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Sleep movement

Sleep movements are not a problem for most people. But for some people, frequent movements can make it hard to get restful sleep. If you think frequent movements may be disrupting your sleep, consider talking to a healthcare professional.

Scientists detect sleep movements by placing electrodes on the arms and legs of a sleeping person. The involuntary limb movements people make while sleeping is called periodic limb movements (PLMs). One study showed that the average person has around 13 PLMs an hour, but there's a wide range of movement amounts. Some people hardly move at all, and a few people may move more than 100 times per hour.

Several studies have shown that certain genetic variants are associated with how much people move their arms and legs in their sleep. One of these studies found that, depending on the results for this SNP or genetic variants, people move more or less the number of times by hour during sleep. On average, people tend to move about 13 times an hour.

Besides the genetic variants in this report and other variants, many other non-genetic factors can influence sleep movement: Age (in general, older people experience more sleep movements than younger people), sex (on average, men experience more sleep movements than women), alcohol (consuming two or more alcoholic drinks per day was associated with more sleep movements), diet (having more sleep movements is associated with low levels of iron in the blood).

Gene or region studied

  • MEIS1
  • BTBD9
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