What causes twitching while sleeping?

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Even newborm babies twitch while they sleep
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Want to know what causes twitching while sleeping, consider these factors

You are lying in bed next to your twitching spouse. He does this every night. What causes twitching while sleeping?

Twitching is an involuntary movement made while sleeping or awake caused by various factors, including medical problems. Determining precisely what causes it is necessary before successful treatment occurs.

There are different types of twitches, including involuntary movements called myoclonus, caused by abrupt tensing or relaxing of a muscle or several muscles.

When experiencing myoclonus, the person feels as if he is falling just as he drifts off to sleep, leading to the need to "catch' oneself. After being jarred awake, it is difficult to fall back to sleep. Chronic sleep myoclonus may indicate a sleep disorder or underlying medical problem.

Those suffering from multiple sclerosis, ALS or Parkinson's experience twitching because of disrupted neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Neurotransmitters send messages to the brain, which make blood vessels constrict. When this takes place, sleep occurs. If the messages aren't received correctly, twitching results and sleep is disrupted.

Other types of twitching include involuntary muscle spasms leading to cramping; involuntary convulsions associated with seizures and a tic, which is a recurring, irregular and unprompted movement. Tics generally take place in the neck, face, shoulders, hands or trunk of the body. Tremors are also a form of twitching. They are cadenced, unconscious movements, although not as severe as a tic, spasm or convulsion.

A condition called benign fasciculation syndrome also leads to twitching because muscles are cold or overly exercised.

A person suffering form a pinched nerve in the back or neck can experience night time jerking as can those with an electrolyte imbalance involving potassium, magnesium or calcium. Some medications lead to muscle contractions.

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) makes legs twitch incessantly during sleep.

Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is an actual sleep disorder leading to jerking actions lasting up to 30 minutes. The jerking movement is recurring and interferes with sleep. Because poor sleep is the result, PLMD sufferers are fatigued during the day.

A person goes through various stages when he sleeps. During the REM or rapid eye movement stage the person's body is essentially paralyzed so he can't act out his dreams. However, when a person has REM behavior disorder he is unable to sustain sleep paralysis and experiences abrupt and vigorous involuntary movements. Normally, a person's body jerks before or after the REM cycle but not during.

If you or your bed partner are victims of twitching, changing your nighttime routine may help. Avoid drinking alcohol before going to bed or change your bed time.

Some afflicted with this problem opt to take part in sleep studies where they are observed and their body movements measured while sleeping. The study determines what is responsible for the nighttime movements and the right course of action can then be taken.

Doing lower body resistance training may prevent jerking. Resistance training is moving against something or resisting it. Aerobic exercises including swimming, bike riding, walking, water aerobics and using an elliptical machine increase blood circulation and lower stress, leading to better sleep.

Limit the amount of caffeine consumed and eating magnesium rich foods, such as beans, nuts and spinach is recommended as is doing yoga or meditation, which relaxes a person.

Certain medications reduce the symptoms of myoclonus including clonazepam, a tranquilizer.  Anti-epileptic drugs can be effective. These barbiturates calm the central nervous system.

Sodium valporate is a therapy used alone or in conjunction with clonazepam in treating this condition. A building block of serotonin called 5-hydroxytrptophan (5-HTP) is effective on some patients, while worsening the condition in others.

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