Sleep related motor disorders people with periodic

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Sleep Related Motor Disorders People with periodic limb movement disorder may experience an intense or prolonged set of hypnic jerks (involuntary twitches that occur between wakefulness and sleep), and may involuntarily twitch muscles, particularly the legs, whilst sleeping. It occurs in approximately 3.9% of the general population and is slightly more common in women than men 60 . This becomes a problem when it disrupts the sleep of the sufferer or partner. The reasons for periodic limb movement disorder are unclear, but it may be related to a disturbance in circadian rhythms. Medication can help, particularly those that reduce muscle function during sleep. A similar disorder is restless legs syndrome. Figures from the US estimate that it affects around 7% of the population 61 , increasing with age and being more common in women 62 . Sufferers experience unpleasant sensations in their legs, and thus feel irresistible urges to move them; they may only gain relief by walking or moving. Symptoms are said to occur typically in the evenings potentially leading to difficulties in falling asleep. There is some evidence that both periodic limb movement disorder and restless legs syndrome can be side effects of antidepressants 63 . The large majority of sufferers of restless legs syndrome do respond to treatment. Mild cases may be treated by abstaining from caffeine and alcohol. There is also some evidence that regular exercise during the day may reduce symptoms, though further research is needed to confirm this 64 . Those who are more severely distressed by restless legs syndrome may experience relief with drugs that mimic the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. REM Behaviour Disorder This is a rare condition in which people can be seen to ‘act out their dreams’. This parasomnia tends to begin later in life and is more common in adults over the age of 50, particularly in men. Most people are unable to move during REM sleep because their muscles are paralysed. However, people with REM behaviour disorder maintain some degree of muscle tone during REM sleep. Therefore, the sleeper is not paralysed and the muscles stay partially active, sometimes with violent results. People acting out their dreams during REM behaviour disorder can injure their partners, and it is not uncommon for couples to get into the habit of sleeping apart for this reason. Interestingly enough, this has also been noticed in other species, such as dogs. 65 44
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‘A sleepless night is as long as a year.’ Chinese Proverb
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Sleeping Well 49 48
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51 50 This section of the report describes ways in which we can all improve the quality of our sleep. As highlighted in Part II, sleep is crucial to the health of all individuals. It is important to remember that poor sleep has massive implications for our health; it is in all of our interests to ensure that we sleep better.
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