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In the journals: Exercise eases nighttime leg twitches

May 1, 2009

In the journals

Exercise eases nighttime leg twitches

Stress and worry — and sometimes a partner's snoring — can keep us up at night, but some women may be losing sleep for a less obvious reason. Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) may cause their legs to kick or jerk every 20 to 40 seconds for minutes to hours during sleep. Even when they are not awakened by these episodes, they may suffer from problems related to chronic sleep loss, including daytime drowsiness and lack of alertness, because normal sleep patterns are disrupted.

PLMD can be treated with medications, but a study indicates that exercise may also be effective. Brazilian researchers found that single sessions of intense exercise as well as longer-term regular workouts reduced leg muscle contractions and improved sleep in a small group of people with PLMD (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, January 2009).

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