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Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Children (cont.)

Sleep-Related Movement Disorders

  • Sleep myoclonus of infancy: This is a self-limited disorder, usually resolving by 6 months of age. In this disorder, infants develop jerking movements during sleep, involving the whole body, trunk, or limbs. No treatment is necessary.
  • Rhythmic movement disorder: This is a disorder which usually resolves by 5 years of age and involves repetitive movements involving the legs and arms. When severe and involving self-injurious behavior, the use of a benzodiazepine medication, such as clonazepam, has been successful in controlling severe cases.
  • Periodic limb movement disorder: This is a rare disorder which presents with brief jerking of extremities during sleep. These episodes often occur in 20-40 second intervals.
  • Restless legs syndrome: This is a disorder involving the lower extremities. The diagnosis is considered when a child complains of a recurrent urge to move the legs, especially when sitting or lying down, that is relieved by movement, and that becomes worse in the evening or at night. Children less than 12 years of age may describe symptoms such as "spiders crawling" or "tickles." Both behavioral treatments and medical treatments have been successful in reducing symptoms.
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