Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

This condition differs from Restless Leg Syndrome in that leg movement occurs only after sleep onset. The person is often unaware of frequent leg movements unless a bed partner complains of kicking, jerking or motion. Leg movements are much more common than arm movements. This is not the occasional jerk of muscles that occurs near sleep onset that jolts us out of our "almost asleep" state. These are repetitive movements that are most common in the first half of the night. The movements cause disruption of the sleep pattern, resulting in daytime sleepiness.

These abnormal movements are caused by an imbalance of transmitters in the brain.

The greatest health risk from periodic limb movements is related to accidents from excessive daytime sleepiness. Accidents or unintentional harm to bed partners are also a health risk.

Medical treatment is available and can improve the quality of sleep and daytime sleepiness. The quality of the bed partner's sleep can also be improved! Evaluation by a sleep specialist is advised if you suspect that you have this condition.