Sleep-Related Movement Disorders

  • Ann ReynoldsEmail author


To effectively manage sleep problems in children with neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD), a comprehensive approach which explores all potential etiologies is needed. Sleep-related movement disorders (SRMD) may be an unrecognized cause of sleep disturbance in children with NDD; however, SRMD have not been adequately studied in this population. Limited evidence suggests that restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS) may be contributors to sleep disturbances in children with autism spectrum disorder and attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder. There are also small studies which suggest that children with some genetic disorders may have an increased prevalence of PLMS. Children with NDD often have difficulty communicating symptoms, a skill which is critical to enable diagnosis of RLS. They also have difficulty cooperating with polysomnography, which is critical for making a diagnosis of PLMS. Diagnoses of sleep-related bruxism and sleep-related rhythmic movement disorders are also problematic, as these behaviors are often present during the day as well as during sleep in individuals with NDD. These factors lead to difficulty making reliable diagnoses of a sleep-related movement disorder, which in turn leads to difficulty conducting research to establish the prevalence of and treatments for SRMD in individuals with NDD. Sleep is integral to optimal development and daytime function and to quality of life for individuals with NDD and their families. Therefore, further study is needed to understand the impact of SRMD in individuals with NDD.


Sleep Movement disorders Restless legs syndrome Periodic limb movements Bruxism Neurodevelopmental disorders Autism spectrum disorders Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder Iron Dopamine 



Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder


Apnea-hypopnea index


Autism spectrum disorder


Developmental delay




Federal Drug Administration


Growing pains


Intellectual disability


Neurodevelopmental disabilities


Obstructive sleep apnea


Periodic limb movement disorder


Periodic limb movement index


Periodic limb movements of sleep




Pediatric sleep questionnaire


Randomized control trial


Rapid eye movement


Restless legs syndrome


Rhythmic movement disorder


Rhythmic masticatory muscle activity


Sleep-related bruxism


Sleep-related movement disorder


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors


Typical development


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pediatrics, University of Colorado Denver, Children’s Hospital ColoradoAuroraUSA

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