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Stop kicking me!
June 17, 2010 8:36 PM   Subscribe

My husband has what is, as far as I can figure out from the internet, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. After he falls asleep he will frequently start kicking/jerking his leg at regular intervals. This can go on for more than an hour and shakes the whole mattress, keeping me awake. He's been doing it every now and then for years but it's recently gotten more severe or more annoying. Has anyone else experienced this and found any solutions that worked? All the treatments described online seem to be along the lines of anti-convulsants, etc., which seems a bit extreme.

More information: He is about thirty pounds overweight. He snores (but I've seen videos of sleep apnea and he doesn't have it). He doesn't eat a lot of vegetables. I just bought him a jar of daily multivitamins in case that could help. He's just started a new job and we're expecting our first child next week so, yeah, stress.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This could be anything. Not all sleep apnea is alike, but it also could be any number of other things. Your husband should see his doctor and inquire about a sleep study.
posted by decathecting at 8:51 PM on June 17, 2010


He needs to go see his doctor.
posted by k8t at 8:55 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man this sounds identical to my dad's restless leg syndrome. In fact it got so bad that when I moved out to go to college he moved into my bedroom so that my mom could actually sleep at night. He has medication for it now and my parents have one of those beds with individually wrapped coils so a) he does it a lot less because of the drugs and b) it doesn't shake the whole bed as much. So get him to a doctor to get yourself some peace!

Here's a quote from Mayo Clinic:

"Nighttime leg twitching. RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) may be associated with another condition called periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS). Once called myoclonus, PLMS causes you to involuntarily flex and extend your legs while sleeping — without being aware you're doing it. Hundreds of these twitching or kicking movements may occur throughout the night. If you have severe RLS, these involuntary kicking movements may also occur while you're awake. PLMS is common in older adults, even without RLS, and doesn't always disrupt sleep. More than 4 out of 5 people with RLS also experience PLMD."
posted by kthxbi at 9:01 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can't diagnose him, and neither can we. He need to visit a doctor.
posted by hot soup girl at 9:01 PM on June 17, 2010


This can go on for more than an hour and shakes the whole mattress, keeping me awake.

Obvious non-medical solution, if a medical one can't be found: two twin beds.
posted by Dasein at 9:01 PM on June 17, 2010


My sympathies to you - my husband has this as well and it seems to get worse every year, meaning that it now wakes him up sometimes now when it never did before. It doesn't look promising. His dad also has it, and recently started having major problems sleeping through the night but could never figure out why until he had a sleep study. He is now on medication and says he has no more problems.

Last year I made my husband go to the doctor about it. He was tested for certain vitamin deficiencies that would cause this type of thing, but everything came up fine. The doctor prescribed him a drug that was indicated as an anti-seizure drug (can't remember the name, sorry, started with an R). The drug had lovely sounding side effects such as compulsive gambling/shopping. At that point, I decided that he should not be on this medication at 32 years of age if it was only disrupting MY sleep.

At the time, he had just completed an Ironman triathlon and had been training around 17-20 hours weekly, and I was hoping that it was related to this. He's a normal weight, but his diet is pretty lacking for the amount of training he did/does. Unfortunately, I just don't have the energy to remind him more than two times a day to eat vegetables and take a vitamin. His diet isn't terrible, just not great. Nonetheless, I've never been able to complete the experiment to determine if an improved diet led to less PLMD because my subject is too damn stubborn. I haven't been able to figure out any stress correlation either, especially because his stress is mainly nothing more than bodily (meaning endurance training related).

Right now we have no real solution that doesn't include medication. My best nights of sleep are when his legs wake him up and he goes to the other bedroom to sleep. A permanent solution is necessary, because all his shaking actually kind of makes me hate him a little bit in the morning (obviously not good). At this point, I feel it's better for me to like him, have him not be on meds, and have him sleep in a different bed. I'm actually planning on coming up with some way to have two twin beds next to one another, so he only shakes his own damn mattress at night.
posted by smalls at 9:05 PM on June 17, 2010


Long time RLS sufferer here. A doctor should do blood work to check for magnesium, iron, and vitamin d deficiencies, which have all been linked to RLS and similar conditions such as you describe. Also antidepressants have been linked to RLS.

There are medications to treat this such as Mirapex and Requip and they do work wonders but they come with pretty hefty side effects, in my case, compulsive overeating. I've lost nearly 20 pounds since stopping Mirapex. (At least it wasn't the compulsive gambling or the sexual addiction!)

I've seen significant improvement since I started roughing it without my wellbutrin, adding iron, vitamin D, magnesium supplements, and taking a hot, hot bath every night. I also take klonopin, which is a old school anti-anxiety medication used to treat RLS. I'll still have a rough night every now and then, but nothing like the pure torture I used to endure.
posted by tamitang at 9:36 PM on June 17, 2010


My husband had symptoms like this and it was sleep apnea. The kicking and jerking was his body waking him up to start breathing again. The stopping and starting of snoring was less noticeable, somehow, than I thought it would be. I only realized what it was because my father also has sleep apnea. My husband's CPAP machine really changed our lives - it was only in hindsight that we could see how tired we both had been, due to poor sleep. I really think it's worth getting this possibility checked out if there is any chance apnea could be the cause.

