What are sleep starts?

You’re warm and toasty, and you begin to feel weightless as you drift off towards a delicious sleep. Then suddenly, you get a terrible sensation of falling into nothingness, and jerk awake after a spasmodic twitch of your leg or arm. Sound familiar? This experience is actually quite common, and called a hypnic jerk, or more commonly, sleep starts. However, if you experience it regularly, you should consider your sleeping schedule and bed and pillow to ensure that you’re getting enough sleep, as they seem to be exacerbated by sleep deprivation.

The falling sensation in your dreams is caused by dream incorporation.
The falling sensation in your dreams is caused by dream incorporation.

As many as 60 to 70% of Americans experience sleep starts before falling asleep, so it’s not unusual to have one before falling asleep or even during the night while you are asleep. There are many different explanations for what causes sleep starts and what they are, as no one has a conclusive explanation as yet, but what is generally agreed upon is that they are found more regularly in people whose sleep schedules are chaotic, who drink too much caffeine, and who have not had enough sleep lately, or their sleep has been interrupted. Sleep starts are in no way harmful or really bad in and of themselves: they are merely an involuntary twitch of the muscles as you start relaxing into sleep, but they are great symptoms for how well you are sleeping.

That falling sensation is your mind making sense of your body's actions.
That falling sensation is your mind making sense of your body’s actions.

One of the explanations for sleep starts which has no real evidence, but is none the less quite widely accepted, is that they are a relic from the time when humans still slept in trees, and as our bodies relax, we experienced a sleep start to remind ourselves not to fall out of the tree by relaxing too much. Someone else’s theory is that they are caused by the two opposing forces of waking or sleeping warring against each other over what your body should be doing. One thing that has been tested and found to be true is that they occur more often in people who have not had enough sleep. If you are experiencing sleep starts quite regularly and are woken by them once or twice before dropping off, consider that they are basically a warning system for how well your sleeping schedule is doing, and how rested you are.

hypnic jerk falling asleep

One cause of sleeping badly is a mattress that is uncomfortable in some way. If your mattress is too old, if it is sagging in the middle or on the sides, if it has body impressions, if it in any way impedes you having restful sleep, even by being too firm or too soft, this will greatly affect your sleep, from how well you slept, to how you feel the next day, to whether your sleep schedule is irregular or not if you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time. A mattress should feel firm and supportive under you without pressing against your pressure points and making you restless during the night. However, if you feel swallowed by your softer one, it is also too soft. Most importantly, your lower back and lumbar region should be supported, because while you sleep your muscles completely relax, and they can be twisted and strained by a mattress that does not hold them while you sleep.

back pain

Everyone has a different comfort preference, which is why there are so many brands and types of beds, from pocket coils (most famously by Simmons), to Bonnel coils (used by everyone from Edblo to Rest Assured), to continuous coil (like Silentnight). Some are cheaper than others, to fit into everyone’s budget, and some have a different feel to them, to allow for different preferences. Many South Africans swear by their Cloud Nine mattress. A slightly firmer foam mattress, Cloud Nines are made with memory foam and other foams, and are well loved in South Africa. Others wear by the feel of latex. But we all agree on one thing: we want to sleep well and comfortably without needing to toss and turn to find some comfort. To find a quality bed or a good quality mattress for kids bunk beds for a great price that suits your preferences, call us at The Mattress Warehouse on 0861 007 000, or buy online on our website here, if you already know what you want. Our passion is that you sleep well every night, and we will do our best to help you do so, so give us a call today, and we will deliver your bed free to your doorstep.