Current Sleep Medicine Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 19–27 | Cite as

Sleep-Related Movement Disorders: Hypnic Jerks

  • Robyn Whitney
  • Shelly K. Weiss
Sleep Movement Disorders (A Avidan, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sleep Movement Disorders


Purpose of Review

Hypnic jerks represent a benign physiological phenomenon of sleep, which must be differentiated from other sleep-related movement disorders and epilepsy. A comprehensive review of hypnic jerks is presented with emphasis on recognition, physiology, evaluation, and treatment.

Recent Findings

The recent edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD-3) has classified hypnic jerks as a sleep-related movement disorder under the subheading isolated symptoms and normal variants. Although generally benign, there have been increasing reports of excessive hypnic jerks in neurological disorders such as Parkinsonism, migraine, and brainstem lesions and children with neurologic disorders. Recent research identifying changes in the polysomnogram has led to a better understanding of the physiology of hypnic jerks. A variety of different motor patterns have been described; however, the origin and physiology of hypnic jerks remain enigmatic.


Hypnic jerks represent a fascinating phenomenon of sleep; however, additional studies are needed to clarify their physiology and origin.


Hypnic jerks Sleep starts Hypnagogic jerks Sleep-related movement disorders Myoclonus Physiology 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Robyn Whitney and Shelly K. Weiss declare no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of NeurologyThe Hospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada

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