The aim of this study was to define the time structure of leg movements during sleep occurring with an intermovement interval (onset-to-onset) shorter than 10 s in patients with restless legs syndrome and controls, and to compare it to the structure of movements with intervals of 10-90 s or >90 s. Polysomnographic recordings of 141 untreated patients and 68 age-matched normal controls were analysed. All movements were detected and classified into three categories, separated by intervals of <10, 10-90 or >90 s. The number of movements included in each category was significantly higher in patients than in controls. The movements with an interval of >90 s occurred steadily during the night, whereas the hourly distribution of movements with intervals of <10 or 10-90 s was decreasing or bell-shaped in patients or controls, respectively. Movements with an interval of <10 s tended to have a shorter duration and constituted shorter sequences than movements with intervals of 10-90 or >90 s. The time structure features of the three categories of movements considered in this study were found to be clearly different. This, together with previous observations on the differential effects of dopamine agonists on movements with different intervals, suggests that movements with intervals of <10 and >90 s are regulated by neurotransmitter mechanisms different from those modulating movements with an interval of 10-90 s.
- Journal Article