Sleep Myoclonus

What Is Sleep Myoclonus?

Myoclonus is a brief twitching of the muscles that occurs when you’re asleep, and can occur separately or in groups, as well as in a sequence or at random. Myoclonus may be a sign of other nervous system disorders including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Myoclonus is manifest by sudden jerks or contractions of the muscles, and also of the muscles uncontracting or relaxing after contraction.

What is sleep myoclonus

Sleep Disorders Related To Sleep Myoclonus

Sleep myoclonus is a form of myoclonus which occurs during sleep, usually in the stage just before deep sleep. Also known as a hypnic jerk or hypnagogic jerk, Sleep myoclonus will rarely disturb the subject or bed partner to the point of waking and disrupting sleep, but may indicate the presence of sleep related findings or disorders such as restless legs syndrome and Periodic Leg Movement during Sleep (PLMS).

What Are The Common Syptoms & Impacts

A common form of myoclonus during wake is hiccups, which are quick contractions affecting the diaphragm. Myoclonus, especially sleep myoclonus in particular, are not harmful or life threatening, though some of the more complex forms of myoclonus may indicate the presence of other potential nervous system issues.

Sleep myoclonus primarily affects the fingers, toes, lips and eyes, and is often barely perceptible to anyone watching the person in their sleep. Sleep myoclonus has been shown to have some connection to stimulus- sensitive myoclonus, whereby contractions may be caused or increased by environmental factors such as light, sound or movement.

Why Am I Twitching While I Am Sleeping?

Myoclonus has been connected to several areas of the brain, and in many cases stimulus-sensitive myoclonus has been shown to be an overreaction of the brain in areas that control movement in response to startling events. Myoclonus is actually fairly common in individuals.

Treatment For Sleep Myoclonus

Myoclonus on its own does not necessarily require any treatment, but if someone with myoclonus is exhibiting unaccountable symptoms of insomnia, it may be necessary to look into it further. The first step should be to rule out any other sleeping disorders that could be causing the problem by taking an overnight sleep study. The polysomnogram will not only detect any other possible sleeping disorders, but may also indicate whether the myoclonus itself is causing restless sleep.

Treatment for myoclonus is centered on medications which relax the muscles and inhibit contraction. Clonazepam is a commonly issued drug for sleep myoclonus, and when taken near bedtime has the added benefit of causing drowsiness. For this reason it should only be taken before bed, and not as a cure for myoclonus during waking hours. The body may also develop a tolerance for the drug and lessen its usefulness, so the more sparingly it is used, the greater the length of time it will remain useful. Sodium valproate can be used separately or in conjunction with clonazepam to treat myoclonus as well.

Other treatments may also improve other nervous system disorders that may be present during sleep in addition to myoclonus. These include barbiturates, phenytoin and primidone.

 

Reviewed September, 2007

Share This:

21 thoughts on “Sleep Myoclonus

  1. I want to know if sleeping myoclonus is a form of epilepsy. I was diagnosed with sleeping myoclonus before I was diagnosed as an epileptic more than 30 years ago. The type of epilepsy I have is complex partial seizures / focal seizures.

  2. I believe I may have this as well. I am having a sleep study done in 2 weeks for night seizures. I have these seizures every other night and they wake me up with severe pain in my back. My muscle relaxers don’t seem to be helping me much anymore. I also have complex partial as far as the Dr knows anyway. My neck, lower back and arm are the parts affected in my sleep.

  3. I have noticed that I have this as well…. my fingers, legs, arms, shoulders, etc, twitch, shake, and I have even swung outward with my arms. I notice this when trying to fall asleep. My husband noticed that while I was sleeping, my whole body goes through it on and off throughout the night. I don’t know what to do and I don’t know how long I have been suffering from this.

    1. We are same symtoms. Me also when i traying to go bed in falling sleep the syntoms are attack me. So that i cant sleep properly sometimes im waking all the night. Is terrible for this kind of disseas.

    2. I have a little girl with autism and she does the same right before sleeping..lots of hand/finger movement plus one arm and shoulder moving outwards, legs too restless. I think she gets night terrors too. It has been happening for a while now..didnt know until I read this post that other people are experiencing the same

      1. This is exactly what is happening with my daughter at night. It seems to be mild when just falling to sleep, and much more prominent in the hour or two before she gets up for good. We also have nights where she sits up in bed, and lays back down again, and again. One night she kept waking me due to a jerking motion, and me needing to pull her away from the edge of the bed. She has lots of unusual thigns going on. She also has autism. I am seeking referral to a neurologists to find out if this is something to be concerned about, or if it is myoclonus. Like you said, her hands, feet, and shoulder are involved. Once I noticed twitching of her eyes, and lip smacking briefly during this active movement. I’m curious if your daughter ever has laughing episodes in her sleep. My daughter used to do that before I noticed all of this going on.

  4. my gf says my arm will twitch a few min later my leg will twitch and then my whole body will twitch repeadly everynight for a hour and a half before she falls asleep

    1. I am wondering if I might have this. I have not slept at all for the last 2 nights because I cannot stop moving and twitching. My torso is most affected and my stomach muscles Will contract multiple times in a row. Happens whatever position I lay in.

  5. I also have muscle spasms and hiccups during the day. I was diagnosed recently with Raynaud’s disease I’m now wondering if it is related. Thank you for the information.

  6. My bf has spasms alll night every 3-5 seconds a part of his body moves. His finger, then whole hand, maybe a leg or foot, its constant throughout the night. It’s so worrisome l wonder how he can possibly get a good nights sleep ever? Help

    1. Been reading for days on this. I keep reading that it could be a “Magnesium” deficiency. Ironically l started taking Magnesium because lt’s such a great vitamin that my sister recommended. So l will definitely be asking my bf to try this. His constant movements drive me crazy.

  7. My 3yr old son has been twitching since 6 months old. I didn’t worry that much about it and read somewhere that it could be adrenalines way of releasing its self from the body as too much was developed for the day. His shoulder twitches straight through to fingers. His toes twitch as well. Seems like it’s every 20-30 second intervals.
    He still twitches and I am considering taking him to the Paed. I read it could be iron shortage or over active thyroid? I was also told to give him magnesium
    Supplement. Read also to undergo a EEG.
    Think it’s best for me to consult with the Paed. I’m hoping he will grow out of it I wouldn’t want him on chronic meds.

  8. My bf has a twitching of an arm and a leg a while after sleep and periods of apnea. I was a little worried about but I’ve seen is very common.

  9. My father last month survived a severe heart attack and since then he twitches while in his sleep, hr doesn’t complains of any pain or even the realization of that he twitches but he kind of jerks or folds his legs and shakes almost every 10 seconds. I don’t understand what is causing this. Please help

  10. I have had sleep myclonic jerk on and off for a few years. I started with restless legs and now my entire body jerks . The worst is sometimes I have dreams that accompany them. I may dream that I am being slapped. I hear the slap, I fell the slap. Then gradually I will wake up and have the body jerks. I have had cat scans, eel’s. Nothing. Sometimes it is scary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.