If the doctors can't figure out what's going on, and it's just at the level of annoyance, you could switch to two twin beds to eliminate the motion transfer. Get the extra-long twin size and then you can use king size bed linens over both beds together.
posted by beandip at 9:36 PM on June 17, 2010


IANAD. Try niacin.
posted by user92371 at 11:37 PM on June 17, 2010


Just a thought, and I'm assuming this isn't the case. but is your husband on any kind of anti-depressants? Some anti-depressants will cause involuntary muscle movement (tardive dyskinesia), and often it's far more noticeable when sleeping since the person can no longer control what they're doing. My boyfriend suffers from this due to anti-depressants, and is indeed on anti-seizure meds to control it.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 12:13 AM on June 18, 2010


He needs a sleep study to figure out the best course of action. There are a lot of things that can cause or worsen bed-kicking issues; in my own case, I can think of three things that made it worse and three that probably could have fixed it.

Doctors know how to isolate causes and not confound variables, unlike me. He should start there.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:17 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is definitely worth going to a sleep laboratory - this type of behaviour is often associated with sleep apnoea, which can reduce your life expectancy if untreated -

but in the meantime, I have noticed that my restless legs and kicking are much much better on nights when I take 400mg pf magnesium 1 hour before bed.

(and I notice that the bottle of magnesium tablets says "helps relieve mild to moderate restless legs.")

Getting my sleep apnoea treated has also reduced my kicking in my sleep dramatically.
posted by Year of meteors at 2:11 AM on June 18, 2010


A physician friend of mine (who does take anti-depressants) found that bicycling her legs 100 times before she went to bed stopped her restless leg syndrome.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:08 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm going to agree with fairytale here. I once remarked to my friend that I had restless leg syndrome becuase I kick at night and he just looked at me wide-eyed and said that is not just what RLS is about. In his words:
the name is misleading... its like a burning and electrocuting feeling in your body where you have to jerk and move to temporarily alleviate it. Sucks when you're trying to sleep or whatever and you have to jerk and move all goddamn night so you don't feel like you're on fire or being electrocuted. I get it in my shoulders and arms a lot, it also happens in my legs.
Go to a doctor who specializes in sleep.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2010


Note that you can lose your drivers license if you go to a sleep center and mention sleep apnea, and to get it back you will have to participate in a sleep habits study where you are monitored overnight or something like that. This could be annoying to some people.
posted by meepmeow at 11:35 AM on June 18, 2010


meepmeow: Can you provide some evidence for the claim that mentioning sleep apnea to your doctor could result in losing your driver's license? I understand that there are some sleep disorders that, once diagnosed, may lead medical professionals to conclude that a patient is not safe to drive a car. But your claim goes far beyond that.
posted by decathecting at 3:52 PM on June 18, 2010


the name is misleading... its like a burning and electrocuting feeling in your body where you have to jerk and move to temporarily alleviate it. Sucks when you're trying to sleep or whatever and you have to jerk and move all goddamn night so you don't feel like you're on fire or being electrocuted. I get it in my shoulders and arms a lot, it also happens in my legs.

It presents differently for each person and can be any combination of a number of symptoms, or even differ from night to night. For me, it was a deep aching, burning pain so that I needed to constantly move my legs to try to find some relief. If I did fall asleep, my partner said that I violently kicked the covers all night long. Even he didn't realize how bad it was until we went on vacation and shared a full sized bed instead of the king sized one we have at home. If I sit too long in the recliner or in my desk chair, it is more of a restlessness, a feeling that I need to twist and move my legs up and down rather than the kicking.
posted by tamitang at 4:10 PM on June 18, 2010


Note that you can lose your drivers license if you go to a sleep center and mention sleep apnea, and to get it back you will have to participate in a sleep habits study where you are monitored overnight or something like that. This could be annoying to some people.
posted by meepmeow at 1:35 PM on June 18 [+] [!]


I would also like to see evidence of this. Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing in your sleep. Not a thing to do with driving. Now if you were diagnosed with narcolepsy, which is spontaneously falling asleep anywhere, anytime, I could see why driving could be an issue.
posted by CwgrlUp at 6:56 PM on June 18, 2010


tamitang, what you have is close to what my friend described. The point I was trying to make was that most people think it is simply people who kick their legs every once in a while when they sleep and than you get hordes of people thinking it's some kind of made up condition to sell more drugs.
Like I said I agree with the people who think it's best to see someone who knows what they are doing.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:38 PM on June 18, 2010


meepmeow: Can you provide some evidence for the claim that mentioning sleep apnea to your doctor could result in losing your driver's license? I understand that there are some sleep disorders that, once diagnosed, may lead medical professionals to conclude that a patient is not safe to drive a car. But your claim goes far beyond that.

I don't have any hard evidence, but it happened to my brother-in-law in Canada. Note that it was not his doctor that did it, but the sleep center he went to and they said it was routine.
posted by meepmeow at 7:50 PM on June 18, 2010


This is going to sound crazy, and I swear this is not the sort of thing I would ordinariily suggest, but:

Google "plmd soap"

There are some people who have found that putting a bar of soap between the sheets alleviates the kicking.

Now, I am an evidence-based girl, and this sounds pretty inexplicable to me, but on the other hand - if it doesn't work, you're not out anything, since you can just take the soap out of the bed and use it in the shower.

Also, from the reading I've done, it seems that RLS and PLMD probably are different things that have gotten lumped together as doctors have tried to figure them out. I would read as much as you can about both conditions, so when your husband talks to the doctor, he'll be able to speak clearly about which symptoms he's experiencing and which he's not.

It does sound like the medical treatments can be pretty scary, and if separate beds are an option, that's probably your best bet.
posted by kristi at 11:35 AM on June 19, 2010


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