A man wondering, "What are hypnic jerks?"

What Are Hypnic Jerks?

Hypnic jerks can be a distressing problem. People often wonder what might be the source and whether they can get rid of this uncomfortable symptom. For many, this condition results from underlying substance use problems. If that’s the case for you, the addiction treatment programs at Promises may help. Call 844.875.5609 to learn more about our program today.

What Are Hypnic Jerks?

You may have heard the term before but don’t know much about them. What are hypnic jerks like? Sometimes called a sleep twitch or night start, a hypnic jerk refers to a sudden contraction of muscles during sleep, often jolting people awake. 

For many people, the physical sensation of a hypnic jerk is similar to a jumping and falling sensation, and it can cause a strange sense of vertigo.

Hypnic jerks are exceptionally common. Some evidence suggests that nearly 70% of people experience a hypnic jerk in their lifetime, and many people experience hypnic jerks almost every day.

While this condition isn’t typically a cause of extreme medical concern, when you experience them regularly, it can start to severely disrupt your sleep. Sleep is a vital component of not only your physical health but your mental health as well. 

When hypnic jerks are regularly impacting your ability to get a good night’s rest, it’s likely time to seek some form of treatment to help alleviate your symptoms.

What Causes Hypnic Jerks?

There are dozens of potential factors that could lead to this condition. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Stress
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Stimulant use

Often, hypnic jerks can happen in tandem with a dream. You may wake up suddenly to a hypnic jerk after stepping off a ledge in a dream, for example. However, in general, researchers don’t believe dreams to be the cause of this condition.

Can Hypnic Jerks Be a Result of Substance Use?

For people experiencing frequent hypnic jerks, substance use is often considered as a potential cause. Researchers have repeatedly linked both caffeine and nicotine consumption to hypnic jerks, but the use of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, may lead to hypnic jerks as well.

Physiologically, hypnic jerks can be the result of an overactive nervous system when your mind and body are supposed to be relaxed. So even if you’ve fallen asleep, if your central nervous system is excited, it can jerk you awake suddenly.

Drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, Ritalin, Vyvanse, and Adderall are all central nervous system stimulants. Even hours after the subjective effects of these drugs wear off, the stimulating effects on your nervous system remain.

Further, misuse of these drugs can lead to many of the other potential causes of hypnic jerks, such as stress, insomnia, anxiety, and fatigue.

Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

If you think that substance use is the cause of your hypnic jerks, the best way to get help is to start an addiction treatment program. There are several evidence-based methods to help people break free from addiction, including:

  • Medical detox
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Medication-assisted treatment

Further, seeking treatment at an addiction treatment center can help you overcome the other problems in your life that may be contributing to this condition. Addiction can cause a cascade of negative physical and mental health symptoms, but you can recover.

Start Addiction Treatment at Promises Today

When you’re ready to begin treatment, reach out to the team at Promises by calling 844.875.5609. Our team can help you determine what level of care is right for your needs and will be there to support you along every step of your recovery journey. Overcoming addiction isn’t easy, but it is possible.

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