Most adults dream about the weekend so they can sleep in and catch up on extra time in la-la land. But although we often associate sleep with peace, falling asleep might not be as peaceful as you’d think.
If you’ve ever twitched or jerked while falling to sleep you’ve done what scientists called a hypnagogic jerk. About 50-70 percent of people have this but most don’t remember because they fall asleep right afterwards.
Scroll down for a video about what happens when you fall asleep.
As you start falling asleep, your brain needs to make adjustments. The resulting “shift change” causes the twitches and jerks we mentioned above, according to DNews.
Your brain has two systems that are located just behind your eyes. The reticular activating system (RAS) is in charge of your wakeful state. This is where you transition from being awake to sleeping.
The ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO) helps keep you asleep by keeping parts of your brain dormant – like a hibernating bear.
After you’ve fallen asleep, your body stops producing serotonin which regulates mood as well as large muscle movements. You big muscles can’t move but it doesn’t effect the small ones in your fingers and eyes, for example. This is why you get may have hypnagogic jerks.
Scientists are still trying to figure out why your body does this. Right now they have two popular hypotheses.
Some experts think the twitch happens when your brain misfires as you begin to dream. Others think it is a primate instinct that helps you from falling out of a tree.
If you’re experiencing a lot of these hypnagogic jerks, you should reduce your caffeine intake and practice mediation before bed. Caffeine and stress have been shown to exacerbate the reflex.
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