The purpose of the present study was to evaluate sleep patterns and complaints, and Periodic Limb Movement (PLM) and the Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) in subjects with complete spinal cord injury. Volunteers were submitted to two polysomnograms (Oxford Medilog SAC system--EEG, EMG, EOC): (1) basal night, when the volunteer arrived at the Sleep Center, and (2) after a maximal physical test (Cybex Met 300/increase of 12.5 watts/2 min until exhaustion). Eleven volunteers with complete spinal cord injury between T7-T12 were evaluated. Data were analyzed by the paired Student's test (total sleeping time) and by the Wilcoxon matched paired test (change of sleep states, number of awakenings during sleep, latency to REM sleep and leg movements--PLM + RLS). Comparison of sleep recordings from the night before with that from the night after (12 h) practice of physical activity, showed a significant reduction in all of the sleep parameters. The results indicate that physical activity improves the sleep patterns of spinal cord injured volunteers. In particular, we noticed that PLM and RLS after physical activity were inhibited during sleep.