Why Do People Jump In Their Sleep?

why do people jump in their sleepHave you ever had a sudden jolt in your sleep or witnessed it? It can be quite a movement during sleep and it just begs the question- why do people jump in their sleep? Some might say it’s all a part of a dream and others, involuntary muscle movements. I decided to find out the truth once and for all.

What Does it Mean When You Twitch in Your Sleep?

When we fall asleep it is normal to experience twitching every now and again. According to Live Science, this twitching is known as a hypnogogic jerk- otherwise known as involuntary muscle spasms. These typically occur while our minds and bodies are drifting off to sleep.

This involuntary phenomenon is named in a reference to the stage of sleep called Hypnogogic State. During this sleeping stage, we are going through a transitional period between wakefulness and sleep. Other common names for this twitching could be hypnic jerks or even sleep starts. Anyone of any age can get them when they are sleeping.

How Does it Happen?

Jumping while sleeping, or even small twitches, occur spontaneously or they can be induced. These movements can be induced by light, sounds, or other external stimuli. Many people will report having jumped in their sleep due to dreams, getting the feeling of falling, hallucinations, bright lights being turned on, or even loud noises coming from inside your head. I know I’ve jumped myself awake due to a dream I had of falling. In your dream it feels so real it causes your body to react.

It could also happen if you start to sleep a little too close to the edge of your bed. Your body will jerk you awake due to the change in balance and the feeling of falling. If you’re lucky, you will wake up before you roll out of bed and hit the floor.

Sleep starts can be frequent and intense due to your diet or your mental state. According to Sleep Education, the jumping in your sleep can occur more often and more intense due to:

  • Higher intake of caffeine or other stimulants
  • Emotional stressors
  • Sleeping after intense exercise or physical labor

Are There Other Types?

Now, as I mentioned above, most of the time when you jump or twitch in your sleep it is caused by hypnagogic spasms. However, a few other types of movement in your sleep can occur that you should be aware of. According to Sleep – Love to Know, there are a few causes of twitching or jumping out of your sleep that you should identify:

  • Convulsions: these are unintentional spasms that usually occur with seizures
  • Myoclonus: unintentional movements caused by a muscle or several muscles when unexpected tensing or relaxing occurs
  • Tics: movements that repeat themselves and are characterized as intermittent and spontaneous. Tics are often designated to definite areas such as the hands, face, neck, torso, or shoulders
  • Tremors: these are milder than spasms, convulsions, or tics. These are also unintentional movements that occur regularly and can have several different causes.

While it is normal to have an occasional start in your sleep or even twitch slightly, if you or a family member is having noticeable movements each and every night it is best to speak with your doctor to ensure that everything is alright. Not to mention, constant and intense movements while you are trying to sleep will often wake you up which could lead to chronic insomnia.

Jumping in your sleep can also cause injury to yourself or even your bed partner. The large, sudden involuntary movements can cause the sleeper to fall out of bed or even kick or flail their arms uncontrollably, unintentionally harming their bed partner.

What Can I Do?

If you are suffering from jumping in your sleep nearly every night, speak to your doctor. You can also keep a sleep journal to record the days and times you are waking up in the night due to jumping or twitching in your sleep. It is important to know that these movements can be caused by a few other things, which is why it is important to speak to a doctor should you feel they are happening quite often.

Jumping in your sleep can also be caused by:

  • Another sleep disorder
  • Medication usage
  • A medical condition
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse

The Final Verdict

Why do people jump in their sleep? Most of the time it is few and far between and caused by the hypnogogic spasms. However, if you find that you or a loved one are jumping out of your sleep nearly every night, it can be caused by something more serious and lead to even bigger problems. Always speak to a professional if you have any concern about your sleeping habits.