Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep-Related Movement Disorders

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2017 Aug;23(4, Sleep Neurology):1005-1016. doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000488.


Purpose of review: This article provides an update on six sleep-related movement disorders: restless legs syndrome (RLS), periodic limb movement disorder, sleep-related leg cramps, bruxism, rhythmic movement disorder, and propriospinal myoclonus, with an emphasis on RLS.

Recent findings: RLS is a common sensorimotor disorder that impairs quality of life. RLS is frequently comorbid to neurologic, psychiatric, vascular, and inflammatory diseases. Accumulating evidence implicates the pathophysiology of RLS as a state of dopamine dysfunction and iron deficiency that occurs on a background of genetic susceptibility conferred by 6 gene polymorphisms. Multiple treatments approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are available. Dopamine agonists and α2δ calcium channel ligands are considered first-line treatments, but these treatments have very different side effect profiles that should be taken into consideration.

Summary: Sleep-related movement disorders are frequently encountered in clinical practice. For some disorders, particularly RLS and periodic limb movement disorder, our understanding of biology, epidemiology, and treatment is advanced. For others, much work is needed to determine optimal treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Dopamine Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Movement Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus Syndrome / genetics
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus Syndrome / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / genetics
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / therapy*


  • Dopamine Agonists