Hypnotic myoclonus: what they are and why they appear

We are quietly asleep and suddenly we feel like we are falling out of bed or where we are resting. However, when we open our eyes, due to fear, we realize that we have not even moved.

This is exactly what happens when a person he suffers from equine myoclonus. Sudden, uncontrollable movements which, although not a health risk, can become very annoying and disturbing.

    What is hypnotic myoclonus?

    A myoclonus consists of muscle movement of a sudden and sudden nature, Of short duration and which is not subject to the will of the person. In addition, in the particular case of hypnotic myoclonus, these tremors appear at the very moment when one passes from a state of wakefulness to the first phase of sleep.

    Typically, only one of these hypnotic myoclonus appears asymmetrically, the person has the feeling of falling. This perception of falling causes the person to wake up automatically and with a feeling of jump.

    Since the shocks can become very strong and temporarily cause some anxiety in the sufferer, hypnotic myoclonus is not considered a serious illness.

    These events, which occur in about 70% of the general population, they generally do not present a health risk and are considered to be a benign sleep impairment. Also, in some cases where they appear on time, they are seen as something perfectly normal. A typical event in the process of transitioning from wakefulness to sleep.

    In these specific cases, myoclonus is caused by changes in breathing, decreased heart rate, muscle relaxation, and temperature changes typical of sleep cycles.

    This curious phenomenon becomes more and more interesting when we know that a hypnotic myoclonus appears because, by considerably lowering our heart rate, our brain interprets it as a signal of death, so it sends a powerful nervous impulse to try to resuscitate the body.

      What causes them?

      At present, it has not yet been possible to determine the factors causing these hypnotic myoclonus. In other words, which internal or external agents they trigger this strong brain and muscle impulse.

      However, it has been found that certain conditions can significantly increase the possibility of these myoclonus or tremors occurring:

      • In times of stress, as well as both temporary and prolonged anxiety increases the risk of developing myoclonus during sleep.
      • The practice of high-impact physical activities, which involve significant muscle wear and fatigue, can also promote the onset of these sudden movements. This could be due to a deficiency in calcium, magnesium and iron.
      • Drinking alcohol and caffeine at night can increase your chances of suffering from these tremors.
      • Certain medications or drugs affecting the nervous system may also potentiate hypnotic myoclonus.
      • Finally, it is also studied as a lack of sleep resting in complicated or uncomfortable postures affects this phenomenon.

      When do they appear?

      Hypnotic myoclonus is an eventuality of the processes of sleep that appear when entering the first phase of it, when we leave the waking state and begin the first cycle of sleep.

      Also, if we are particularly tired, this transition from one state to another is faster. So, even if our muscles are very relaxed, our brain always remains active, and when the sensation of falling of our brain appears, it generates an impulse to keep us alert.

      While this feeling that we seem to fall into feels like it is a dream, as we experience it when we are almost asleep, this event or feature is not considered to be. The reason is that dreams, as we know them, only occur during the last phase of sleep; that is to say the REM phase.

      How can we avoid it?

      As discussed above, experimenting with these hypnotic myoclonus does not pose any risk to our health. However, when these appear more recurrently, it can generate a great feeling of confusion and unease.

      Below we will see a number of recommendations to avoid these shocks. However, if these appear very frequently and even more than once during the night, it is advisable to go to a doctor specializing in neurology.

      • Lower anxiety or stress levels with activities we enjoy or through relaxation or meditation exercises.
      • Perform relaxing activities before bed. Like a hot bath, light readings, etc.
      • Don’t exercise excessively for at least six hours before bedtime.
      • Get the recommended 8 hours of sleep. Also, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
      • Do not consume alcoholic or caffeinated drinks before going to bed.
      • Maintain a varied diet that provides enough magnesium and calcium that our bodies need.

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