My girlfriend told me that I twitch at night before I fall asleep and sometimes throughout the night. I also wake her up sometimes because of my heavy breathing and snores. I knew that I snore but I'm not sure what the twitching is. What kind of problems are these?
Doctors Answers (5)
Snoring and irregular breathing during the night are signs of sleep apnea. Ideally, you would have a sleep study, determine if you have sleep apnea and if any therapy is required. During the study, your legs would routinely be evaluated for leg disorders. A Board Certified Sleep Specialists would then manage your sleep apnea and medication needs for your legs if indicated.
It sounds as though you may have RLS but the criteria are "the urge to move your legs while at rest in the evening and relief of this urge with movement". You may have mild RLS and when you fall asleep the leg movements may occur in a so-called periodic fashion, every 5-40 seconds and may be simply movement of the great toe or ankle. These periodic movements may be secondary to sleep apnea which is commonly association with snoring. You should seek medical consultation and possibly undergo a diagnostic sleep study.
Muscle twitching as you fall asleep could be normal- we call these twitches hypnic jerks- but twitching in sleep could be related to what is called Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep (PLMS). Other possibilities are seizures and movement disorder called myoclonus but these are less common. Snoring and heavy breathing is an additional concern as this may represent sleep apnea (cessation of breathing in sleep). The best way to clarify this is to speak with a sleep disorder specialist and have an overnight sleep study performed.
Restless Leg Syndrome is an uncomfortable sensation in the legs with an urge to move them. The leg movements you describe are likely transitional myoclonus or Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep. Both of these are usually only an issue for the bed partner and of no harm to the sleeper. Sixty percent of those who snore have obstructive sleep apnea. So if progressive or feeling tired I would recommend you consider testing to rule out sleep apnea.
It is possible that you do have a movement disorder but in some cases leg movements are a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. It is suggested that you call to schedule an appointment with a sleep disorder specialist for evaluation.