Abnormal Movements During Sleep

While asleep we move every 20 minutes or so. Some people move more than others, and in some sleep disorders (e.g. severe sleep apnea) the person can be very restless.

There are however specific disturbances of sleep where abnormal movements are the most important feature.

Sleep walking, sleep talking, REM behaviour disorder (acting out dreams), sleep epilepsy, night terrors are common examples.

In fact movements during sleep can be classified in simple and complex movements.

Simple Movements

  • Restless leg and periodic limb movement disorder
  • Propio-spinal myoclonus
  • Excessive hypnic jerks (sleep starts)
  • Partial sleep myoclonus
  • Sleep bruxism (tooth grinding)
  • Nocturnal leg cramps

Complex Movements

  • REM Behaviour Disorders
  • Disorders of arousal:
    • Sleep Walking
    • Sleep Talking
    • Sleep Terrors
    • Confusional arousal
  • Nightmares
  • Head Banging / Body Rocking
  • Nocturnal Epilepsy
    • Generalised tonic-clonic seizure
    • Partial complex seizure
  • Psychiatric syndromes
    • Dissociative disorders
    • Panic attacks

For more information download this Abnormal Movements document.