Why does a person shudder in a dream?

Startles in a dream are familiar to all people. Often they are accompanied by a feeling that you are falling, and because of this you wake up. Such a phenomenon has always aroused interest. Startles were attributed to the tricks of evil spirits, explained by the consequences of the work of the hypothalamus, the mechanisms of protecting a person from death in a dream. Sleep researchers have put forward many hypotheses, but they still cannot find a final and exhaustive explanation of why a person shudders in a dream.

Hypnagogic winces

There are several theories about the causes of startle in sleep. The most accurate are those associated with the excitation and contraction of muscle fibers.

  1. Strong emotional, psychological or physical stress during the day, which does not allow the muscles to relax. The brain gives an impulse to the body to relax, as a result, the whole body shudders, which is why a person sometimes wakes up.
  2. The transition from one phase of sleep to another. If before going to bed a person was engaged in vigorous activity, even dozing off, he will think about unsolved problems. The brain also continues to work actively. As a result, when sleep enters the slow phase, and brain and muscle activity has fallen, the body reacts with a start.
  3. Insufficiently good blood circulation in the lower extremities in adults due to an uncomfortable posture. With convulsive contractions of the muscles, the nervous system provokes a change in body position, which causes the legs to tremble.
  4. Reaction to a strong external stimulus.

Such unexpected muscle contractions do not pose any danger to humans. Doctors call them hypnagogic and are common to most people. They appear when all the nerve fibers leading to a particular muscle are simultaneously strongly excited. May occur in any part of the body.

Myoclonic convulsions

More attention should be paid to myoclonic seizures, as in some cases they may indicate a chronic disease. This type of abbreviation can be determined by characteristic features:

  • the body or limbs tremble unevenly;
  • convulsive movements are observed throughout the night;
  • over time, startling in a dream intensifies, becomes more frequent;
  • the muscle groups involved in the twitching process change.

Myoclonic seizures can be physiological or pathological.

  1. Physiological ones arise with a sharp noise from the outside or an unexpected touch for a sleeping person. In addition to inconvenience, such shudders do not pose any threat to health.
  2. Pathological can develop only when exposed to certain factors. They need treatment to get rid of them.

A person can wake up several times during the night from shuddering with his whole body, regularly feel night attacks of shudders, after a long night’s rest in the morning waking up with fatigue. This may be a symptom:

  • oxygen starvation of brain tissues;
  • degenerative-dystrophic changes;
  • mental and nervous diseases;
  • epileptic impulses.

Night cramps are often observed in people of retirement age, in people who have had strokes and neurosurgical operations, as well as in patients who have been taking sedatives for a long time.

If you do not identify in time the reasons for which startling occurs in a dream and do not eliminate them, then later this process can lead to sleep disturbance and insomnia.

How often do you feel like you start in your sleep?

Form start

  • Several times a month
  • Few times a week
  • Every night
  • Many times a night

Diseases that cause nighttime tremors

Heart failure, lack of iron in the body, diseases of the peripheral nervous system, tumors, genetic diseases, and even pregnancy can cause sensorimotor disorders that can only be detected after special examinations.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, snoring. The brain reacts to the cessation of oxygen supply by a sharp contraction of all muscles, causing awakening and restoration of normal breathing.
  • Restless legs syndrome. If the patient feels frequent tingling of the lower extremities, which gradually pass to the arms and torso, or he has a desire to stretch his legs, move them, this may be caused by restless legs syndrome. These symptoms may be associated with disruptions in the dopaminergic system, causing depression, pathological aggressiveness, impotence, and many more serious consequences. For advice, you need to contact a neurologist.
  • Nocturnal epilepsy. Nocturnal epilepsy is considered a very rare case of manifestation. This is a situation where epileptic seizures occur while the patient falls asleep.
  • Paroxysmal dystonia. Sharp spontaneous movements of the limbs can be caused by nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia. They occur both during sleep and at the time of awakening. To explain what made him shudder, a person cannot. Experts could not clearly establish why convulsions are observed in sleep, the treatment is the same as for epilepsy.

Startle Prevention

If falling during dreams and nightly tremors are not a violation caused by a malfunction of the body’s systems, then the provoking factor is emotional, mental or physical stress. In this case, for a restful sleep, it is necessary to relax and bring the muscles out of tone. For this you need:

  • listen to calm melodies;
  • take a relaxing bath;
  • drink tea with soothing herbs;
  • Get a massage if possible.


  • Scientists from the British Academy of Sound Therapy have named Marconi Union’s ” Weightless ” as the most relaxing song on Earth. Doctors and scientists tried to find out what melodies and rhythms contribute to complete relaxation.
  • When listening to this music, pressure decreases, the concentration of the stress hormone and brain activity decrease. The pulse slows down by 35%, the level of anxiety drops by 65%, there is a feeling of floating in weightlessness.
  • The sounds of the melody contribute to falling asleep, so the annotation to the composition says that it is forbidden to listen while driving.

If you wake up with a startle, don’t be scared or panic. Try to relax your whole body by focusing on the tips of your toes, imagining that they are getting warm, and gradually move this sensation to your legs, stomach, chest, arms, facial muscles. It will most likely help you sleep peacefully.

Night tremors are not always the consequences of the disease. With a properly organized working day, carefully calculated physical activity and moderate evening meals, you can get rid of them once and for all.

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