If your body suddenly contracts while you’re falling asleep, this is what it means.

No matter how many times it happens, it never seems to suddenly get better or stop. You see, you start to drift off into dreamland, but just when you’re ready to slip out of your head into a deep sleep, you start to fall askew. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this strange phenomenon, but I’ve always wondered why it happens. Apparently, it happens regularly to people. And scientists have finally figured out what it means. They even named the phenomenon “hypnotic tremor”. Descriptions of the hypnotic jolt vary from person to person, but what’s common is that it makes you feel like you’ve fallen. Researchers believe that certain external factors, such as caffeine and smoking, can increase the frequency of sleep jerks. It is recommended that these be avoided.

Medications such as Adderall and Ritalin have been found to have similar effects, and sleep deprivation can also cause this phenomenon. Hypnotic jerks are most often seen when falling asleep quickly during or after a state of intense fatigue. In rare cases, when the body is really exhausted, the brain processes the sleep stages too quickly and becomes confused, thinking that the body and its major systems are malfunctioning. In response, it wakes you up with bursts of chemicals, which the brain may interpret as sleep to wake you up.

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