Sleep Shock
December 15, 2006 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Sometimes before I fall asleep (but after I've started to doze off), a strange electric shock runs through my body and wakes me up.

It doesn't happen very often, and seems to occur at random when it does. It feels exactly like you'd think an electric shock would, only sans any physical effects. When it occurs, I immediately open my eyes and realize that I've been dozing off. I doubt it's actual electricity, as it's happened in several different beds. Perhaps it's imaginary?

When I doze off, my mind usually goes through a "dream thought" phase, in which my thoughts slowly begin to overtake my senses and gradually become "reality". As this process is typically unnoticable, getting "zapped" gives me quite a shock (no pun intended): my dream "reality" is rapidly shattered, and I get the sensation of waking up from something... real.

Does this happen to anyone else?

Oh, and no -- it isn't a problem at all. I'm merely curious about the nature of the phenomenon.
posted by archagon to Science & Nature (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's called a "hypnic jerk", and it's been asked about here before.
posted by interrobang at 6:30 PM on December 15, 2006

Best answer: Does it seem like it might be a hypnic jerk?
posted by jessamyn at 6:30 PM on December 15, 2006

Best answer: Here.
posted by interrobang at 6:30 PM on December 15, 2006

Best answer: or...
posted by one_bean at 6:31 PM on December 15, 2006

Best answer: Also discussed here, here, and most notably for this particular question, here.

(Not trying to be snarky, there are slightly different perspectives and experiences in each of those threads.)
posted by Partial Law at 6:35 PM on December 15, 2006

Response by poster: Aha! Thank you.

I tried Googling it to no avail, so I figured there'd be no point in searching MeFi.
posted by archagon at 6:58 PM on December 15, 2006

Cool. I'm glad to know what these are called. I was falling asleep last night, then was woken up by this. Then couldn't fall asleep for two hours. Stupid jerks!

By the way, archagon, would you mind adding hypnicjerk as a tag? It could turn out helpful for future reference.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 7:45 PM on December 15, 2006

Response by poster: Sure.
posted by archagon at 7:52 PM on December 15, 2006

Are tag terms always condensed into oneword?
posted by neuron at 8:45 PM on December 15, 2006

also called myotonic jerk.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:47 PM on December 15, 2006

If you're searching for stuff that you suspect might be on Metafilter, Yahoo works much better than Google. The Yahoo crawler manages to index parts of Metafilter that Google's doesn't get to.
posted by flabdablet at 9:04 PM on December 15, 2006

Best answer: I have this happen, and it as sometimes been accompanied by a noise (which is entirely in my head).

I usually have these accompanied by a flash dream of falling down stairs or similar. Once I had a set of about 5 in a row - I was zooming down a hallway, crashed into the door at the end (and jerked violently), the dream door flew open and I was in the same hallway again, rushing down towards the door again. Woke up on the 5th door smash and couldn't sleep for hours.
posted by tomble at 10:22 PM on December 15, 2006

It's actually myoclonic, not myotonic.
posted by Iamtherealme at 10:52 PM on December 15, 2006

I've found this to be the surest way of telling whether my kids are asleep. I sit next to the bed as they drift off, and if I rest my hand on their body or watch closely, I'll notice the twitches. After a couple of these, they're unlikely to notice me walking softly out of the room.
posted by sudama at 6:59 AM on December 18, 2006

My dad swears that a ghost comes and grabs his foot at night and wakes him up. Before she passed away, my stepmother said the same thing. He's serious, but I'm thinking it must be this same phenomenon. By the way, he brought the ghost with him the last time he stayed at my house...creepy really.
posted by rcavett at 11:24 PM on December 23, 2006

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