Restless legs syndrome and periodic movements in sleep: physiopathology and treatment with L-dopa

Clin Neuropharmacol. 1986;9(5):456-63. doi: 10.1097/00002826-198610000-00006.


Seven patients suffering from restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic movements in sleep (PMS) were investigated before and after treatment with L-Dopa. The effect of treatment was evaluated by polysomnography, structured interviews, and daily questionnaires. Sleep organization and subjective complaints improved during treatment with 100 to 200 mg of L-Dopa. Polysomnographic recordings also revealed a significant decrease of periodic leg movements during the first third of the night and a rebound during the last third. These results and previous biochemical findings raise the hypothesis that RLS and PMS may both result from reduced dopaminergic activity in the CNS, perhaps resulting from decreased sensibility of postsynaptic receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Movement Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sodium Oxybate / therapeutic use
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Levodopa
  • Sodium Oxybate
  • Dopamine