Q:

What does it mean if you start jerking in your sleep?

A:

Quick Answer

Sudden muscle contractions are generally the cause of involuntary jerks during sleep, and they tend to be harmless, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. If the contractions are persistent or severe, it may be a sign of a brain or nerve disorder.

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What does it mean if you start jerking in your sleep?
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Full Answer

Sudden, involuntary twitches and jerks are also known as myoclonus. Hiccups and sleep jerks are examples of simple forms of myoclonus that can occur in normal, healthy individuals. Sleep jerks are usually not a cause for concern, though they can sometimes be a symptom of sleep disorders that may require treatment, states the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

An acute case of myoclonus that is continuous or debilitating may be a symptom of serious health conditions such as infections, strokes, brain tumors, chemical poisoning, and head or spinal cord injuries, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Myoclonus is common in individuals with epilepsy and may also manifest in individuals with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Doctors often prescribe tranquilizer drugs such as clonazepam to treat myoclonus. Other drug options include barbiturates, levetiracetam, phenytoin, primidone and sodium valproate. Doctors may also use a combination of multiple drugs to increase effectiveness, states the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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