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Jerking awake while sleeping

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andy1977 +0 points · 7 months ago Original Poster

Hi all,

Not sure if this is the best place, but hoping someone can help me out.

For the last month or so, I’ve been jerking awake during sleep, including during during dreams but also when I don’t appear to be dreaming. It frequently feels like my body or a part of my body (eg shoulder, arm, etc) will jerk as I wake (I think it’s as I wake and not before I wake) but it’s not clear to me if I do. Basically, I’m sleeping then jerk awake & it feels as if a body part will jerk.

For example, last night, it happened twice. Once around 2am, and I kind of jerked awake (SleepScore said I was in light sleep). Kinda felt like maybe arm jerked but not sure. Then at 4am-ish, jerked awake from dream & it felt like my right shoulder jerked. Dream was a boring work dream & I was listening to co-worker talk to client when I jerked awake, so wasn’t “acting” anything out with right shoulder.

Anyone with any thoughts? Has anyone experienced this? Most of what I read about hypnic jerks indicates that they happen upon falling asleep, but these will happen 2-6 hours after falling asleep.

I’ve thought I’ve had sleep apnea for awhile (tired during the day and yawning a ton for 20+ years & always have a stuffy nose when I lie down unless I use afrin & even then left nostril usually feels constricted throughout night. And I certainly snore, and w/o the afrin is incredibly loud; with afrin it’s not too bad. Also, my day tiredness has increased in last month or two).

I’m terrified these jerks are indicative of REM sleep disorder, but I don’t appear to be acting anything out & am instead just jerking awake. I’m also not talking or vocalizing in my sleep at all.

As background, im a 41 yr old male, and these began after I saw a neuro to get checked for Parkinson’s, as I have benign tremors & just wanted to confirm nothing to worry about (he said I was fine). He asked if I ever acted out my dreams & I said to my knowledge “no” & that my girlfriend never said I have. I confirmed with her that I haven’t done so & haven’t done so since.

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Sierra +0 points · 7 months ago Sleep Innovater

I really can't say much on the jerking while waking. About all I know is that during REM sleep the body keeps you from moving and acting out your dreams. Perhaps that is not totally working for you in the transition to waking. Or it could just be waking up during REM sleep. I believe that is basically how you remember dreams. You have to wake up during them. And that all could be caused by sleep apnea. About the only way to know for sure is to get a sleep study. Normally the process is to do a screening test first, and if that indicates a higher risk, then a sleep study is done. Here are are couple of tests you could self evaluate yourself with. See this link.

Sleep Apnea Screening

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andy1977 +0 points · 7 months ago Original Poster

Thank you. Yes, my fear is related to my body moving during REM when it shouldn’t... am hoping that is not the case & that something is causing me to startle awake, and as part of that jerking awake, a body part jerks... am hoping that someone with diagnosed sleep apnea does something similar, which will help lessen my fear.

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andy1977 +0 points · 7 months ago Original Poster

And I took the test, had 3 on stop (1for S & 2 for T), one for BANG & 10-11 for Epworth, so certainly may have some level of it...

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Sierra +0 points · 7 months ago Sleep Innovater

Something to discuss with your doctor. The process may differ based on your location, but where I am, I was given these tests by my doctor, and when I came up as high risk, he arranged an at home sleep study to quantify the apnea. I failed that too, so now I have a CPAP!

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Neil +0 points · 7 months ago

Be careful with Afrin. It can cause the same problems it is supposed to fix. I have used it and found it to be very effective. Then it would wear off and I would use more. It became less and less effective and my congestion and runny nose got worse and worse. I figured out that the Afrin was causing the problem. The congestion and runny nose cleared up after I stopped using it.

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andy1977 +0 points · 7 months ago Original Poster

Thanks Neil. I’ve tried & I just get worse...

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Kinikea +0 points · 7 months ago

Try Benzedrex.. it is great for when you wake up in the night and one nostril is blocked. My allergist told me about it. You can buy it at most drugstores. Looks like a chapstick... sort of...

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wiredgeorge +0 points · 7 months ago Sleep Enthusiast

Andy, This is a matter for your primary care physician initially. The "jerking awake" issue likely isn't caused by sleep apnea but possibly a neurological issue. Best to get expert help with this and your doc can point you to the correct specialist.

Does sound like you may have sleep apnea as well. Be careful with this as your blood oxygen drops and can be harmful to vital organs. If your doc feels this may be the case, ask for an in-clinic study as they can monitor for other issues like restless leg syndrome and have the actual equipment to monitor your sleep states. I would be leery of a phone app monitoring sleep states but who knows? In any case, the issues you are having may or may not be related but should be checked out professionally. Home sleep studies lack the capability to test all the things an in-lab study tests and with your complication of perhaps multiple issues would seem to be a prudent choice.

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andy1977 +0 points · 7 months ago Original Poster

Thank you. Your response has me quite worried, but thanks for being direct. I made an appt with a neurologist who’s a sleep specialist...

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jtucker521 +0 points · 7 months ago

I sometime hold my breath when I sleep, I breath in and forget to keep breathing, after a certain amount of time my brain realizes that i'm not breathing and I sit straight up in bad gasping for a breath, this will happen usually when i very first fall asleep and can happen 5 or 6 times over an hour trying to fall asleep, I don't know if this helps or if you wake up gasping but just tossing out idea

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andy1977 +0 points · 7 months ago Original Poster

Thanks. I’m not gasping when I wake, so I don’t think that’s it.

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wthankachan +0 points · 7 months ago

I had the same issue. I would jerk and awake while transitioning to sleep and multiple times during the night. It was very frustrating. This issue started around June of 2018. I had some strange symptoms beginning of the year and my PCP put me on Zoloft thinking I have anxiety issues. Zoloft made me worse and it was after stopping Zoloft that the jerking started. Then my PCP suggested sleep study and I turned out to have apnea. I have started using an APAP and most of my issues including the jerks have gone. I did notice recently one afternoon while I was taking a nap without the APAP the jerk came back. I immediately put on my APAP and I then slept jerk free. I think the symptoms of apnea are different for different people. For me sleepiness was never an issue. I used to exercise and maybe that helped. How ever I did have issues with muscle twitching, I have borderline LVH most likely caused by apnea. I am taking Losartan because my pressure went up to 200/90 on the treadmill. Some of the symptoms must have subsided due to the losartan. With Losartan and the APAP, I feel much better. Though I am still getting used to the APAP, I feel that I breath better during the day while being awake.

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andy1977 +0 points · 7 months ago Original Poster

Thanks! Would you jerk awake during dreams (with your body, or a part, jerking too?)

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wthankachan +0 points · 7 months ago

I don't remember if I awoke during dreams. I would awaken when transitioning into sleep. This would happen twice or thrice until I went into deep sleep and would happen again during sleep like 3 AM. Strong jerks that would wake me up from sleep. Sometimes it would be my arm, or my shoulder, my back muscles or my leg and sometimes my whole lower body. It would feel like a an electric pulse. My sleep quality suffered as if someone would wake me up just as I was falling asleep. I may have been dreaming during some of these times when this happened, not sure. RLS, as part of my sleep study was negative. No Afib. No EEG abnormalities. My blood work was normal for metabolic and kidney function. No nerve or muscular weakness. No changes in vision or hearing or reflex. Markers for inflammation were normal. My PCP did not think that an MRI would show anything. I have reduced exercise as my pressure was going up during exercise and I did not realize it. Now that I have been on Losartan for a month and have started APAP, I think it is time to start again. I hope this helps, and that you are able to narrow down the cause of your issue.

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