Home > Ask Our Experts > Involuntary Jerking While Asleep, What Could it be?

Involuntary Jerking While Asleep, What Could it be?

By: Wendy Jacob - Updated: 8 Oct 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Restless Leg Syndrom Periodic Limb

Q.

My husband (virtually every night) has involuntary jerking of his entire body. I have timed these jerks and they are every 10 seconds at its worst! They can go on for hours and it's driving me insane. After 4 hours or more I lose my patience and ask him to sleep in the spare room. I hate the fact we sleep apart but I suffer ME and being kept awake for so long means I can barely function some days.

Has this got a name? Is it a medical problem? I have read some stuff about this but not to the extent he is doing it. Three years ago he suffered a great deal of stress, could it be that?

(Mrs K.M., 19 January 2009)

A.

The first thing to remember is that sleep is not the same as 'relaxation'. When you are alert but relaxing the muscles are relaxed and still. As soon as you fall asleep the mind is not controlling movement and you enter the different stages of sleep. We are all familiar with how the body moves when asleep and some people are more restless sleepers than others. Assuming that the restlessness and jerking is not causing any distress, this is nothing to be worried about and most people will be familiar with the experience of a jerk when they are drifting off to sleep.

Periodic Limb Movements

Of more concern would be Periodic Limb Movements, or Restless Leg Syndrome, which occurs mainly in the lower limbs and more frequently than an occasional jerk. Sleep Epilepsy also causes limb movements and other symptoms. If the jerking is causing distress or daytime fatigue, a visit to a GP will rule out any medical condition.

Look at the information in the Sleep Problems Category of this site and be assured that movement during sleep is normal and worry can keep you awake! The sleeping person is often unaware of the problem but it can keep a partner awake especially if they are concerned about their partner.

Visit Your GP

It would be helpful for both partners to check up on their sleeping habits and a visit to the GP will be useful in case there are any other underlying problems. Stress can have an impact on sleeping habits and last long after whatever triggered the stress has disappeared.

Moving beds in the middle of the night is not a long-term solution and with ME it is important that regular rest and sleep is obtained. If this is becoming a frequent occurrence, it may be a short-term solution to go to bed separately so that you both get a decent nights sleep occasionally. A cuddle in the morning will compensate for a few hours apart!

Check on your 'sleep hygiene' too – are you eating late at night and does your husband get enough exercise? Maybe there are a few changes you could make to encourage better sleep...

Make sleep your priority and get the help you need from your GP. Many people suffer for years before asking for help. Good luck!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I would start jerking the second I closed my eyes. I once counted 100 jerks in 45 minutes. They would get progressively worse until it was like walking into a wall but no pain. I now take 300mg of magnesium glycinate. I tried regular magnesium and it made no difference. I still jerk but they take longer to start, are much milder and I am able to fall asleep. It has been amazing. So glad not to have to add another prescription medication.
Heidi - 8-Oct-18 @ 5:04 PM
@loulou - is he stressed, does he have a new job or something that is on his mind? As it may be about this and is hopefully not long term. You could always try sleeping in separate bedrooms until it is sorted out, if you need to get a good night's sleep. There are a lot of people recommending this these days, as we all have such demanding jobs and busy lives that it can drive us nuts if we don't get our full sleep quota. I hope you and he manage to sort this out soon.
Libby - 17-Mar-15 @ 12:05 PM
My partner is driving me mad all night he his jerking and keeping me awake he only used to do this for the first 10 minute of sleeping when we first met now its all night what can you recommend
loulou - 14-Mar-15 @ 9:34 AM
Hi there am a 32 and have suffered sleep problem since was dignosed with fibromyalgia iv tried various medicines to help with pain and sleep but still can't sleep I often get by on 3hrs sleep my gp won't put me on anything to help me sleep I end up having a seizure Im currently on amirtiptyline to help but it don't help im waiting to see neurolgy and a pain specialist but im desprate to get help
nat - 21-May-13 @ 3:06 AM
my legs jerk and so do my arms. not only at night but any time i sit quietly any sugestions?
none - 22-Jul-12 @ 1:18 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Heidi
    Re: Involuntary Jerking While Asleep, What Could it be?
    I would start jerking the second I closed my eyes. I once counted 100 jerks in 45 minutes. They…
    8 October 2018
  • Lollipop
    Re: Understanding Lack of Sleep
    I go to sleep about 10pm, then wake at 12 and then 2am. After that I rarely can get bake to sleep. Sleeping pills don't work. I've…
    23 September 2018
  • Shorty
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    Your site is the first notice I have had of the connection between insomnia and dehydration. Now in my 80s, I have had poor sleep all…
    3 April 2018
  • Imran
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    Hello insominaics I have sleeplessness issue for 4 5 years. I could sleep after 2 3 hours after laying. But one month ago i have…
    30 March 2018
  • lyn
    Re: Sleeping Pills - Addiction and Withdrawal
    i am taking quater of rivotril for almost 4 months , please help me to withdrawl this pill
    30 March 2018
  • Geo
    Re: Body Clock and Sleep
    I have the same comments to make that Porge have stated ,is there a way to change the time to later in the evening ,such as 10.30 pm
    26 December 2017
  • Insomniacs
    Re: What Happens at a Sleep Lab?
    Sleepless in Stockpo - Your Question:I have an 8 month old who I cosleep with and since becoming a mum am struggling with…
    7 December 2017
  • Sleepless in Stockpo
    Re: What Happens at a Sleep Lab?
    I have an 8 month old who I cosleep with and since becoming a mum am struggling with insomnia. I feel like I've tried everything!…
    6 December 2017
  • Ruggero
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    Causality here can easily trick our minds. An inverse association between thirst and insomnia is known. This does not necessarily mean…
    28 October 2017
  • Lizzy Lu
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    I suffer from pulmonary aspiration and can only handle about a cup of liquids per day. I have been chronically dehydrated since March,…
    28 July 2017