By Dr. Deanna Lites

DETROIT (WWJ) – Have you ever felt that you are falling as you’re drifting off to sleep? If so, you’re not alone. But is it something you should be worried about?

That strange falling sensation that jolts you awake is called a hypnic jerk, or sleep start.

“You feel this kind of jolt, or a start, or you feel the sensation of falling and it can be scary and then that kind of jolts you awake,” said sleep expert Dr. Reena Mehra.

Dr. Mehra says it’s usually nothing to worry about. The exact cause of the involuntary movement is unknown, but it may be triggered by things such as stress, stimulant medications or too much caffeine.

“The main suggestions would be to get that sufficient sleep, which we in adults say should be seven to eight hours of sleep,” said Dr. Mehra.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep starts are very common and don’t require treatment in most people. In most cases, they are infrequent and usually aren’t even remembered. But some people can suffer from intense jerks that occur one after another.

In extreme cases, sleep starts can lead to a fear of falling asleep, anxiety and insomnia. If the jerks are keeping you from getting enough sleep, or if you fear them, you should consider seeing a sleep specialist.


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