Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder is a type of disorder that occurs only during sleep. People that have this disorder flex their feet and kick their legs up during sleep. It may even occur several times during the night. Typically, the bed partner is the one that notices these leg movements. However, the person suffering from this condition may also awaken because of it. Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder is most common in the legs, but can also occur with the arms. Also, this disorder is found typically in older people.
Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder may worsen due to caffeine, alcohol, excessive cold or hot temperatures, certain medications, and sleep deprivation. Unlike the related condition Restless Leg Syndrome, that is diagnosed based on symptoms and history, Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder relies on sleep monitoring for diagnosis.
People that suffer with this disorder usually complain of insomnia or sleepiness and daytime fatigue. The incidence of this disorder is much higher in older people. The treatments that are available are limited at this time because there is limited understanding of this disorder. Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder affects a person’s quality of life by negatively impacting their family and social life, work performance, and daytime functioning.
Recent Research on Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder
In the last five years, research has found that this condition is more prevalent in children that have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Also, EEG patterns suggest that this disorder may be associated with an underlying arousal disorder.
Research studies have concluded that there needs to me more evaluation of spinal cords and brains from patients that suffer with Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder to identify possible abnormalities that underlie this disorder. Also needed is further characterization and identification of genes that are involved with this condition. In addition, it is important to determine the extent of daytime sleepiness and nocturnal sleep disturbance in adults and children that suffer with this disorder.
Scientists also encourage the study of the developmental changes that occur in adults to explain the higher incidence of Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder in the elderly. There is also a need to improve the treatment strategies that are available at this time for this disorder. Most frequently anticonvulsants, opioids, and dopamine agonists are frequently used to reduce the symptoms associated with Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder. However, long-term studies have not been conducted to make an assessment of the patient’s quality of life.
Treatments of Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder
The treatments that are today available to treat Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder are medications that include narcotics, benzodiazepines, anticonvulsant medication, and Parkinson’s disease drugs. The current first treatment recommendations are the anti-Parkinson’s medications. This type of medication very often eliminates or significantly reduces the symptoms of this disorder. However, it should be noted that at this time there is no cure for Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder, and the treatment that is provided is to relieve the symptoms.
Food and drinks that contain caffeine, such as soft drinks, tea, coffee, and chocolate should certainly be avoided. A person that suffers with Periodic Limb Sleep Disorder should avoid caffeine because it intensifies the symptoms of this disorder.