Understanding Twitching while sleeping
Twitching while sleeping is a symptom and not a diagnosis of a disease and it is medically referred to as Sleep Myoclonus. This is the involuntary, sudden, twitching or jerking up in muscle or several muscles. Sometimes this twitching can occur in sequence or alone, with a pattern or without a pattern. This twitching may occur several times each minute or it may occur infrequently. This twitching, however, cannot be controlled by the person that is experiencing it.
The symptom of twitching while sleeping typically occurs during the first phase of sleep. It especially occurs during the moments of drifting off to sleep. Some forms of this type of myoclonus seem to be sensitive to stimulus. Some people that have twitching while sleeping rarely need treatment or are troubled by this condition. But, sleep myoclonus can be a symptom of a more disturbing and complex sleep disorder like restless leg syndrome, and if that’s the case it might just require a doctor’s treatment.
The causes of twitching while sleeping may develop as a response to a disorder but the truth is that the specific mechanics of the underlying issue is not fully understood. Some scientists believe that twitching while sleeping may because by over excitability in the portion of the brain that controls that movement. Some studies have suggested that an imbalance in brain chemicals may be an underlying cause for twitching while sleeping.
Some research has speculated that deficiencies or abnormalities in the receptors of some neuro transmitters may be responsible for some types of myoclonus. However, more research is needed in order to be able to determine how it is that these abnormalities can contribute or cause twitching while sleeping.
Treatment for Twitching While Sleeping
In the majority of cases there is no treatment that is indicated for twitching while sleeping. However, if treatment is necessary, then there are medications that can help reduce the symptoms. The drug of choice to treat myoclonus is a tranquilizer called clonazepam. When this drug is prescribed it is usually increased gradually until the person improves or its side effects become harmful. Loss of coordination and drowsiness are very common side effects for this drug. Also, the beneficial effects of clonazepam can diminish with time because the individual can develop a tolerance for this drug.
Other drugs that can be used to treat twitching while sleeping include primidone and barbiturates. Primidone is an effective antiepileptic drug, however it can have harmful long-term effects and can even cause liver failure. Barbiturates help to slow down the nervous system and causes antiseizure and tranquilizing effects. An alternative therapy for this condition is sodium valproate taken alone or in combination with clonazepam. These medications are effective for most people that suffer from this condition. However, some people do have an adverse reaction to these drugs.
Because of the complex origins of twitching while sleeping condition or sleep myoclonus. It may require the use of multiple drugs in order to find an effective treatment. Some drugs have been found to have a limited effect when used on a person, however they seem to have a greater effect when used with other drugs that act on the different mechanisms or pathways in the brain. Doctors and scientists hope that by combining several these drugs, they may be able to achieve greater control of twitching while sleeping symptoms.