Sleep Jerking-Help in a Flash

11 Feb

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It could go like this:

“Honey, come look at this!  What is he doing?”

You walk over to the monitor and see your child doing a couple of quick jerks.

Or this:

Your child is sick with a fever so you pull them up into bed with you.

Next thing you know, you get a rapid punch to the face or kick in the knee by a child that is completely asleep.

Those rapid “shock-like” jerks are called myoclonus.  They can occur anytime but often occur during sleep.  They are usually single jerks but 2 or 3 are not concerning.

They tend to increase in activity when a child is sick, especially with fever.  This makes them concerning to parents for many reasons: 

  • Is this happening because they are sick?
  • Does this mean that they are really sick?
  • You are paying closer attention to them, even during sleep.
  • Parents bed share when children are sick.

I have great news!  There’s nothing to worry about!

These movements are normal.  Everyone does them to some degree.

You should notify your doctor if:

  1. Jerks happen in series of more than 3
  2. Jerks happen during the day while the child is awake
  3. You have associated concerns (especially neurologic or developmental)
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