evening.

Swimming, walking, Pilates or yoga — which focus on breathing and stretching — can help you relax and prevent you from falling asleep, the charity says.

Taping down and aiming to finish your workouts at least two to three hours before bed will help you fall asleep, according to The Sleep Charity

Taping down and aiming to finish your workouts at least two to three hours before bed will help you fall asleep, according to The Sleep Charity

Block sunlight

Good quality sleep is vital for your body to function normally and to avoid experiencing these nighttime shocks, experts agree.

Making sure the bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet before you go to bed can help you get a good night’s sleep, according to the sleep organization.

Heat, light, and noise can affect our ability to fall asleep and increase the likelihood of us waking up and falling asleep during the night.

This may mean changing your duvet between seasons to prevent overheating and investing in blackout curtains or blinds during the summer months when things get lighter earlier, the sleep organization says.

Switch to decaf

Stimulants can disrupt your sleep and increase the frequency of falling asleep.

Switching to decaf eight hours before bed can help you avoid hypnagogic shocks, according to the sleep charity.

Drinking low- or non-alcoholic drinks during this window may also help you wake up and go to sleep at night, experts say.

Tips to fall asleep and sleep better

Due to insomnia, you regularly have trouble sleeping.  It can get better by changing your sleeping habits

Due to insomnia, you regularly have trouble sleeping. It can get better by changing your sleeping habits

One in three adults in the UK and nearly half of US adults suffer from insomnia, with millions more reporting sleepless nights.

Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Insomnia can be caused by stress, anxiety, alcohol, caffeine or nicotine, noise, shift work and jet lag.

If you regularly have trouble sleeping, there are simple ways to improve your sleep hygiene.

Keep regular sleeping hours

  • Try to go to bed when you feel tired and get up at the same time every day.

Create a restful space

  • Dark, quiet and cool environments generally make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Get moving

  • Exercise is good for your physical health and your mind. It can also help you sleep better. Just don’t do vigorous exercise too close to your bedtime.

Don’t force it

  • If you find you can’t get to sleep, get up and do something relaxing. Then go back to bed when you feel more sleepy.

Write down your concerns

  • If you find that your worries are keeping you awake at night, try writing them down before you go to bed.

Lighten up the caffeine

  • Alcohol and caffeine can prevent you from falling asleep and sleeping deeply. Cutting back on caffeine just before bed and alcoholic drinks can help you taper off.

Source GGZ

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