A person with Periodic Limb Movement during Sleep (PLMS) experiences repetitive movements, usually in the legs, about every 10 to 90 seconds. The episodes last for a few seconds each and may continue for hours. Regardless of whether you're awake during the episodes, your sleep surely is being disrupted.

Who Gets PLMS?

Both men and women suffer from the condition. Although it happens most often in those 65 and older, it can affect anyone at any age—even children.

What Kind of Movements Does PLMS Cause?

Commonly, an episode begins with the big toe extending outward and/or the feet flexing up and progresses to the ankle, knee, or even hip bending. PLMS also may also cause burning pain and discomfort in the legs. Less commonly, movement occurs in the arms.

Is PLMS Serious?

Generally, no. The biggest problem with PLMS is the interrupted sleep of both the sufferer and her bed partner, which can lead to health issues later on. Once in awhile the condition is linked to serious underlying illness such as diabetes or kidney disease.

What Causes PLMS?

No one is sure, although one theory is that the central nervous system is somehow involved. Doctors know that iron deficiency and anemia may play a role. Heredity may also be a factor.

How Is PLMS Diagnosed?

The first step is to see a doctor who will ask detailed questions about your sleep. For this visit, your bed partner should tag along, as he or she can provide valuable information about your sleep habits. Following that, a sleep study can be valuable in making a diagnosis. Study participants spend one night being monitored by trained sleep technicians who can observe the sleeper and rule out other possible problems such as sleep apnea.

Is PLMS Treatable?

Yes, although generally the condition is treated only if it's very severe and causes significant daytime sleepiness. Tremor- or seizure-controlling medications may be prescribed. People with mild or moderate PLMS have found relief through yoga, hot baths and leg massage before bed, and meditation.




American Sleep Association. "Periodic Leg Movements During Sleep—PLMS." Web. http://www.sleepassociation.org/index.php?p+aboutplms

National Sleep Foundation. "Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep." Web. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/periodic-limb-movements-sleep