Sleep and movement disorders

Elio Lugaresi, Federica Provini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This review focuses on some movement disorders classified according to time of occurrence: i) on falling asleep (restless legs syndrome, nocturnal myoclonus and propriospinal myoclonus; ii) during NREM sleep (nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy); iii) during REM sleep (REM sleep behaviour disorders). Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is characterized by deep ill-defined paresthesias in the legs arising during postural rest, especially when the patient is trying to fall asleep. Motor agitation of the legs is associated with periodic involuntary movements, named nocturnal myoclonus (NM) or periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS). NM may appear independently of RLS and can induce sleep fragmentation, but not necessarily an insomniac complaint. Propriospinal myoclonus (PSM) is characterized by jerks arising from an axial muscle and spreading up and down via multisynaptic pathways, for several segments and appears when patients are relaxed trying to fall asleep, giving rise to severe insomnia. Nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy is characterized by a spectrum of stereotyped dystonic-dyskinetic motor attacks of different intensity and duration and occurring during slow wave sleep. Diagnosis must be made by audiovisual recording as polygraphic recordings rarely show ictal and interictal epileptic abnormalities. REM sleep behaviour disorders (RBD) are episodes of motor agitation arising during REM sleep due to the absence of muscular atonia and are characterized by more or less purposeful gestures enacting attack or defence reactions, sometimes associated with emotional expressions of joy, laughter or sorrow. RBD often herald other signs and symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinsonian syndromes. If correctly diagnosed, all these sleep movement disorders can be treated successfully.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalSleep and Hypnosis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Movement disorders
  • Nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy
  • Nocturnal myoclonus
  • Propriospinal myoclonus
  • REM sleep behaviour disorders
  • Restless legs syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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