It’s a peculiar occurrence that, no matter how many times it happens, never seems to improve or become less startling.
Picture this: you’re gradually drifting off into the world of dreams, on the verge of slipping into a deep slumber. Just as you’re about to dive headfirst into that serene sleep, you suddenly experience a sensation of falling, or it feels like something has struck you in the face, abruptly yanking you back to reality from the realm of dreams.
If you’ve ever been curious about this curious phenomenon, you’re not alone. I’ve often pondered why this happens, and it turns out that it’s a fairly common experience. Scientists have finally unraveled the mystery and even bestowed it with an official name: the “hypnic jerk.”
The hypnic jerk can be described in various ways, but it’s commonly likened to the feeling of falling. Interestingly, some have even likened it to the sensation of a malevolent presence choking them in their slumber.
Researchers believe that several external factors, such as caffeine and tobacco, may contribute to the frequency of hypnic jerks. To minimize the occurrence of these jerks, it’s advisable to steer clear of caffeinated drinks if bedtime is only a few hours away.
Additionally, certain medications like Adderall and Ritalin have been known to have similar effects, and sleep deprivation can also trigger these phenomena.
Hypnic jerks are most frequently observed when a person is drifting into sleep rapidly, during, or after they’ve been in a state of exhaustion. In rare instances, when the body is exceptionally fatigued, the brain might accelerate through the stages of sleep, confusing itself into believing that the body and its vital systems are malfunctioning.
In response, it startles you awake by releasing a burst of chemicals. The brain might interpret this as a need to create a dream designed to rouse you, forming the foundation of the “hypnic jerk” theory.