While most episodes occur when one is sleeping, nocturnal myoclonus syndrome, also known as periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) can suddenly enforce its impact even when the person is awake. To ward off the uncomfortable feeling of muscle contraction and twitching, one should move the body in a vigorous fashion.
It takes place in either middle-aged or older men/women in the parts that involve constant movement. These include the calves, thighs, or feet. The intensity of these jerks can escalate and then drop in severity over a series of nights, and one has really no control over it, leading to an extremely discomforting sensation.
It can awaken sleepers during the nighttime, and makes them feel tired and drained out the following morning. It can occur at least two times in a day. One in the night and the other during the day time or when you're awake just before you head to sleep. The effects of this syndrome can last for a few minutes to up to an hour in some cases, where patients who are severely affected often wake up feeling drowsy and tired.
There are several underlying causes, which can lead to this syndrome. A few have been mentioned below:
- Neuroleptic medication
- Sleep apnea
- Iron deficiency
- Sleep behavior disorder
- Spinal cord injury
- Barbiturate withdrawal
- Sleep-related eating disorder
- Dopaminergic medication
- Drug dependency
- Benzodiazepine withdrawal
- Neurological disorder
- Restless leg syndrome
- Not able to fall asleep easily, crawling sensation, itching, and waking up after falling asleep.
- Twitching of a certain limb when the person is either awake or fast asleep.
- Occasional jerking of the toes/feet while sleeping/lying down.
- Feeling of comfort upon moving the organ which is jerking.
- Twitching gets worse in the night or when the body is at rest.
- Feeling fatigued and worn out the next morning due to lack of sleep and constant muscle spasms.
There are certain medications available to help patients cope with the twitching and muscle jerks.
If one suffers from problems, like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, then these are treated first. A change in diet is brought about by eliminating caffeine drinks like tea/coffee and sugary edibles like chocolate. Exercise is also incorporated into one's lifestyle, as it significantly helps in changing sleep patterns. Anemic patients are given supplements of folic acid and iron.
Drugs like dopamine, used for treating Parkinson's disease, are given to patients to help with seizures. Other drugs given are narcotic pain killers, benzodiazepines, sleeping tablets, or anticonvulsant medications.
Another very similar condition that mimics the symptoms of nocturnal myoclonus is dystonia. You can read more about it to understand the similarities and differences between these two disorders. PLMD is a condition that can be controlled if not cured completely. People should go for an early examination before they hit the middle or older age mark. This condition is hereditary in some cases, so checking one's past health record would also help greatly. Have a safe tomorrow.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.