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Sleep-related Movement Disorders

Sleep-related movement disorders refer to the unnatural movements that our bodies make while we sleep or while we try to fall asleep. They can range from the bothersome to those that can result in permanent bodily harm.

What are the most common sleep-related movement disorders?

Sleep Bruxism

This disorder is also known as nocturnal teeth grinding. Sleep bruxism is the medical term for the grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep. An estimated 8% of adults grind their teeth while they sleep. Occasional incidents of Sleep Bruxism may not be harmful. However, when teeth grinding occurs regularly it can result in moderate to severe dental damage. It can also cause facial pain and restless sleep.

Periodic Limb Movements

These are repetitive movements that happen while someone is asleep. These movements are usually concentrated in the lower limbs and occur about every 20-40 seconds. The movements are often brief muscle twitches. They can also manifest as jerking movements or an involuntary flexing of the feet. Instances of Periodic Limb Movements can last from as short as a few minutes to as long as several hours.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS is a disorder that results in the uncontrollable urge to move one’s leg. In rare cases, RLS can also affect other limbs or parts of the body. When someone suffers from RLS, they feel an uncomfortable sensation or a crawling feeling in their legs while trying to fall asleep. Some also experience unexplained pain.

Although they look the same, RLS is not the same as Periodic Limb Movements or PLM. RLS is an uncontrollable urge while PLM is an involuntary action. Another difference is RLS occurs when someone is trying to sleep while PLM happens during sleep.

What causes sleep-related movement disorders?

It is difficult to determine what causes these disorders. Most of the time a thorough investigation of a patient’s medical history is needed to determine the root cause of the disorder. The cause may be related to a patient’s disease history. Chronic medication or substance abuse can also cause these disorders.

It is important to seek immediate medical attention when someone suffers from these disorders. These disorders can be symptoms of a more serious health condition like kidney disease or Parkinson’s disease.

Additional Resources:

Rhythmic Movement Disorder (RMD)

Rhythmic Movement Disorder (RMD) is a sleep-related disorder characterized by the involuntary and repetitive movements of large muscle groups during sleep. These movements often involve the head and neck. It was first independently described by Zappert in 1905 as jactatio capitis nocturna and by Cruchet as rhythmie du sommeil. Majority… Read More »Rhythmic Movement Disorder (RMD)