Have you ever been jolted awake by a twitch? You may experience this phenomenon when you first fall asleep – an involuntary muscle spasm. Indeed, have you ever wondered why we experience these random movements, and if we can do something to stop them? In this article, we’ll explore the causes of sleep-related muscle twitches, their frequency, and possible treatments for those who find it disrupts their sleep. Keep reading to learn more about sleep-related contractions and the science behind them!
Falling asleep: Here are the plausible causes!
As your body relaxes as you fall asleep, certain types of sleep-related muscle contractions can occur. These spasms or jerks are medically known as hypnic jerks or myoclonus. Hypnic jerks usually happen when the person begins to fall asleep, but they can also happen during the night. For some people, hypnic jerks can cause a rude awakening, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
The exact cause of hypnic jerks is still unknown, but research suggests it may be related to the natural transition between wakefulness and sleep. As your body transitions between these states, there may be mild neurological disturbances in the brain that lead to muscle twitches or spasms. Stress and anxiety can also trigger hypnic jerks during sleep. If your mind is overworked by intrusive thoughts and worries, sudden movements or spasms may occur during the transition from wakefulness to sleep.
Other factors increase the risk of muscle twitching during sleep.
Caffeine consumption near bedtime stimulates the nervous system and can contribute to nocturnal spasms. Drinking alcohol before bed is also associated with an increased likelihood of hypnic jerks. Similarly, people who consume less calcium and vitamin D during the day have been linked to higher rates of these nighttime jerks.
Finally, certain physical problems can increase the likelihood of experiencing nocturnal muscle twitching during sleep. Poor posture during sleep has been associated with a higher rate of myoclonus. Additionally, insufficient lighting during waking hours has led to an increased frequency of nocturnal contractions in some people.
Falling asleep: what can be done to avoid them?
First, it’s important to look at lifestyle factors that could exacerbate the problem.
Adopt a balanced diet.
Incorporating a balanced diet into an individual’s lifestyle can help reduce the frequency of startle seizures during sleep. Studies have shown that eating iron-rich foods improves sleep quality. While not overeating can help prevent nighttime restlessness.
Vitamins and minerals have been shown to improve overall sleep quality and reduce the occurrence of nighttime interruptions such as startles. Eating regular meals throughout the day and avoiding snacking before bed also helps maintain a healthy routine. Which is essential to reduce interruptions during sleep.
Avoid stimulants before bedtime.
Caffeine, for example, acts as a stimulant and has been shown to delay a person’s ability to fall asleep and decrease the quality of their sleep. Similarly, many medications can also interfere with the insomnia process by preventing deep, restful sleep. By eliminating these substances from the body before bedtime, it is possible to let the body naturally unwind and relax into a more restful state at night. This allows the nervous system to calm down and better regulate itself during sleep. This creates an environment in which startle seizures are less likely to occur or are much less intense than they otherwise would be.
Use stress management techniques.
High levels of stress can prevent the brain from relaxing into deep sleep where hypnic jerks can occur more frequently or more intensely. Some stress management techniques include:
- The practice of mindfulness.
- Keeping a diary.
- Seeking other hobbies or activities, such as gardening or painting, that one finds calming and therapeutic.
Arm yourself with relaxing supplements.
Certain supplements or plants have been used traditionally to promote better quality sleep, such as:
- Chamomile before bed, known to help relax muscles and reduce anxiety.
- Melatonin, which helps control the body’s internal clock.
- Ashwagandha, which helps support natural cortisol levels.
- L-theanine, which helps increase alpha wave activity in the brain, which promotes relaxation.
- Magnesium that fights insomnia by helping to relax muscles and tissues.
- Valerian root for its calming effects on body and mind.
- Lavender oil for its sedative properties.
- Kava root extract for its anti-anxiety effects.
- Passionflower extract for its ability to reduce feelings of tension while promoting relaxation.
- Lemon balm extract that helps calm the body and mind.
- GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), an amino acid derivative that promotes relaxation without causing drowsiness.
All of these lifestyle changes, along with herbal remedies, can help reduce the frequency and intensity of hypnic jerks to allow for more restful sleep each night.