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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: polyphasic sleep and hypnic jerks

 mr_deeds - Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:58 pm

My name is Tim and I'm 25 years old. For the past 3 weeks I have been trying something called polyphasic sleep where I only nap 30 minutes every 4 hours. I read that after 2 weeks or so your brain will adapt and you won't feel tired thus saving sleep time. Well about 2 weeks into it I believe I had a hypnic jerk of some sort. I was sleeping and I jerked out of my sleep and it felt like somebody had punched me in the back of my head. Both of my ears were ringing and I had a pain in the back of my head for about 5 minutes. I was just wondering what this was to make me hurt and if I'm at risk of injury? I am not taking any medications at the moment and have been continuing with this sleep pattern. Since then I have had troubles going to sleep in the short amount of time in fear of another jerk and get stuck in this half asleep state most of the time. The funny thing is, is that even after these half naps I feel refreshed. I was just wanting to make sure I'm not at chance of any injury and get some professional input on the subject. Thank you...

 Debbie Miller, RN - Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:01 pm

User avatar I would have to disagree with this idea as a good thing from a health and safety point of view. I am a believer in the necessary sleep stages one through four and REM. I believe your body needs this completed cycle which takes 90 to 100 minutes before repeating. Different brain wave patterns are present in the different stages of sleep. Their purposes are not fully understood. However, research indicates that long-term memories are formed in REM sleep, so if you never reach this stage, there may be long-term consequences.

I can't say that you won't have a similar jerk, as movements in sleep are common during stage 1 sleep. But, it makes sense that if you are only getting light sleep, you are getting more of this stage sleep, so perhaps are more prone to hypnic myoclonic jerks.

Drowsy driving is also a serious danger if you do not get adequate rest. I don't believe there is any activity you will do during this disrupted sleep pattern that would be more important than quality sleep for your overall health and feeling of well-being that comes from restful sleep..
 mr_deeds - Thu Jul 26, 2007 3:56 pm

Thanks for the quick reply. Right now I'm currently in school and working at home doing web design. I'm falling behind in my classes and have been wanting to try this for a while now. I was in the military for 4 years and can't find a job now that I'm out. I've been playing catch up and am always stressed cause I can't take care of myself and can't afford health insurance. Thanks for the input though...


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