Parosomnia (PLM & RLS)

Parosomnia (PLM & RLS)

Sleep talking and other parasomnias, or disorders that disrupt sleep, such as periodic limb movement (PLM) and restless leg syndrome (RLS), are pretty common. PLM is defined as periodic movements or jerking of one’s legs or arms for at least two seconds and can occur anywhere from five times per hour to every 20 to 40 seconds. RLS describes an irrepressible compulsion to move one’s legs as a reflex to an uncontrollable and disagreeable sensation. While common, the exact causes of these sleep interruptions are unknown. Luckily, health care providers treat sleep talking, restless leg syndrome, and other movements people make during sleep.

For sleep talkers, underlying psychological and physical factors, such as stress, lack of sleep, not eating enough, or heavy meals just before bedtime, may be the cause.

To manage leg kicking and jerking of one’s body suddenly during sleep, see a health care provider, who will most likely ask for a medical history. Lab tests may be ordered to check for vitamin or mineral deficiencies that could trigger sudden movements during sleep. Finally, to complete this comprehensive assessment, the medical provider may suggest that you spend a night in a sleep lab, so that staff can chart and analyze body movements, air intake, brain and heart activity, and other bodily functions through a polysomnography.

This tool tracks many physiological activities simultaneously. Using this information, the provider can determine if there are any other reasons that may be contributing to the PLM and/or RLS. Examples of such disorders include sleep apnea, anemia, narcolepsy, and mineral deficiencies, such as potassium.

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