Shaking while sleeping is typically caused by the onset of anxiety, stress, night tremors and hiccups, according to Mayo Clinic. In extreme cases, shaking while sleeping could be a symptom of an underlying disease such as epilepsy or Parkinson's disease.
When a person shakes during sleep, it is often termed myoclonus, also known as muscle jerks. More serious underlying causes of this condition include head or spinal cord injuries, kidney or liver failure, chemical or drug poisoning, and autoimmune inflammatory conditions, according to Mayo Clinic. An infection, medication reaction or nervous condition could also cause shaking while sleeping.
When people experience a stroke or are suffering from a brain tumor, it is common to shake during sleep, according to Mayo Clinic. Prolonged oxygen deprivation, lipid storage disease and metabolic disorders also cause muscles to jerk or the body to shake during sleep. Diseases associated with shaking during sleep include Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's frontotemporal dementia, multiple system atrophy, corticobasal degeneration and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Treatments vary and focus on the underlying cause of the shaking versus the symptom alone, according to Mayo Clinic. The most common medications include tranquilizers to combat the shaking and anti-convulsants to control seizures during sleep. When a specific area of the body shakes, Botox injections are sometimes used to control the twitching.