What is periodic limb movement in sleep (PLMS)?

Updated: Oct 09, 2018
  • Author: Sufen Chiu, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Periodic limb movement in sleep

Periodic limb movement in sleep (PLMS) is more prominent in NREM stage 1 and 2 sleep. PLMS is strongly associated with ADHD and restless legs syndrome (RLS) in the pediatric population. The response to dopaminergic agents and the association with ADHD suggest that PLMS may be related to dopaminergic dysfunction. Characteristic movements may aid in further understanding of the pathology of PLMS.

PLMS presents as repetitive flexion of lower extremities (more common) or upper extremities in youths; movements last for 0.5–5 seconds and occur 5–90 seconds apart. Repetitive jerks are associated with frequent awakenings and daytime somnolence or insomnia. The pediatric population with PLMS often experiences inattention, overactivity, and mood lability as a result of associated sleep disruption or fragmentation. PLMS can occur without RLS.

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