Spasms Before Sleep: Why Do They Happen?

Surely it has happened to you at some time: You are in bed ready to sleep and suddenly, when you are about to enter the sleep phase, you notice how your body moves involuntarily causing you a sensation of falling into the void. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who has suffered or suffers from this kind of spasms before going to sleep. They are known as nocturnal or myoclonic spasms and have a scientific reason that we will explain below. Very attentive!

Why do we have spasms before sleeping?

  • Sleep jerks are actually called myoclonic jerks, hyping jerks, or sleep myoclonus. They are very fast and sudden movements that happen involuntarily during hypnagogic. Hypnagogic is that phase in which our body is entering sleep, but is not yet asleep, that is, that blurred area between sleep and wakefulness.
  • Despite the fact that it is something very common that happens to many people, an agreement has not yet been reached in the scientific world on what are the exact causes that cause this type of spasms when sleeping. However, there are a number of fairly accepted theories about its true origin:
  • +Involuntary spasms almost always occur in the early stages of sleep, that is, when we are already asleep and ready to travel to the “world of dreams”. In this phase our vital signs drop (our heart rate and our respiratory rate begin to drop) and it is at this point that our brain tries to differentiate between physical death and sleep, sending a nerve impulse to one of our extremities to verify that has answer. Immediately after this, that characteristic jolt occurs that can move only one leg or one arm or make us jump out of bed moving our whole body.
  • Other times, this movement may be a simple reaction to a dream in which we dream that we are falling. The brain interprets that fall and sends signals to all our muscles to react to it.
  • The last of the theories, closely related to the previous ones, defends that the spasms before sleeping are a memory of our ape past. In the old days, when the apes slept in the treetops, their bodies were prepared to react with a spasm at the slightest possibility of falling. This caused them to wake up, reposition themselves and thus avoid falling from the tree.

Is it normal for us to spasm before sleeping?

  • Yes, it’s normal and you don’t have to be alarmed if it ever happens to you. Usually, everyone experiences one of these spasms at some point in their life. In fact, it is much more common than people think. Specifically, some studies have determined that the percentage of people who suffer from it is around 70%. Also, these nocturnal jerks are much more common in young children than in adults.
  • At first, this figure may seem alarming, but it doesn’t have to be since these spasms are not harmful or harmful to health. The only negative is that they can become annoying and make it difficult to rest if someone suffers from them frequently and wakes up every time they suffer from one of them.

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