Most of you have jerked awake just as your sleep begins. Likewise, you have probably seen a sleeping person twitch their feet or hands. So, what makes people twitch when they are supposed to be sound asleep?

What Is Twitching?

Twitching is the sudden, involuntary movement that occurs at any given time, which includes when you are deep in sleep. The movements can be temporary and may not even require treatment. However, there are instances where involuntary twitching is a sign of several different medical conditions.

That is why it is important for people to determine the types of twitches they have. Describing a twitch is not easy. As a result, it becomes hard to pinpoint the cause or possible condition. There are some people who will say that they twitch when asleep due to muscle spasms. Some people may even describe tics when talking of twitches. Here are the different types of twitches:

  • Myoclonus. This is involuntary movement that appears when there is sudden relaxation or tensing of muscles or a muscle.
  • Convulsions. These are involuntary spasms that are identical to seizures.
  • Tics. These are intermittent and spontaneous repetitive movements. Tics tend to focus on one area such as the trunk, face, shoulders, hands and neck.
  • Muscle spasms. These are the involuntary contraction of muscles that mostly cause cramping. Leg cramps also occur when you are sleeping and it is a common problem that may not need treatment. However, you should always tell your physician about the spasms you get at night.
  • Tremors. These are involuntary movements that happen in a rhythmic motion. They are gentler compared to tics, spasms and convulsions.

What Causes Twitching in Sleep?

1. Sleep Tremors

The hands, arms and legs are the areas that are mostly affected by tremors. Tremors also occur in the trunk, face and voice when you are sleeping. When tremors occur while you are sleeping, they could be symptoms of some neurological disorder. Tremors can be caused by alcohol withdrawal, alcohol consumption, an overactive thyroid or it can run in the family. Even though it is most common in people who are over 40 years old, tremors can occur at any age.     

2. Sleep Myoclonus

Myoclonus twitches can either appear in pattern sequences or alone. There are cases where they appear in a specific body area then spread to other muscles in different parts of the body. This twitching mostly appears when you are in the initial sleep phase. It could also be a symptom of sleep disorder like the restless leg syndrome.  

3. Sleep Convulsions

These are involuntary spasms of the muscles and can last up to two minutes. When you are having sleep convulsions, take note of the legs or arms that are shaking, whether there is a change in consciousness or if you have fever. Sleep convulsions can be signs of medical conditions such as head injuries, heart disease, epilepsy, or low blood sugar. Seek medical attention if the convulsions do not stop.

4. Dystonia

This movement disorder is what causes dystonic tremors. It can affect people of all ages. The movements are as a result of twisting motions and painful positions that occur when your muscles involuntarily contract.

5. REM Behavior Disorder

REM is a stage in sleep where your eyes start moving rapidly. Normal REM behavior is when your body is hobble with sleep paralysis, but the brain is still processing information. It is in this phase that strong dreams occur. If you have REM disorder, you will twitch violently and have muscle spasms when in REM phase. The muscles react and twitch as they are behaving within a dream.

How to Treat Twitching in Sleep

1. Home Remedies for Twitching in Sleep

Home remedies are usually effective solutions to muscle twitching. It is important to identify the reason for twitching in order to find a viable solution.



Learn to de-stress and relax

Try taking deep breathes. Muscle relaxation techniques will also help after a tedious day. Pilates and yoga are also great.

Exercise daily

Make exercising part of your day. Have 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily as it will encourage healthy sleep and reduce stress.

Eat food rich in magnesium

Some of the foods that are rich in magnesium include seeds, nuts, peas, beans and green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.

Change bedtime routine

If you twitch after taking alcohol or some medication, you can change your routine for bedtime.

Drink plenty of water

To avoid twitching caused by dehydration, limit your consumption of beer, soda and coffee.

Take vitamin supplements

If the twitching is caused by vitamin deficiency, take vitamin supplements to replenish your supply of vitamin and minerals. This will alleviate the symptoms. Consult your physician before taking any vitamin supplements so that the deficiency will be identified first.

Keep a healthy lifestyle

Keep warm when sleeping. Relaxing your muscles can also alleviate twitching symptoms. Taking a warm bath, stretching exercises and massages will also help relax your muscles. You should also eat a balanced diet to prevent muscle twitching. Incorporate minerals and vitamins such as folate, zinc, calcium, iron and magnesium.

2. Talk to Your Doctor About Twitching in Sleep

When it comes to treating sleeping problems, consulting your physician is one of the most critical steps. If it’s needed, you will be required to participate in a sleep study. During sleep study, there are devices used by technicians to measure the movements of your body (which includes twitches). The study helps to determine what causes your sudden movements and what the appropriate treatment will be.

Some interventions include:

  • Treatments for leg cramps
  • Exercises
  • Sleep tips
  • Restless leg syndrome treatment.

If twitching in sleep sleep recurs and interferes with your ability to sleep, you should consult your physician about it.