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. Internet Marketing Events


    May 9, 2021 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Social Media Marketing Agency Anaheim

    Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the issues. It was really informative. Your website is very helpful. Thank you for sharing!


    May 9, 2021 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Content Marketing Event


    May 10, 2021 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Social Media Marketing Market

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Kudos!


    May 10, 2021 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Digital Marketing Services


    May 10, 2021 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Social Media Marketing Consultant Irvine

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a top notch article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and never manage to get anything done.


    May 10, 2021 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Local Marketing Business

    I used to be able to find good information from your articles.


    May 10, 2021 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Digital Marketing Quote

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you ought to publish more on this subject, it might not be a taboo matter but generally people don't talk about such topics. To the next! Cheers!!


    May 10, 2021 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Internet Marketing Businesses


    May 10, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Digital Marketing Companies Near Me

    Excellent article. I definitely appreciate this website. Continue the good work!


    May 10, 2021 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Video Marketing Service

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and also the rest of the website is also really good.


    May 10, 2021 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Social Media Marketing Agency Around Me

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!


    May 11, 2021 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Digital Marketing Orange County


    May 11, 2021 at 03:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Content Marketing Programs

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the website is extremely good.


    May 11, 2021 at 04:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Social Media Marketing Specialist


    May 11, 2021 at 04:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Internet Marketing Near Me

    I like it when people get together and share thoughts. Great blog, continue the good work!


    May 11, 2021 at 05:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Social Media Marketing Specialist

    Can I simply say what a relief to uncover a person that really knows what they are talking about on the net. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people ought to look at this and understand this side of the story. I can't believe you're not more popular given that you certainly have the gift.


    May 11, 2021 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Content Marketing Boutique

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Spending some time and actual effort to make a top notch article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don't manage to get anything done.


    May 11, 2021 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Internet Marketing Firms

    When I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be a means you are able to remove me from that service? Cheers!


    May 11, 2021 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Plumbing Los Angeles

    This is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!


    May 11, 2021 at 23:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Sprinter Calliper Repair


    May 11, 2021 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Bay Doors Riverside

    Good article. I will be experiencing some of these issues as well..


    May 12, 2021 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. nearest rv store


    May 12, 2021 at 01:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. photo restoration orange county ca


    May 12, 2021 at 03:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rv parts in san diego

    Wonderful article! We will be linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.


    May 12, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. truck shop orange county california


    May 12, 2021 at 06:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Sprinter Rust Repair Panels

    I'm very pleased to uncover this web site. I want to to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new information in your website.


    May 12, 2021 at 06:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. temecula collision center


    May 12, 2021 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Collision Repair Los Angeles


    May 12, 2021 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. camper mechanics near me

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 12, 2021 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Interior Remodeling Los Angeles

    Good blog you've got here.. It’s hard to find high quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 12, 2021 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. car headliner repair near me


    May 12, 2021 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. rv air conditioner service near me

    That is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    May 12, 2021 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. rv service and repair near me

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may return yet again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    May 12, 2021 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. shower parts near me


    May 12, 2021 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. the truck shop orange


    May 12, 2021 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. rv for sale in orange county

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes which will make the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!


    May 12, 2021 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Concrete Lincoln NE

    What's up friends, fastidious article and pleasant arguments commented at this place, I am really enjoying by

    Here is my site ... Concrete Lincoln NE

    May 13, 2021 at 03:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sprinter Seat Belt Buckle Repair

    Very good post. I am going through some of these issues as well..


    May 13, 2021 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. nearby rv repair

    Everything is very open with a precise description of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is very helpful. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 13, 2021 at 05:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Headlights California

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the net. I am going to recommend this site!


    May 13, 2021 at 07:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. tires orange county


    May 13, 2021 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. california camper repair

    Excellent blog post. I certainly appreciate this site. Stick with it!


    May 13, 2021 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Dodge Van Repair


    May 13, 2021 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Lighting Riverside

    May I just say what a comfort to find somebody who really understands what they're discussing on the internet. You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people have to read this and understand this side of the story. It's surprising you're not more popular because you certainly possess the gift.


    May 13, 2021 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Viral

    Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert
    that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Anyweay I'll be subscribing to yolur feeds and even I achievement
    you access consistently fast.

    May 13, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV AC Los Angeles

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thank you!


    May 13, 2021 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. stornobrzinol

    Simply wish to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your publish is just cool and i can think you are knowledgeable on this subject. Fine together with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep updated with impending post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.


    May 13, 2021 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. horse trailer paint jobs

    Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back once again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.


    May 13, 2021 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. awning repair near me

    Your style is unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this blog.


    May 13, 2021 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Leave a Reply to Internet Marketing Near Me


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.