Sleep Med Psychophysiol.  2008 Jun;15(1):17-24.

Overview of Periodic Limb Movements During Sleep

  • 1Yong-In Mental Hospital, Yongin, Korea.


Periodic leg movements during sleep (PLMS) are best described as repetitive stereotypical movements of the lower extremities characterized by dorsiflexion of the ankle, dorsiflexion of the toes and a partial flexion of the knee and sometimes the hip. The prevalence of PLMS is about 5-11% in adults and is predicted much higher than previously surveyed. They are also frequently found in various sleep disorders, several disorders not primarily affecting sleep, and patients taking psychiatric medications. Although they are rarely found in children, they are common findings in children referred to a pediatric sleep laboratory. The pathophysiology is strongly associated with decline of central dopaminergic function and closely related to arousal system during sleep. Benzodiazepines, levodopa, dopamine agonists and opioids are generally recommended for treatment but more controlled studies on the effectiveness are needed.


Periodic limb movements during sleep
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