Find out about regular muscle twitching during sleep or shortly before, not the “jerks” of myoclonus…
This article is about regular muscle twitching as one falls asleep or during sleep, not the jerking movements that are termed myoclonus.
“A different sensation can occur during any sleep stage, but is most pronounced in some people as they first hit the pillow and start to fall asleep,” says Anthony P. Geraci, MD, associate professor of neurology at Donald & Barbara Zucker School of Medicine in New York.
“I am referring to muscle twitches, or fasciculations. These can occur in any muscle but are most pronounced in the upper arms and calves. Generally they do not occur in the muscles of the back.
“Here’s the rub: We tend to notice twitches as we start to fall asleep because there is nothing in our environment to distract us.
“As we fall asleep, we are essentially going into a deep meditation and our thoughts are turned inward.
“This may cause us to over-interpret normal twitches of the muscles. Remember, our muscles are constantly repairing themselves from being used while awake, and during that process the muscle membrane can become unstable and contract.
“That’s it; ignore the twitching and let yourself slumber. Your muscles will do their thing and prepare for the next day of activity.”
I’ve had fascics upon awakening in the morning. It’s possible that the muscle was twitching while I was asleep.
There is nothing unique about slumber that would make typical twitching any more meaningful than fascics you experience while fully awake.
It’s just that for many people, sleep is mysterious, so any twitching right before or coming out of sleep tends to really grab one’s attention.
Dr. Geraci adds, “If you think you are getting too many twitches, twitching of the back muscles or jerking movements that wake you from sleep, see your doctor or a neurologist.
“I see young and healthy patients with these symptoms on a weekly basis and invariably everything checks out fine!”
Dr. Geraci is also the director of neuromuscular medicine at Northwell Health in New York.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.