Sleep Disorders and Leg Movement
Fifteen years ago, I fractured my ankle. It required surgery, the insertion of one metal plate and four pins. My leg was put into a throw and I was told to keep the leg suspended for at the least 2 months. Despite a medical facility noise and light, I was able to sleep.
But what I will always remember is that my dreams were full of running episodes and disordered leg movements —me running up and down hills, even falling on the uneven grassy surface. I possibly could feel my foot jamming into a hole and the movement of the fall would wake me up. Then I would lie during sex feeling silly as the cast was so stiff that I possibly could not really wriggle my toes.
I have since unearthed that leg movements in sleep are common experiences. They’re normal spasms that occur right before we fall asleep. However, you will find other disruptive leg movements which are symptoms of sleep disorder syndromes. People with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, for instance, are wakened by involuntary rhythmic movements of the limbs during sleep.
Sometimes these take the shape of twitching in toes and ankles; other times, they involve more flailing and exaggerated movements of the arms and legs. But the movements come in clusters, some lasting a couple of minutes, others significantly more than an hour. In effect, the movements are jerky and persistent enough to disrupt sleep and cause sleep deprivation.
About 80% of men and women with periodic leg movement sleep disorder also experience the Restless Leg Syndrome, a condition that affects about 10% of the adult population in North America and Europe. Unlike the periodic limb movement disorder, restless legs are frequently experienced as “insects crawling in the legs,” a sensation which leads to an urge to stand up and move around.
You can be during sex, wanting to sleep, however your limbs become prickly or tingly and this sensation can only be relieved by physically getting up and moving around. Obviously, sleeping if you have this syndrome is close to impossible.
Because our knowledge of the disorders is limited (the exact causes of these conditions remain unknown), treatment is frequently limited as well. Research, however is ongoing and much progress has been made within the last 5 years to define the nature and manifestations of the disorders. Here, for instance, are some new expressions of the disorders uncovered by research.
- Both restless leg syndrome and periodic leg movements are common in children with hyperactivity attention deficit disorder.
- Both conditions appear to be more prevalent in the older adult female population.
- Neurophysiological studies also indicate that restless leg syndrome is connected to irregularities in the spinal cord and brain.
- Other studies demonstrate a correlation between the disorders and reduced iron concentrations in a few brain regions.
- Periodic Leg Movement Sleep Disorder is apparently connected to predisposing factors such as for example diabetes, use of anti-depressants, kidney disease, metabolic disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and circulatory problems.
- A lot of attention is also centered on the genetic element of both disorders. In line with the National Sleep Foundation, restless leg syndrome occurs 3 to 5 times more frequently in first degree relatives of men and women with the same syndrome than in people minus the syndrome. This finding definitely suggests a powerful hereditary element of the sleep disorder.
Should you choose experience these leg movement symptoms that chronically deprive you of sleep, so what can you do?
1. Some people experience mild cases of the disorders and seem to have the ability to function very well without medical supervision. Consult your physician about your situation if it regularly deprives you of sleep and is causing inattentive or careless daytime responses that require medical attention. Your physician may have the ability to prescribe medication that may allow you to with the problems. A study sponsored by Eli Lilly suggests that the drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease, may succeed in treating restless leg syndrome and periodic leg movement disorder.
2. Use of electric nerve stimulation therapy placed on an area in the feet or legs is apparently helpful as well. This therapy is generally done 15-30 minutes before bedtime.
3. Make use of home treatments for relaxation—such as for example meditation, yoga or massage.
4. Avoid using alcohol, caffeine or anti-depressants as these may trigger episodes of leg movements.
5. Seek information and resources at your local Sleep Center here: http://www.sleepcenters.org/