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 Sleep  Holistic-online.com

Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep (PLMS)

Periodic limb movements in sleep (also known as periodic limb movements, PLM, periodic limb movement disorder) are repetitive movements, typically in the lower limbs, that occur about every 20-40 seconds. The episodes last from a few minutes to several hours during sleep that involve the legs or arms twitching, jerking, or even kicking repeatedly. Periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS) are not the same as the occasional body jerks, called hypnic jerks, that some people experience at the onset of sleep.

The interruptions in sleep caused by periodic limb movements can leave the person feeling exhausted and sleepy during the day. Thirty five percent or more of people aged 65 and older experience periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS). It also occurs in younger people, though less commonly. Men and women are equally affected.

Causes of Periodic Limb Movements In Sleep (PLMS)

The exact cause of periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS) is not known. Scientists believe that the underlying mechanisms probably involve factors in the nervous system.

Treatment of Periodic Limb Movements In Sleep (PLMS)

Conventional Treatment

Muscle-relaxing medications are the most effective treatment for PLMS. These medications suppress the PLMS or help the person sleep through them. But the medications don't cure periodic limb movements and can become addicting. Unfortunately, no satisfactory nondrug treatment for periodic limb movements currently exists.

Treatment is only necessary when periodic limb movements are accompanied by restless legs (RLS), insomnia or daytime fatigue.

Alternative and Complementary Therapies

bulletWarm baths before bedtime are helpful in alleviating periodic limb movements symptoms.
bulletWeight reduction (if necessary) and regular exercise are recommended.
bulletAvoid alcohol
bulletAlleviate any stress-related situations.
bulletAvoid caffeine in all forms.
bulletEliminate any food that you may be allergic or sensitive to.
bulletTake a supplement of blue or green algae (as a substitute for L-tryptophan)
bulletMassage especially for those people whose symptoms can be resolved by massage or movement of the limbs.
bulletTwo to three grams of folic acid daily, to be taken under strict supervision to avoid toxicity.


Periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS) are treated with Rhus tox. (for rheumatism-related conditions) or Causticum (for nervous system-related conditions). Pelvic or prostate problems should also be treated.

Related: Restless Legs Syndrome

Alternative and Complementary Therapies for Insomnia

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