What Is Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)?

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What Is Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)?

Find out what periodic limb movement disorder is and how it can affect your sleep.

Once referred to as sleep myoclonus, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is a condition that causes sporadic limb movements while a person is asleep. This most often occurs in the lower extremities during light sleep, and these unconscious limb movements can occur for up to 90 seconds at a time. If our Columbia, SC, sleep doctor Dr. Richard Bogan and Dr. Laura Herpel have diagnosed you with restless leg symptom (RLS) or narcolepsy, you may be at an increased risk for developing periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS).

What are the signs and symptoms of PLMS?

Patients with PLMS experience twitching and jerking movements within the extremities but never realize this is happening; therefore, it can be difficult for someone to know whether or not they have PLMS. Many times it is a partner that alerts them to the fact that they twitch and move around in their sleep. Of course, as you might imagine, someone who experiences uncontrollable limb movements throughout the night will often wake up exhausted and irritable.

You may also wake up multiple times throughout the night, experience extreme exhaustion and fatigue throughout the day, and also be prone to mood swings. Your performance at work or school may also suffer.

What causes PLMS?

While experts still don’t know what causes PLMS there are certain factors that could increase your chances of developing this sleep disorder. These factors include,

  • Caffeine
  • Certain medications (e.g. antidepressants; lithium)
  • Other sleep disorders
  • Anemia caused by an iron deficiency
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. ADHD)
  • Metabolic disorders (e.g. diabetes)

Older adults over the age of 65 are also more likely to develop PLMS.

How is PLMS diagnosed?

Our Columbia, SC, sleep physician can diagnose PLMS with a sleep study, also referred to as a polysomnography test. This study is performed while you are asleep. You will come into our office where we will test everything from oxygen levels and heart rate to blood pressure and muscle function through sensors that we will place throughout the body while you sleep.

I have PLMS. What are my treatment options?

If PLMS is caused by another condition such as anemia or diabetes then your doctor will need to treat the underlying cause in order to improve your sleep disorder. Other ways to treat PLMS include,

  • Stress management
  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Taking medications prescribed by your sleep physician (e.g. dopamine agonists; benzodiazepines)

If you find yourself waking up tired and unrefreshed most mornings, or if you experience frequent bouts of insomnia or restlessness, it’s important not to ignore these symptoms. Call Bogan Sleep Consultants in Columbia, SC, today to schedule a sleep study.

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