Why do you feel electrocuted after waking up? (+5 headings)

In this article, we will discuss different factors which may cause a feeling of being electrocuted after waking up. We will also discuss neurological disorders and other disease that might intensify these feelings.

Why do you feel electrocuted after waking up?

Getting a feeling of being electrocuted after waking up may be caused by various neurological disorders like peripheral neuropathy and fibromyalgia. It may also be caused by anxiety and hormonal imbalance, especially in women.

This feeling may also be triggered by your bedroom environment (like extreme temperature fluctuations), bedsheets and low humidity levels. Disturbances in the sleep cycle and nightmares often cause a sense of being electrocuted after waking up.

This feeling is also common in patients with nutritional deficiency of vitamin B12. These feelings are only brief and go away on their own. If the feeling of being electrocuted is persistent then it may be an indication of nerve damage.

What factors cause an electrocuted feeling after waking up?

Many factors may give you a feeling of being electrocuted after waking up. The common factors include sleeping environment and sleeping pattern.

Sleeping environment

Sleeping behaviour and environment can affect the quality of sleep. Silk and other bedsheets often develop a static charge while tossing on the bed, especially at low humidity levels. When the sheet comes in contact with the body it gives a sensation of electric shock.

Extreme temperature fluctuation in the room may cause a change in the body’s core temperature. The impact of temperature sensitivity may affect the autonomic and motor functions. This may cause an electric shock feeling when you wake up (1).

Sleeping pattern

The sleeping pattern, sleeping position and other related sleeping disorders may give an electric shock feeling after waking up. Certain sleeping positions may put undue stress on the nerves. This triggers a series of electric stabs that give a feeling of being electrocuted.

A decrease in oxygen level during sleep apnea may cause a sudden jolt. Bad dreams and hallucinations often cause swaeting, palpitations, and a feeling of being electrocuted after waking up. They can also cause sleep paralysis.

What disease causes an electrocuted feeling after waking up?

Various diseases may cause a feeling of being electrocuted after waking up. However, there may be more than one symptom that signifies a particular disease. The proper diagnosis can only be done by a healthcare professional.

Neurological disorders

Some neurological disorders may cause an electrocuted feeling after waking up, including:

  • Trigeminal neuralgia: It is a nerve disorder of the trigeminal nerve and gives an intense shock-like feeling in different parts of the body after waking up, especially on one side of the face (2).
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Sensory nerve damage outside the brain and spinal cord often causes stabbing and burning pain accompanied by an electric shock feeling.
  • Dysesthesia: It is characterized by pain triggered by the central nervous system. It often occurs due to multiple sclerosis (3).
  • Fibromyalgia: It is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system in which the patient feels pain, electric shock sensation, and extreme fatigue.

Other diseases

  • Restless legs syndrome: It is an irresistible urge to move legs while sleeping and is often accompanied by electricity-like feelings in the leg.
  • Anxiety: When the body becomes overstressed, the brain may send involuntary and erratic nerve impulses to the nervous system.

This is known as zapped anxiety and the patient often feels as if he has been electrocuted after waking up. It is often accompanied by tremors, vibrations, body shaking, and jolts.

  • Nutritional deficiency: A deficiency of vitamin B12 may cause nerve damage and electric shock wave feelings. Vitamin B12 is also involved in red blood cell production and peripheral neuropathy.
  • Drug withdrawal symptoms: Antidepressants like Pristique may cause brain zaps when discontinued. This gives a feeling of being electrocuted.
  • Arachnoiditis: It is characterized by persistent inflammation of the arachnoid mater and subarachnoid space.

It commonly affects the lumbar spine nerves. Acrachoniditis may cause mild to severe pain, cramps, numbness, tingling sensation, headache, and the sensation of getting electrocuted (4).

  • Lhermitte: Lhermitte is a sudden sensation of being electrocuted and is triggered while bending the neck towards the chest.

The electric shock sensation radiates from the neck into the spine. It then passes into the arms and legs. It is most common in patients with multiple sclerosis.

What is the science behind electric shocks upon waking up?

Peripheral nerve damage causes a sequential series of alterations in microglia within the spinal cord. This causes proliferation and morphological enlargement of the cell body. These neuropathic changes also trigger membrane remodelling of sodium channels.

These sodium channels are important determinants of electrical excitability at the sensory neurons. They also play an important role in pain experience, allodynia, shock-like sensation and afferent impulse firing whilst triggering central sensitization (5). 

Hormonal imbalance may also cause electrocuted feelings during puberty, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menopause, and post-menopause. This occurs due to fluctuation in the estrogen level and is a common feeling in women during menopause. 

These feelings may also represent nerve healing and regeneration. As your nerve heals, the affected area may feel uncomfortable and tingling. The position of these sensations may shift as the nerve repairs and grows. However, such feelings fade away with time.

How to manage the feeling of being electrocuted after waking up?

Although there is no treatment for the electrocuted feeling after waking up, the underlying cause can be corrected or treated after consultation with the doctor. If you think that the electrocuted feeling is due to the bedsheet, try using cotton bedsheets.

They can build up the least static charge. Use a humidifier in the room to reduce the buildup of static charge on the sheet, especially in winter. In case of neurological or other disorders, the doctor may prescribe one of the following medications:

  • Vitamin B12: Supplements of vitamin B12 can be taken to reduce the occurrence of nerve damage. Fish, dairy products, and ham are also good sources of Vitamin B12.
  • Antiseizure drugs: First-generation antiseizure and antiepileptic medications are prescribed for dysesthesia and nerve pain. Examples include pregabalin and gabapentin.
  • Antidepressants: Some antidepressants can be used to simultaneously treat anxiety and neuropathic pain. Examples include amitriptyline and desipramine.
  • Analgesics: Pain relief medication can be prescribed for neuropathic pain. Examples include topical lidocaine, bupivacaine, mepivacaine, and capsaicin.

In the premenopausal phase, I often got the feeling of electric shock after waking up. Improving your diet, exercising and taking vitamin B12 supplements can strengthen your nerves. Always consult your doctor before starting a new therapy.

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