Jerking When Falling Asleep: 7 Simple Ways To Avoid Sleep Twitching

Twitching while falling asleep is an involuntary sudden movement that occur while someone is sleeping and it affects the muscles. I also known as sleep myoclonus. It primarily affects the fingers, toes, lips and eyes. It is related to sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome and periodic leg movement during sleep.

On the other hand, sleep jerking is a sudden uncontrolled movement or brief and strong contractions of the body. It may occur on one or more body segments. They usually occur as you are falling asleep. The arms and legs are most likely to be affected and at times a sharp cry also occurs.

What You Should Know About Sleep Jerks Or Twitches

jerking when falling asleep

Sleep jerks are also known as sleep starts and they do not always wake you up. This means you may not recall a jerk. Jerking in your sleep sometimes happens along with:

  • The feeling that you are falling.
  • A sensory flash.
  • Hallucination or a visual dream.
reason of jerking while sleep

The intensity and frequency of sleep starts can increase due to:

  • A high intake of caffeine or stimulants.
  • Prior intense exercise or physical work.
  • Emotional stress.
sleep disorder

It is also important to know whether there are other problems causing your sleep starts such as :

  • Another sleep disorder.
  • A medical condition.
  • Use of certain medication.
  • A mental health issue.
  • Substance abuse.

In many cases sleep starts do not require treatment but one should see a specialist if the jerks are keeping you from getting enough sleep or if you fear them.

Identifying the source of these movements is necessary for the condition to be treated properly. So, really causes twitching and jerking? With all the theories that are out there about the condition, there a few that stand out in relation to sleep. Some can be treated by simply changing lifestyle and bedtime routine.

Sleep Myoclonus

Sleep Myoclonus

This happens at the onset of sleep and it occurs in the first stages of sleeping. People relate to the feeling as if they are falling as they are being carried away by sleep and they wake up with the urge to catch themselves.

The sudden jolt movement leads to waking up and it is a disturbing experience. When this recur, it can mean you are suffering from sleep disorder.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

This a disorder that involves jerking movements that can last up to 30 seconds. The twitching happens when one is asleep and it leads to disruption of sleep.

Those who suffer from this disorder experience fatigue during the day. The movements may involve bending of the knee, hip or ankle or flexing of the big toe. The movements are considered a sleep disorder if they interfere with ones’ sleep or waking life.

Restless Leg Syndrome

RLS is a sleep disorder that leads to twitching while sleeping. The movements are as a result of the sleeper having a strong urge to move due to unpleasant creeping sensations in the legs.

REM Behavior Disorder

With this disorder the sleeper has involuntary movements during the REM cycle. This is the cycle when one is unable to move and prevents one from acting out on their dreams during sleep.

With this disorder, the sleeper tends to move and in some cases the movements are vigorous and far less subtle.

Seven Simple Ways To Avoid Twitches In Sleep

​Lifestyle Changes

night shower before the bed

A change of diet and lifestyle is the first method to treat restless leg syndrome. Identify and eliminate triggers such as caffeine, alcohol and changing sleeping habits can be very effective. Hot baths, leg massages, heating pads and ice packs are also some of the features that can provide short term relief. Choose an aisle seat when you are flying or when you go to the movie to allow stretching of the legs.

Do Exercises

yoga poses to support sleep

Yoga, meditation and other relaxing exercises help to reduce the symptoms. The right time to exercise during the morning hours or early afternoon. This allows the body to set the circadian rhythm, improving the sleep and wake cycle.

Meditation and yoga are a way to unwind. It will allow you to relieve the mind from stress and depression that can lead to poor sleep and in turn twitches and jerks may occur. Try not to do heavy exercise late in the evening or night as well. This could lead to excess lactic acid that contributes to hypnic jerks.

Have A Sleep Schedule

Try to sleep and wake up at the same time all the time. This allows the body to have sleep and wake clock in the body to have a routine it can follow. You will have less problems during sleep and you will always be able to prepare to go to bed.

Having a routine allows the body to relax before you can sleep. This will reduce the chances of waking up in the middle of the night.

Create A Good Sleep Environment


Have a comfortable pillow, mattress or sleeper sofa and dress these with soft sheets. The room temperature should also be cool since the body temperature drops during sleep. This will allow the body to be in a relaxed mood for better sleep.

Must read: 6 Simple Steps To Optimize Your Bedroom For Better Sleep

Avoid Fretting

Worrying is a considerable problem since shutting the brain off to sleep involves transitioning from active to calm a state of mind.

Some people who have twitches and jerks have a problem of waking up in the middle of the night and this becomes a natural occurrence. This then leads to a vicious sleep and wake cycle, which disrupts sleep. Look for ways to treat sleep disorders such as insomnia.

Watch Your Diet

Don’t eat and go to bed immediately

The lack of magnesium and calcium lead to muscle and nerve spasms. Look for a diet that will give a sufficient amount of these minerals to the body. This can help eliminate the twitching and jerking.

You can also use and rub magnesium oils around the areas you twitch before going to bed. You can as well choose to eat less sugary foods and eat more of vegetables and fruits.

Try Not To Get Too Tired/ Fatigued

tired man

This may depend on your particular circumstances since some people have a very busy and tiring day. It is up to you to choose not to overwork yourself for better sleep. Either way, if you do not sleep well, then it affects your day.


Twitching and jerking in most cases in a result of sleep related problems and disorders. Treating this underlying problem may naturally lead to relief. It is important to talk to a physician about the disturbances. Changing lifestyle habits is also a sure way to handle twitches and jerks as well. Live a healthy life to lower the risk of sleep disorder.

Jerking When Fall Asleep
  • Jane
  • Updated August 3, 2018

I am Jane Collins, a Founder and a Main Editor of I decided to create this site to share my knowledge, guides and tips to help you to have a good night's sleep.

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