These are called hypnic jerks, also known as sleep starts. They're when you feel a sudden, involuntary contraction of your muscles while you're falling asleep. It's called hypnic because hypnic is a word used to describe the period of time between waking and sleeping. These jerks usually happen randomly as you're falling asleep and usually only affect one part of your body, like your left arm or left leg.
What causes Hypnic Jerks?
Scientists don't know exactly what causes a hypnic jerk, but they have a few ideas. It's thought that it starts in the same area of the brain where your startle reflex is triggered. When you're falling asleep, there's a mix-up of nerves in your brainstem that causes a reaction that results in a hypnic jerk. For instance, when your muscles are totally relaxed, which is normal when you're falling, your brain thinks you're actually falling and your muscles are twitching. It could also be that hypnic jacks are a physical response to dream-like images that come with them. There are some things that can make you more likely to have a hypnic jerk, like drinking too much caffeine and stimulants, doing too much exercise before bed, being stressed out, or not getting enough sleep.
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