Periodic limb movement disorder

Many people who have restless leg syndrome (RLS) have a related disorder called periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). It affects the legs and arms but only occurs when you are sleeping.

People who have PLMD don't always know they have it. Involuntary movements or jerking may result in kicking a bed partner. Another sign is bedding may be found tangled in the morning. Movements like this can occur all night, but occur most often in the first half.

Periodic limb movement disorder is rare for people younger than age 30. It becomes more common as people age. Nearly 50 percent of people older than age 65 are affected.
Your doctor will have you take a sleep study (polysomnography) to confirm periodic limb movement disorder.
Periodic limb movement disorder can affect your personal and work life. Your health care provider will talk with you about your treatment options.

Reviewed By: Dr. Michael Schmitz, PsyD, LP, CBSM, Abbott Northwestern Hospital; Andrew Stiehm, MD, Allina Health clinics
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 03/22/2016