I think we can all relate to this feeling.
You’re just slowly starting to slip off into dreamland, the world and all of the worries of your day are disappearing one by one, and then suddenly you’re falling fast or hit hard by some mysterious object and yanked right out of dreamland in the worst way.
You’ve been jerked awake in a startling and probably frightening manner and you’re left wondering what happened.
You may have wondered if this is an entirely unique phenomenon, but it turns out it isn’t.
It is in fact, very common and has even been studied by scientists who were just as curious as we are about why it happens.
Well, after research and inquiry, these scientists have even given it an official name. They call it the “hypnic jerk”.
The hypnic jerk can be perceived a little differently by everyone, each person has an individual interpretation of what it feels like to them.
The most commonly shared concept though, is that you feel like you are falling. Also commonly described is the feeling of being asphyxiated, oddly enough.
Researchers have claimed that certain external influences such as tobacco or caffeine, may have an effect on how often you are subjected to the hypnic jerk.
Of course they recommend that you abstain from caffeinated drinks within a few hours of going to sleep to try and assuage the problem.
Some medications like Adderall and Ritalin have been shown to increase the likelihood of this happening as well, along with sleep deprivation.
We see the hypnic jerk most commonly when a person falls asleep very quickly during or after experiencing an episode of physical and mental exhaustion, essentially stretching themselves just too thin, energy-wise.
It seems that when this occurs, the brain races through the stages of sleep too rapidly and briefly confuses itself into believing that the body’s systems are shutting down.
The brains’ instinctual response is to jerk you awake with a chemical cocktail that may be interpreted in a dream as something like a far fall or body slam.
This is the basic concept behind the famous “hypnic jerk” that we’re all familiar with.
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