Nocturnal leg cramps, also known as night leg cramps, are spasms that occur in the lower extremities, particularly the legs, during nighttime. These cramps are painful, involuntary and usually short-lived. They are characterized by tight and persistent muscle contraction commonly in the calves. Sometimes it also involves the feet and… Read More »Nocturnal Leg Cramps
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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.
- Nocturnal Leg Cramps
- Sleep Starts – Hypnic Jerks
- Myoclonus – Periodic Limb Movements
- Rhythmic Movement Disorder (RMD)
- Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
- Sleep Bruxism
- Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
What are the most common sleep-related movement disorders?
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.
A hypnagogic jerk/myoclonic jerk, or most commonly known as hypnic jerk, is an involuntary twitch of a muscle. This happens just when a person is transitioning from wakeful state to a sleeping state. To put simply a hypnic jerk is when you suddenly feel like you’re falling off a building… Read More »Sleep Starts – Hypnic Jerks
Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD or PLMS), formerly known as myoclonus, is a condition where a person suffers repetitive limb movements while sleeping. There is a sudden and uncontrollable twitching of a muscle or a group of muscles that occurs about every 20-50 seconds. These movements also operate at a… Read More »Myoclonus – Periodic Limb Movements
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)
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) is a sleep disorder characterized by the involuntary movement of the limbs while sleeping. It is previously known as nocturnal myoclonus. PLMD is different from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). RLS occurs when a person is awake or trying to sleep while PLMD happens when a… Read More »Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
Sleep Bruxism is a sleep-related movement disorder. It is a disorder where the patient grinds or clench his or her teeth. Although this is more pronounced when a person is sleeping, a person who suffers from Bruxism may unconsciously clench or grind his or her teeth while awake. This is… Read More »Sleep Bruxism
Restless Legs Syndrome is a type of sleep-related movement disorder. It is also called Willis-Ekbom Disease. The symptoms of this disorder often present itself in the early hours of the evening or even as early as during the late afternoon. These symptoms are often at its most severe during the… Read More »Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)