5. Periodic Limb Movements (PLMD)

Periodic Limb Movements (PLMD)

A disorder of repetitive limb movement during sleep. The movements occur for between 0.5 and 5 seconds every 20 to 40 seconds. PLMD can be primary or secondary, Primary PLMD has no known cause while Secondary PLMD can stem from many causes like restless legs syndrome.

Other Issues

PLMD may affect the whole leg causing jerks or flailing movements of the arms and keeping the bed partner awake.


  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Nigh awakenings
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Behavioral problems
  • Performance problems
  • Repetitive leg movements and sometimes arms


Treatment involves medication that either reduces the movements or helps the person sleep through the movements.

Therapy does not cure PLMD but relieves symptoms. Note that many of the medications used to treat PLMD are the same as used to treat restless legs syndrome.