Twitching Before Sleep

Updated on April 16, 2007
K.F. asks from Panama City, FL
12 answers

My 20 month old son recently started twitching different parts of his body right before going to sleep. This started happening a couple of months ago. I can tell it's a totally involuntary movement. It doesn't happen every time he falls asleep. Sometimes it really scares me due to how much he twitches. It is from his arms, to his torso, to his legs and feet. He doesn't go back till July for his 2yr check up, so I was wondering if anyone else has experienced this before.

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So What Happened?

Thankyou everyone for your responses. After all I have read I do think it is just hypnic jerks. Funny thing is he hasn't had anymore since I posted this request. If it happens again I will call he pediatrician to be sure. Thanks again, Krisa

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B.P.

answers from Tampa on

Does the jerks stop after he falls asleep?
You said it happens before he goes to sleep.
Pay attention and try to see if he grinds his teeth while sleeping.
If he does it could be RLS Restless Leg Syndrome.
Good Luck!

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K.D.

answers from Jacksonville on

I have seen other children that twitch while falling asleep and my husband also does it at times. It seemed fairly normal to me, so I wouldn't get too worked up yet. However your pediatrician should be able to tell you for sure or request tests that will.

Hypnic jerk
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A hypnic or hypnagogic jerk is an involuntary muscle twitch (more generally known as myoclonus or a myoclonic twitch) which often occurs during the transition from wakefulness to sleep (see hypnagogia). It is often described as an electric shock or falling sensation, and can cause movement of the body in bed. Hypnic jerks are completely normal, and are experienced by most people, especially when over-tired or sleeping uncomfortably.

The exact cause of the sudden jerks is not clear, but there are hypotheses:

* That it is a naturally occurring part of the sleep process, as is slower breathing, and reduced body temperature.
* That the feelings associated with relaxation before sleep are misinterpreted by the brain as falling or toppling over, and by reflex the body jerks out the limbs to stay upright.

Occurrence

Hypnic jerks are usually felt just once or twice per night. More regular (and usually less dramatic) muscle twitches often occur during normal sleep (perhaps as often as one every thirty seconds). In extreme cases, this may be classified as a disorder called periodic limb movement. The person with the disorder will usually sleep through the events.

When a subject is deprived of sleep and is trying to fight sleep, hypnic jerks can occur more often. This normally happens to subjects who have deprived themselves of sleep for longer than 24 hours.

1 mom found this helpful
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K.

answers from Tampa on

If you are concerned call your pediatrician to ease your worries. Without seeing the movement no one can say that he is having seizures. I twitch at night occasionally also, sometimes enough to wake myself up. My husband twitches also. My 21 month old does too. If it is only happening upon going to bed it is not likely to be seizure activity. I know at my ped office I can just call and ask the nurse a question instead of just taking my son in. If it is concerning you, you should do that. Always go with your gut.
Good luck
K.

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R.H.

answers from Tampa on

I would call your pediatrician, but it sounds like myabe it's just his body relaxing. But if it's something he's never done before you should get on the phone with the dr. asap.My daughter twitches a little bit when she's falling asleep as well, but it's only small twitches. Only once in a while will she have a big one, like almost her whole body. I also notice that I myself do the same thing, particularly after a day filled with a lot of tension and I finally get a chance to relax.

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M.H.

answers from Sarasota on

Yes, they are definately going to want to run some tests to see if they are seizures and what is causing them. Even if they are, it doesn't mean there is something horrible happening, so don't panic. Very mild things can cause seizures, but I wouldn't wait until July. Let us know!!

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J.F.

answers from Sarasota on

K.,

It sounds like your son may be having seizures. I would contact his Dr immediately just to rule out anything being wrong. Good luck.

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B.P.

answers from Tampa on

Does the jerks stop after he falls asleep?
You said it happens before he goes to sleep.
Pay attention and try to see if he grinds his teeth while sleeping.
If he does it could be RLS Restless Leg Syndrome.
Good Luck!

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M.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

Please call your pediatrician. Tell him all of your observations, and go from there. It is best to rule out everything, you know?

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V.

answers from Sarasota on

K.,

I would take him to the Dr. just to make sure. My son had seizures when he was little, from the time he was 2 years until he was around 5 years old.He is 12 now and he is perfectlt normal and healthy. The Dr. couldn't find anything wrong with him. His Dr. said a lot kids have them and it's noththing to wory about, they outgrow it. I would take him in to make sure it's not somthing serious. You probably shouldn't wait until July. If it is somthing that is serious I think 3 months is to long to wait.

J.S.

answers from Ocala on

I actually learned about this in a psychology class in college. It is completely normal and actually adults do it too. What it is is just that your child has been very active during the day and his muscles are just trying to relax in order to go to sleep. It's kind of like just shaking off that last little bit of energy. My husband does it so violently sometimes that it actually wakes him up. It's kind of funny. So....it's just a natural part of the sleep cycle.

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J.P.

answers from Tampa on

I think twitching before sleep is completely normal. I still twitch before I fall asleep as does my husband. On the other hand, my kids don't twitch, Hmm?

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W.M.

answers from Ocala on

You should go with your gut, and if you think you should take him to the doctor, take him.

Both of my sons used to do this. I noticed, however, that they didn't do it every night. Before I panicked, I paid attention, and I noticed that they only seemed to do it on days when they had been particularly active, or were overtired (for example, the babysitter would mention they didn't take a nap). I took my oldest to the doctor, and told him my observations. He gave my son a physical, and said he thought that it was just my son's body releasing extra energy or tension, relaxing, so that he could sleep. When my youngest son did it, I watched as before, and when it followed the same pattern as my oldest, didn't worry about it.
Both my boys are happy and healthy.

Good luck and I'm sure everything is fine!

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B.C.

answers from Pensacola on

Hi K.. I dont' know if someone said this prior, as i havent' read all the responses yet, so forgive me if i repeat. What you are describing sounds very normal. There is a defense mechinism in the body, that will jerk when you are falling asleep. I can't remeber what it's called, but essentially your body gets its messages crossed and instead of thinking the body is going to sleep. It misreads that signal and thinks it is dying. So the jerks you are seeing is the body's way of rousing the "victim" to keep them alive. This usually happens if you've been seriously injured, or are in a situation where staying awake is essential to life. If this is what it truly is then, IT is normal, it is harmless. If you are worried though. I wouldnt' think seziures, cause seziures usually are very noticable, and involve not being able to rouse the person. i urge you to call your ped.
B.

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