The Spiritual Reasons Why Your Body Jerks Itself Awake

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spiritual woman in bed

We have all experienced the feeling of being snatched out of sleep. Maybe it felt like you were falling, or maybe you felt a muscle contraction and you were awakened unexpectedly.

These involuntary body movements you experience are called hypnic jerks or hypnagogic jerks.

What is a hypnic jerk?

Hypnic jerks are involuntary muscle spasms or muscle twitches that occur when you start to fall asleep. They usually occur during light sleep and disappear once the body enters REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

The scientific name for hypnic jerks is myoclonus, and it happens as the body is transitioning from an awake state to sleeping. Up to 70% of the population has experienced a hypnic jerk before.

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The exact cause of hypnic jerks is unclear, but it is believed that lack of sleep, stimulants such as caffeine, drugs, and nicotine, and stress or anxiety contribute to their frequency.

Hypnic jerks can also be the result of your body battling between being awake and falling to sleep. They are most described as a sensation of tripping or falling, or an electric shock, and are often accompanied by increased heart rate, sweating, quickened breathing, and/or vivid dreams.

Outside of disrupting your sleep, there are no negative side effects from hypnic jerks. You can calm yourself down by taking a deep breath and slowing your heart rate.

Hypnic Jerks Spiritual Meanings

1. You're facing setbacks and roadblocks.

When you get the sensation of falling while sleeping, you may be experiencing some obstacles in life that could negatively impact your sense of stability.

The universe may be sending a sign that you have made a bad decision and need to prepare for the consequences.

Chronic hypnic jerks can indicate that you are making a string of wrong decisions and need to adjust your strategy. They make you aware of challenges or changes that will change your life and give you a hint that you should prepare for them.

2. You feel lost or directionless.

There are times in life when you will be uncertain of what your purpose is or what path to take. At moments where you lack direction, these contractions may be a sign that you need to get back on track.

They are reminders that you need to be self-aware and introspective to make your next move your best move.

Sleep disruptions can be the universe letting you know that your steps are guided and you are supported. It is a sign from your spiritual guardians that you are never alone.

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3. You're experiencing a spiritual awakening.

In Buddhism, the hypothesis is that the dream-like state that you are in when experiencing hypnic jerks is an important part of becoming spiritually aware.

Buddhists believe that the involuntary spasms and the accompanying visual hallucinations indicate that the body is in a transitional state of consciousness, leaving the mind ready and open to receive spiritual awareness.

There are varying ideas on the spiritual reason why the body jerks itself awake, but they share a common theme. All of them are based in awareness.

Whether you are being notified that you are being watched over, prepared for a battle, prompted to awaken your consciousness, or pushed to better understand yourself and your life’s work, you are becoming more aware — and that is always a good thing.

4. God, or a higher power, is protecting you.

From a religious perspective, depending on who you talk to, hypnic jerks can mean a couple of things.

One perspective is that they are a sign that God is keeping a watchful eye on you. On the flip side, some think that Satan is attempting to keep you awake.

The belief is that as you slip into temporary paralysis during sleep, Satan attempts to make you consciously aware of your vulnerable state of sleep paralysis, creating fear.

The ability to recover from these sudden awakenings is thought to be a symbol that God will protect you from evil spirits, even in your most vulnerable state.

Another religious belief is that hypnic jerks are a reminder to pray while you are fully conscious and before you fall into your most relaxed state. People who believe this are prompted to return to full consciousness and pray.

Whatever your belief system, some of the perceived spiritual meanings of hypnic jerks may resonate with you.

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NyRee Ausler is a blogger from Seattle, Washington, and author of three books. She covers lifestyle, entertainment and news, and self-focused content, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.

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