Ever felt like you are falling, plummeting to your death while you sleep? I often wonder why we wake up in the middle of the night sweating profusely while clutching our chest from the “fall of death," and I have finally found out the reasoning behind this fearful sleep tendency.

The answer is : a jerk (no, not that kind). A hypnic jerk to be precise. Also called a sleep start. These are involuntary muscle twitches in your body as you drift off to sleep.

And fear not, you ain’t the only one cause apparently 70% of the population suffers from it. Scientists have highlighted two major reasons as to WHY it happens. 

Reason 1: Internal Battle

pillow, blanket, bed, girl, asleep, sleeping, napping, nap, sleep, cake, chocolate
Jocelyn Hsu

Neuroscience says that its a tussle between the part that keeps you awake (Reticular Activating System) and your “sleep-switch” or Ventrolateral Preoptic Nucleus (VPNS). During the hand-off between the two, the sleep/waking war happens.

Reason 2: Our Ancestors

pizza, tea, beer
Sunny Liu

According to the evolution theory, our primate ancestors used to sleep on the trees and this “jerk” would help them wake up before they fell on the ground, like a warning signal. According to the theory, this particular movement passed on to us as we evolved.

This jerk is usually caused by high caffeine consumption, working out before sleeping, high stress levels and lack of sleep. Hence, to avoid the “jerks” just avoid these things.

But as the video says, you don’t need to sacrifice on your coffee or your evening workout because these jerks aren’t really harmful and there are bigger jerks out there to worry about.

Check out this cool video which sums up all the information and presents it with cool diagrams too!