Crash Course: Myoclonic Jerks

Have you ever been falling asleep, then find yourself jerking awake? Or have you ever had that dream where you’re falling and falling and there’s no hope you’ll catch yourself and as the ground races up towards your face your head suddenly snaps back and you’re awake?

If you have, it might be a sign that your brain wants to keep you alive.

The “disorder” is technically called sleep myoclonus, and it describes a sudden and involuntary muscle jerk either during or just before falling into sleep.

Scientists don’t know a whole lot about it, as it turns out, but apparently the more severe cases of myoclonus are most likely due to brain damage. That’s not all that happy, so let’s stick to the more mundane cases, like the hiccups.

The reason this cheered me up is because of a theory I heard while listening to my favorite podcast, “Stuff You Should Know.” It was detailing the behavior of these goats and these kittens which suffer from a disorder known as myotonia congenita.

In the podcast they pointed to the fact that sleep myoclonus is related to the disorder heald by “Tennessee Stick Leg” goats, but that some theories maintain that humans jerk awake right before sleep because their brains think that the body is dying and it says, “No Way!”

Personally, I like to know my body is looking out for me. That’s why this one gets a smile.

Also because those videos are freaking hilarious.

For more information about myoclonus click here.

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