Twitching In Sleep


Twitching in sleep can be an unsettling and scary experience for some people. It is a common phenomenon, with studies showing that up to 60% of adults report experiencing it at some point in their lives. Twitching in sleep is characterized by involuntary movements or jerks of the body during sleep that may or may not wake the person up. These movements can be very mild, or they can be violent and intense.


The exact cause of twitching in sleep is still unknown, but there are various theories about why it occurs. Some of the leading theories include:

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a common cause of twitching in sleep. When the body is sleep-deprived, the muscles become more likely to twitch involuntarily.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can also cause twitching in sleep. When the body is under stress, the muscles become tense and more prone to twitching.

Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption

Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption can also cause twitching in sleep. These substances can alter brain function and affect the way that the muscles function during sleep.


Certain medications, such as those used to treat Parkinson’s disease, can also cause twitching in sleep.

Types of twitching

Twitching in sleep can manifest in different ways, and there are various types of twitching:

Hypnic jerks

Hypnic jerks are the most common form of twitching in sleep. They occur when a person is falling asleep and feels like they are suddenly falling or getting an electric shock. These jerks can be very mild or severe enough to wake a person up.

Periodic limb movement disorder

Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is a more severe form of twitching in sleep. It is characterized by rhythmic contractions of the legs, feet, or toes during sleep, which can wake a person up several times during the night.

Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is another more severe form of twitching in sleep. It is characterized by an urge to move the legs due to discomfort, which can wake a person up during the night.

Diagnosis and treatment

Twitching in sleep does not always require medical attention. However, if the twitching is severe and frequent, it may require a diagnosis and treatment. A doctor may perform a physical examination and take a complete medical history to determine the underlying cause of the twitching. In some cases, the doctor may order additional tests, such as a sleep study, to monitor the body’s movements during sleep.

Treatment for twitching in sleep depends on the underlying cause. If it is caused by sleep deprivation, the doctor may recommend improvements in sleep habits, such as setting a regular sleep routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and reducing stress and anxiety. If the twitching is caused by a medical condition, the doctor may prescribe medication to alleviate symptoms.


In conclusion, twitching in sleep is a common phenomenon that can be caused by several factors, including sleep deprivation, stress and anxiety, and medication. It can be a mild or severe form of twitching, and treatment depends on the underlying cause. If twitching in sleep is affecting your quality of life, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and receive the appropriate treatment.


What is Twitching in Sleep?

Twitching in sleep, also known as hypnic jerks, are involuntary muscle movements that occur during the transition from wakefulness to sleep. These movements can range from mild to severe and can affect any part of the body, but most commonly occur in the legs or arms.

What Causes Twitching in Sleep?

The exact cause of hypnic jerks is unknown, but several factors may contribute to their occurrence. These factors include stress, anxiety, caffeine intake, and a disrupted sleep schedule. Additionally, hypnic jerks may be more common in individuals who exercise late at night or have underlying medical conditions such as restless leg syndrome.

How Can Twitching in Sleep be Treated?

Most cases of hypnic jerks do not require treatment as they are harmless and tend to resolve on their own. However, if the twitching is severe or disruptive to sleep, there are several strategies that may be helpful. These include practicing good sleep hygiene, avoiding caffeine and stimulating activities before bed, engaging in relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing, and in some cases, medication may be prescribed by a healthcare professional.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2019). Periodic limb movement disorder. Retrieved from

Teixeira, A., Rodrigues, T., & Rosa, A. (2019). Restless Legs Syndrome and Myoclonus: Is there a relationship? Sleep Science, 12(2), 131–136. doi: 10.5935/1984-0063.20190026 doi: 10.5935/1984-0063.20190026

Sato, M., & Sasanabe, R. (2016). Polysomnography and clinical aspects of sleep disorders: Periodic limb movements during sleep. Sleep Science and Practice, 1(1), 1-9. doi: 10.1186/s41606-016-0001-6 doi: 10.1186/s41606-016-0001-6