Get Some Sleep: Bang in your head waking you? It has a name
Many people have dealt with waking up with a sudden start, called a hypnic jerk. A similar condition adds loud noise to a wakeup.
August 16th, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Get Some Sleep: Bang in your head waking you? It has a name

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs regularly on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

Most of us have drifted off to sleep, only to awaken with a sudden start. This is a benign occurrence known as a hypnic jerk.

There is a similar condition in which people awaken suddenly because they hear a loud noise in their head. They usually describe it as a loud bang or an explosion. In fact, this phenomenon is called exploding head syndrome.

Like hypnic jerks (or sleep starts), this is a completely benign condition. A hypnic jerk can accompany the clash of cymbals that people hear. Even though benign, it can be very disturbing to experience, and people often think that they are having a stroke.

It is certainly wise to seek medical attention the first time this occurs, especially if it is associated with a headache, because headaches are not a common feature of this disorder. In fact, to make the diagnosis, there should not be a significant pain component. Patients do sometimes report a flash of light occurring simultaneously with the loud bang.

If the headache is severe and persists, then indeed hemorrhagic stroke is a possibility and emergency services should be sought.

When patients bring this to a doctor’s attention, it is usually because it occurs frequently. Patients become concerned that even if the bomb in their head was not a stroke in the past, perhaps it is a symptom foretelling a stroke. There is no evidence that this is the case, even when the awakenings happen frequently.

It could be a sleep-related migraine (even without pain), and simple partial seizures can present with sensory symptoms. However, the symptom would usually not occur only at sleep onset or when awakening, as is the case with exploding head syndrome.

This can present at any age but is most common in people older than 50. Women report it more than men, but as is often the case, it may be that they are more likely than men to seek medical attention.

If many episodes occur in a night or if they are clustered in a time period of days or weeks, then patients can have disrupted sleep and insomnia. Usually, exploding head syndrome has a spontaneous remission. I know of no cases in the literature where this continued relentlessly, although there are reports of cyclical reoccurrence.

As with many medical problems, people report a worsening of attacks when they have an increase in stress or a decrease in sleep. There is a report that a medication used for seizures and migraines, topiramate, was useful in controlling this unpleasant symptom. Again, the first time this happens, it is important to receive a thorough medical evaluation just to be sure that other disorders are ruled out.

The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here. Please consult a physician or medical professional for personal medical advice or treatment.

Follow CNNHealth on Twitter

Post by:
Filed under: Sleep

soundoff (747 Responses)
  1. Leadership Podcasts

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this amazing site needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!


    June 25, 2021 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Exhaust Repair Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Repair Places Near Me

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely feel this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!


    June 25, 2021 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Repair Garden Grove

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this topic here on your web site.


    June 25, 2021 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Crave Freebies

    Excellent blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol


    June 25, 2021 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Tad Koza


    June 25, 2021 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Mobile Repair Service Near Me

    I blog frequently and I genuinely appreciate your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your blog and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.


    June 25, 2021 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    bookmarked!!, I like your web site!


    June 26, 2021 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Nita Kary


    June 26, 2021 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Repair Huntington Beach


    June 26, 2021 at 02:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Water Repair Man Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 04:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Awning Repair Near Me

    Good blog post. I definitely appreciate this site. Keep it up!


    June 26, 2021 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Window Repair Near Me

    You should take part in a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the internet. I'm going to highly recommend this blog!


    June 26, 2021 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Roof Repair Service Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service? Appreciate it!


    June 26, 2021 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Christian Leadership University


    June 26, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Examples Of Leadership

    I was more than happy to uncover this site. I want to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely liked every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new information on your website.


    June 26, 2021 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Best Leadership Quotes


    June 26, 2021 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. National Outdoor Leadership School

    Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the issues. It was really informative. Your site is very helpful. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 26, 2021 at 19:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. 3.5 Leadership


    June 26, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Leadership Style

    May I simply say what a comfort to discover someone that really understands what they're talking about on the net. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people really need to look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren't more popular since you certainly have the gift.


    June 27, 2021 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Leadership Skills Examples

    I need to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have got you bookmarked to look at new stuff you postÖ


    June 27, 2021 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. lore podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 00:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Management Leadership For Tomorrow


    June 27, 2021 at 01:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Women's Leadership Success Podcast

    I was able to find good info from your content.


    June 27, 2021 at 03:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. npr politics podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Leadership Approaches

    After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    June 27, 2021 at 03:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Leadership Strengths


    June 27, 2021 at 04:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. bang podcast

    I enjoy reading a post that will make men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!


    June 27, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. how to start a podcast for free

    You are so interesting! I don't believe I have read anything like this before. So great to discover somebody with original thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that's needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!


    June 27, 2021 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Characteristics Of Leadership


    June 27, 2021 at 06:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. pharmaceptica.com

    plaquenil sulfate https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Sprinter Van Repair Laguna Niguel


    June 27, 2021 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Garden Grove


    June 27, 2021 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    Having read this I believed it was really enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 27, 2021 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Van Rust Repair

    That is a great tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate informationÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 28, 2021 at 03:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Sprinter Door Repair Panel

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be helpful to read through content from other authors and use a little something from other sites.


    June 28, 2021 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Dodge Sprinter Repair Shops


    June 28, 2021 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Repair Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Hi, I believe your web site could possibly be having browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, wonderful site!


    June 28, 2021 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. www.pharmaceptica.com

    chroloquine https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 28, 2021 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Velva Lauffer

    The First Multispecialty Ambulatory Surgery Center in Davao City, Center for Ambulatory Surgery and Total Medical Care of Davao, Inc. | Farmacia ni Dok Bajada https://bit.ly/3zr2hdn


    June 28, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Many thanks, However I am going through troubles with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting similar RSS problems? Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    June 28, 2021 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be interesting to read articles from other authors and practice something from their web sites.


    June 28, 2021 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Repair Orange County California

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Cheers! Where are your contact details though?


    June 28, 2021 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Repair Near Me Now

    I love looking through an article that can make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!


    June 29, 2021 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 2009 Stuck Intake Dodge Sprinter Repair

    There's certainly a great deal to learn about this topic. I really like all the points you made.


    June 29, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    There is definately a great deal to know about this issue. I like all the points you have made.


    June 29, 2021 at 01:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Alethia

    Is anyone here in a position to recommend Rubber? Thanks xx


    June 29, 2021 at 03:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Van Conversion Shop


    June 29, 2021 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Leave a Reply to photo restoration orange county ca


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.