Can Hypnic Jerks be Detrimental to Academic Performance.

Have you ever laid down after a long day, and suddenly as you’re dozing off you feel as if you’re falling and your body jerks? This is a benign sleep movement called a hypnic jerk. The causes of this movement are anxiety, stress, alcohol, caffeine, and being very tired or fatigued. (Green 2015) I feel that students may be the most susceptible to this condition. Even though they are said to be physically harmless. Every time I have experienced this I have been kept up for the rest of the night. A lack of sleep can result in many outcomes, especially in students’ academic performance. Lack of sleep has the potential to cause many things that can hurt ones grades.  I don’t see how this is possibly harmless.

The following observational article describes what part of the brain controls these outbursts and suggests that these phenomena are attributed to other factors in sleep that are unstable. College students on average get approximately six hours of sleep per night, while we all know the recommended suggestion is eight hours per night. This lack of sleep may attribute to more hypnic jerks in college students. There are many variables that may attribute to hypnic jerks in one’s sleep, so it is difficult to pinpoint the phenomena. Perhaps the variables are so confounded it’s impossible to tell which affects how many times an individual experiences this. Also if an experimental trial were to take place, what would the placebo be? I feel like it would be difficult to set a placebo, but the two control groups could simply be college students and non-college students.  However, as a college student, I believe we all experience the variables that cause hypnic jerks. I’d love to see an experiment conducted that addresses this.

In the month that we’ve been here at PSU I’ve been woken by hypnic jerks more often than I had been at home. I asked my room  mates about it and they also have admitted to being kept up. It could be very possible that the amount of hypnic jerks a student experiences and GPA is correlated. Now other confounding variables can be attributed to poor academic performance, but this is a possible component of causation in poor academic performance. I’m really excited to hear what my peers have to say about this. This topic has always intrigued me.


Pic Source

Hypnic Jerks – How To Avoid Waking With A Jolt




4 thoughts on “Can Hypnic Jerks be Detrimental to Academic Performance.

  1. Zachary Cope

    Great to read about something that happens to me so often. I experience these hypnic jerks all the time while i’m sleeping. Usually they happen to me when I’m on the verge of sleeping, but not quite in deep sleep. All the sudden I’ll feel like i’m falling and i’ll make a quick twitch and wake up noticing i’m laying right in bed. I do agree with your statement regarding how most people experience this when they are feeling more exhausted or stressed. Most of the time when I receive hypnic jerks, it’s usually on nights when i’m exhausted. I’m glad to know that this type of thing is normal, but i’m curious as to why it happens. Here’s an article with more insight on the science of why people experience hypnic jerks:

  2. Pedro de Mello

    This is an interesting topic indeed, and one I hadn’t given much thought before. I’ve always experienced hypnic jerks from time to time, but I thought it was just another quirk of the mind and that it was normal. It’s good to know now that it’s caused by stress, because I had never really associated the two.

    It’s important to know as well that it can lead to a vicious cycle. If one is stressed and can’t sleep, they might experience a hypnic jerk, keeping them awake and therefore depriving them from sleep, causing more stress and more hypnic jerks in the future. It’s always important to keep a balance in life so we aren’t overwhelmed by stress, since it can cause serious psychosomatic disorders such as anxiety or even depression in extreme cases.

  3. Asaad Saleh Salim Al Busaidi

    what made me become both interested and excited to read your post was because Hypnic Jerks have not happened to me since this fall and when I read the title of your topic I started asking myself why Hypnic Jerks stopped from happening to me these last two months. And when I finished reading the post I realized that the reason was because the schedule of classes helped me sleep well and for 8-9 hours. This is link for a website that explains when one is most likely to get the feeling of falling and why.

  4. Jarrod T Skole

    Great article. I can not tell you how many time I have woken myself up from the feeling of falling or hypnic jerks. Usually I am able to fall back asleep, but it takes some time for me to do it. But what I seemed to have realized after I wake myself up with these hypnic jerks, I am usually stressed out about a test or a paper that is due soon. Maybe there is a correlation between stress and these jerks that wake you up at night. Maybe our body is waking us up because it knows we are stressed and wants us to get whatever we need to do done.

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