Sleep Myoclonus


Most of us have seen infants, or even adults suddenly jerking during their sleep. Sometimes, we can feel it happening with our own body, and we wake up wondering what just happened. If you were in that situation recently, you have come to the right place, because in this article, we will discuss everything related to sleep myoclonus or nocturnal myoclonus. The condition is considered pretty normal in babies, but for adults, it can be a symptom of some other disorders. In more sophisticated terms, sleep myoclonus refers to twitching movement or jerking of muscles, which occurs during sleep. It is fully involuntary, which means that a person has no conscious control over such activities, and in most scenarios, they don’t feel it at all. Sleep myoclonus is typically seen in small muscles like fingers, ears, etc. However, they can also cause movements in arms or legs. In babies, it may look like sudden twitching and can also lead to confusion regarding the possibility of a seizure.

When and Where Does Sleep Myoclonus Occur

Though there’s no observed pattern of sleep myoclonus, some studies have revealed that they occur during the initial stages of sleep, when the person has just fallen asleep. It can also be stimulated due to noise, light, or movement. If the myoclonus activity particularly occurs with the limbs, it is referred to as Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). In PLMD, repetitive movements of legs are observed during sleep and even wakefulness. Other parts of the body where PLMD can occur are elbows, wrists, and palms. It also may happen over and again but goes away on its own after some time.

Causes of Sleep Myoclonus

Though there have been no conclusive studies, it is generally believed that sleep myoclonus occurs due to irregularities associated with a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Since the condition is associated with dopamine, it cannot be related to seizures, which occur due to electrical fluctuations in the brain.

Sleep myoclonus may also occur as a side effect of some drugs such as levodopa, bismuth salts, and cyclic antidepressants. Halting the usage of medicine can help in controlling the condition. In some cases, myoclonus is also due to genetic reasons, and the condition travels in the family tree.

Sleep Myoclonus Diagnostic Procedures

The diagnosis of sleep myoclonus involves the general review of medical history and symptoms, followed by a medical examination. For determining the cause of your sleep myoclonus and for ruling out the possibility of any other medical condition, the doctors recommend the following tests:

Electroencephalography (EEG)

This methodology records your mind’s electrical movement and may help figure out where in your cerebrum, the myoclonus starts. In this methodology, specialists connect little terminals to your scalp. You might be approached to inhale profoundly and consistently and glance at bright lights or tune in to sounds, as these activities may reveal the unusual electrical movement.

Electromyography (EMG)

In this methodology, specialists put EMG surface terminals on numerous muscles, particularly those that are engaged with the myoclonus.

The instrument records reading when your muscles are at rest and when you contract them at once. The patterns thus reported help in determining the pattern and trigger point of the myoclonus.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI scan is often utilized to check for auxiliary issues or tumors inside your cerebrum or the spinal cord, which may trigger your sleep myoclonus symptoms. An MRI exam uses radio waves and magnetic fields to deliver point by point pictures of your cerebrum, spinal cord, and different organs of your body.

Laboratory Exams

As mentioned before in the article, sleeping myoclonus also has a genetic element in it. Therefore, doctors suggest a few laboratory tests to identify the actual cause of the symptoms. Laboratory tests are done to check for:

  • Kidney or liver malfunctions
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Drugs or Toxins
  • Autoimmune diseases

Sleep Myoclonus in Children

Myoclonus is a condition that may cause concern when it happens in young children, as it might appear to be a seizure or puerile fits. The significant distinction is that sleep myoclonus occurs in sleep.

Sleep myoclonus is basic during the primary seven day stretch of an infant’s life, and for most of them, it goes away within a year. Medically known as amiable neonatal sleep myoclonus, there are no specific results to the condition or purposes behind concern.

Newborn children who experience sleep myoclonus will have an ordinary neurologic assessment and electroencephalogram (EEG). On the off chance that these developments happen even the infant is awake, further evaluation by your pediatrician may determine the real cause.

Treatment of Sleep Myoclonus

Sleep myoclonus isn’t viewed as a severe issue needing treatment except when it is meddling with an individual’s daily activities. If it is, the condition might be treated with Xenazine (tetrabenazine), a medication frequently used to muscle movement disorders, such as Huntington’s disease. Much of the time, be that as it may, treatment isn’t fundamental if sleep is normal. It is accepted as a usual condition, implying that it has no short-term or long haul impacts on the well-being or quality of life of the influenced person.  While medicines can be used to treat the serious cases of myoclonus, such as dizziness, nausea, irritation, body-pain, sleepiness, and fatigue, the effects of some medicines may disappear if taken for a prolonged period.

Preventing Sleep Myoclonus

Myoclonus is not a typical preventable condition, but you can take certain precautions to minimize the risk of it happening with you. You can take the following steps to reduce the risk of sleep myoclonus:

  • Always wear headgear while driving a two-wheeler and protect yourself against any brain injury. You can do so by generally avoiding accidents.
  • It’s better to consult your doctor in the beginning only if you have suddenly started experiencing the symptoms.

With proper treatment and timely diagnosis, your sleep myoclonus will not hamper your life. Make sure you follow the necessary precautions to prevent your myoclonus from worsening.

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About Sleep Guru Freshman   SLEEP HEALTH INFORMATION

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Joined APSense since, April 10th, 2020, From Pune, India.

Created on Jun 3rd 2020 02:47. Viewed 136 times.


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