WELLNESS
01/27/2012 05:36 pm ET

5 Tips For Battling Sleep Tremors

Sleep tremors are a common sleep disorder whose sufferers include would-be sleepers from across all demographics. We spoke to Subin Jain, M.D., a specialist in pulmonary medicine, sleep medicine, internal medicine and critical care medicine at the Sleep Disorders Center at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Kentucky, for one approach to the medical problems you or your loved one may suffer from when trying to sleep.

If you think you might suffer from sleep tremors, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Tracie Handley

"Sleep tremors, or hypnic jerks -- often called sleep starts -- which everybody has, are basically the startled, jerky movements we have when we are going to bed," Dr. Jain explains. "Especially in children, you will see that they jerk or have a startled response. It can be more than just a single jerk, and that is when it becomes an issue that may need to be addressed."

Get A Professional Assessment

"Sleep starts or sleep tremors are very common," says Dr. Jain, "but if they are more than small starts and are problematic, they could have an underlying cause, such as epilepsy, which needs to be ruled out by a physician." Dr. Jain advises patients to seek a professional assessment "to ensure the source is benign."

Use A Doctor-Prescribed Medication

"We typically treat this with something like a mild benzodiazepine, like Valium or clonazepam," Dr. Jain adds. "Of course, that would have to be determined by your physician."

Restrict Caffeine Intake

"Caffeine has been associated with an increase in sleep tremors or sleep starts," says Dr. Jain, "so limiting your intake of caffeine can be beneficial. This is especially true later in the day."

Avoid Excessive, Intensive Physical Activity

According to Dr. Jain, "Excessive, intensive physical activity has also been associated with sleep tremors or sleep starts, so reducing the intensity of your physical activity or making sure you exercise earlier in the day may help reduce the intensity of the tremors or starts."

Attempt To Reduce Stress

"Stress can also play a role in making you have more sleep tremors or sleep starts," says Dr. Jain. He advises patients to take steps to reduce the amount of stress in their lives. If none of this works for you, however, Dr. Jain says that appropriate treatment would be "a low-dose benzodiazepine for a period of time."

Subin Jain, M.D. is a specialist in pulmonary medicine, sleep medicine, internal medicine, and critical care medicine and a physician at the Sleep Disorders Center at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as with Louisville Pulmonary Care. A graduate of Maulana Azad Medical College at the University of Delhi, Dr. Jain completed residency and fellowships at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the University of Connecticut and Baylor College of Medicine. He is also board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, critical care medicine and sleep medicine.

Have you ever suffered from sleep tremors? What worked for you?