Woman wondering, "How are hypnic jerks and alcohol linked?"

How Are Hypnic Jerks And Alcohol Linked?

If you’re experiencing hypnic jerks, alcohol withdrawal may be the cause. Alcohol withdrawal has a number of harmful consequences and can often be fatal without treatment at an alcohol rehab center. Call Promises at 844.875.5609 to get started with evidence-based alcohol treatment today.

Understanding Hypnic Jerks

Hypnic jerks are a common, uncomfortable sleep symptom that can interfere with your ability to get a good night’s rest. A hypnic jerk, sometimes called a sleep start, is when you suddenly jerk awake in the middle of sleep. Hypnic jerks can feel like you are falling and cause a burst of muscle tension that wakes you up suddenly.

While the exact cause of hypnic jerks is unknown, most scientists believe them to be the result of an overactive central nervous system during sleep. Your body is sending signals for alertness and vigilance despite being at rest, causing you to suddenly awaken in the middle of the night.

How Are Hypnic Jerks and Alcohol Linked?

Knowing what a hypnic jerk is, you may still be wondering, “How are hypnic jerks and alcohol linked?” The answer lies in the central nervous system—where alcohol has a number of direct and indirect effects.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. This means that it slows down the body’s automatic, life-preserving functions, such as breathing and heart rate. The exact drug action is through a neurotransmitter called GABA, which is the main neurotransmitter responsible for soothing the central nervous system and sending signals of calm and relaxation.

Alcohol enhances the effect of your body’s natural GABA supplies. This is how it produces many of the well-known effects of alcohol, such as:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Relaxation
  • Sleepiness
  • Reduced anxiety

Yet when people drink alcohol frequently, the body begins to compensate for the relaxing effects of alcohol. Baseline central nervous system activity begins to accelerate, leading to both the phenomenon of tolerance as well as withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use suddenly stops.

This elevated central nervous system activity is the link between alcohol and hypnic jerks. When a person goes to sleep after drinking, the body begins to break down alcohol and lower blood alcohol content, causing a spike in central nervous system activity. This will often lead to being awoken by a hypnic jerk.

Hypnic Jerks: Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal can lead to hypnic jerks as well, through the same pathway listed above. When people have grown tolerant to the effects of alcohol, their central nervous system becomes dangerously overactive when alcohol use suddenly stops, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Hypnic jerks
  • Shakes
  • Sweating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Insomnia

In severe alcohol withdrawal, called delirium tremens, even more severe and life-threatening events may take place. Severe alcohol withdrawal can include symptoms such as:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Severe alcohol withdrawal is deadly and should never be attempted alone. Starting treatment at a medical detox center can provide targeted medications with calm central nervous system activity, preventing the potentially fatal consequences of withdrawal.

But even if your alcohol withdrawal isn’t severe enough to be life-threatening, medical detox can alleviate many other symptoms, including hypnic jerks. Alcohol withdrawal is never easy, but quality, evidence-based treatment methods can make the path to recovery much more comfortable.

Get Started with Alcohol Treatment at Promises

When alcohol use starts to lead to symptoms such as hypnic jerks, it’s likely you’ve developed an alcohol use disorder. You can break free from an alcohol addiction, but most people will need the help of a dedicated alcohol rehab center in order to do so.

Call Promises today at 844.875.5609 to learn more about our comprehensive alcohol treatment options and start your path to recovery.

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