Periodic Limb Movement Disorder


In 2003, I complained to my neurologist about restless sleep. I said that I was not waking up refreshed, regardless of how long I had spent in bed. Of course, I had already been living with relapsing-remitting MS for a decade. Debilitating fatigue was a staple of my daily life.

Nevertheless, my neurologist was concerned that something else might also be taking place. Therefore, he ordered a formal sleep evaluation, overnight in a sleep center. I was connected to every conceivable form of sensor, to monitor my sleep patterns throughout the night.

The sleep study test results indicated that I was suffering from periodic limb movement disorder. This is characterized by repeated cramping or jerking of the legs during sleep. I asked the sleep technician if it would be possible to review the videotape of my sleep study, a request to which he agreed. My legs were wildly thrashing, repeatedly, in a completely uncoordinated pattern. It looked as though I was very actively engaged in a horrendous fight, and I most clearly was losing. No wonder I woke up feeling like I had performed a strenuous workout. I had! This also very conveniently explained why I would typically find my sheets and blankets on the floor, in a messy heap.

To treat my newly-diagnosed sleep disorder, my neurologist prescribed a dopaminergic agent, Sinemet. Unfortunately, I was not able to take this medication. I found it to be excessively sedating during the day.

Interestingly enough, I had a repeated sleep evaluation in 2014. The results did not show that I was continuing to suffer from periodic limb movement disorder. I honestly don’t know why, since I had assumed that periodic limb movement disorder was a chronic condition. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily take one less chronic condition to manage, with or without a formal explanation.

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