Sudden jolts just as I'm falling asleep - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Sudden jolts just as I'm falling asleep

Irishmoe profile image

Please can someone give me some advice on why when I'm just about to fall asleep I jolt up awake , it is terrifying me, it doesn't happen all the time but other times it can happen several times a night sometimes not as strong as others but tonight it was the biggest one I've had, it has been a while since it has happened and to be honest almost had put it to the back of my mind, any helpful advice would be very much appreciated, Thanks irishmoe

41 Replies

Very scary. could it be a breathing problem. My wife tells me I stop breathing and then suddenly jolt and start breathing normally again. I am not always aware of this but it does affect my quality of restful sleep.

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to dezi

Hello dezi, if I'm honest I have no idea what's going on I work a very Labour intensive job and it never effects me there it only happens when I'm about to to drift off to sleep sort of half awake half asleep, I don't even no if it's my heart or my brain or both.

dezi profile image
dezi in reply to dezi

Sorry she tells me it’s not always a jolt but sometimes like a grunt and start breathing properly again. I guess the grunts mean I’m still half asleep but when I sort of jump or twitch it actually wakes me up

Mountwood profile image
Mountwood in reply to dezi

I agree with Ascb about seeing your GP, and don't delay. Sleep apnoea can be serious.

Ascb profile image
Ascb in reply to dezi

Ask your GP to refer you to a sleep clinic, sounds like OSA (sleep apnoea)

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to Ascb

Thank you Ascb

If it happens as you’re trying to go to sleep, it sounds like it could just be hypnic jerking, which is a form of rapid, involuntary muscle movement. The technical term for these kinds of involuntary movements is myoclonus, with hiccups being another example. In this instance, we don’t really understand why it happens, but it’s a natural phenomenon that occurs in the area of our brain responsible for the startle reflex - nothing sinister or to worry about, and very common, with estimates of around 70% of people experiencing them, although many people may not be aware they experience them, or may not know how frequently they experience them. It happens to me on a very regular basis, and the degree of jolt varies; sometimes it’s only a small one that I might not even notice myself, only know about if someone else is in the room and tells me, sometimes it’s so big, it feels as if someone just sat down on my bed and bounced me around the mattress. Which is somewhat terrifying when it’s normally just me and my young teen in the house. Sometimes it’ll happen multiple times as I’m trying to get to sleep, or if I wake during the night and try to go back to sleep, other times just once. I might go days or weeks without noticing them, then have several nights on the trot where it fully startles me awake.

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to Charlie_G

Hello Charlie_G thank you for that information my friend it at least takes some of the worry away and that's huge part of it.

Dezi, thank you for your input just chatting has calmed me down abit I'm going to have another go at sleeping but will keep in touch, sleep well my friend.

dezi profile image
dezi in reply to Irishmoe

Well not sure I slept well but hope you did.

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to dezi

Morning dezi, I had no further problems last night my friend so I'm just gonna keep monatering it and hope it is just sleep apnea. Sorry you didn't sleep well pal, for me I'm gonna look into some alternative medicine as I've no doctor and haven't had one in a long time, I'm not one for taking pills.

Hypnic jerks are normal, happens to everyone.

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to bantam12

Thanks pal

Most likely sleep apnea x

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to 81235

I hop ping that's all it is, thank you 81235

Was for me got tested was severe sleep apnea have a machine now found not tired in day due to no interruptions in sleep x

Happens to me all the time, not very nice I agree. No idea if it’s connected but I’ve just been diagnosed with sleep apnea, I also do the stop breathing in my sleep grunting thing as above lol, according to doc I stop breathing 37 times an hour which I’m totally oblivious to, waiting for treatment now, may be worth getting checked out, the test is painless and easy. Good luck

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to LiveToRide

That's for your reply livetoride much appreciated

Sounds very much like Hypnic Jerks, I also get them a lot, happen more often when I am tired/over tired and also having a bout of anxiety, I think its a reaction to your body being tired but your brain is very active.

I wouldn't be worried, they are very normal and happen to lots of people. If they persist and you are worried of course see your doctor but please don't unduly worry about them, it will make them worse if anything. Try and improve sleep hygiene and if there are other things in life that are bothering you try and get them resolved if you can or at least write them down and think them in the daytime/conscious time. Our unconscious mind will often try and resolve matters that are not thought about consciously and this usually manifests in the physical side, e.g. poor sleep, anxiety, palpitations, etc.

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to Thecyclist

Morning Thecyclist, you have got the nail on the head my friend with your first paragraph, I can't thank you enough.

Jack2019 profile image
Jack2019 in reply to Irishmoe

I was reading about this not to long ago. I understand they are evolutionary reflexes to keep us clinging to our ancestral mother's chest. Infants have these jolts frequently when falling off to sleep, they are always there but much less frequent as we move away from infancy.

I have these quite often... I agree - they're very freaky!! After some research, I'd agree with the others above - quite normal. I liken it to feeling like I'm falling out of a tree, which I hate!!! I've never looked into it medically, but am not worried after finding a lot of people have them.

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to Oboebec

Thank you for taking the time to respond everyone has been so helpful and I'm truly greatful.

Only thing I can think of I get involuntary breath which is like a hiccup without the up.

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to Wallydug

Thank you for that information Wallydug

Wallydug profile image
Wallydug in reply to Irishmoe

Your welcome.

Sounds like myoclonic jerks which are quite common and quite harmless. A lot of people have them all their lives. The well known biochemist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov wrote an amusing short story about them. Wikipedia gives a good load of information about them.

Why you should suddenly start experiencing them is another matter which may be worth investigating

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to Mentdent

Thank you Mentdent will check that out could do with a giggle.

Yes, I get them and find find them more of a nuisance than a worry. It feels like I've fallen really fast and landed with a jerk, I would say it only happens a few times a year and have had them all my life. I wouldn't like it to keep happening though. Do you have any stress in your life at the moment?


I do and I think it's definitely part of it, thanks for your input

I understood it was something to do with the fight or flight instinct. It’s either a nerve thing or a muscle thing, nothing to do with the heart so no need to worry. It’s just annoying.

Think you maybe on to something there, thanks

ÌDo you have post nasal drip. If so try a nasal spray.

Sleep apnea happened to me after my heart attack in April and lasted a few weeks, then went away...

Hi, I have just had ohs and I have many jolts when going to sleep. It’s nothing to worry about, some doctors say it happens if you are worrying instead of relaxing. So stop worrying.

Irishmoe profile image
Irishmoe in reply to Carluke

Thanks but easier said than done pal

Coz your nuts...

As your not even asleep yet, just trying to fall asleep, it's probably not sleep apnea. I find a quick walk around to settle, then try again, works for me. Take care.

I have had a similar thing. Mine is when my heart rate becomes really low and your breathing really slowly. It does make you jump. Keep an eye on your Blood pressure and heart rate BPM

Sounds like something that happens to me occasionally, just as I'm falling asleep. It's a nuisance but I don't worry about it. Sleep apnea can be serious so I should hope that's not the problem!

Just wondered whether it happens if you first go to sleep lying on your back. No one has mentioned that yet. My husband does this from time to time, and I gently push him on to his side, and this seems to help

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