Night Tremors Adults

by Kevin Pederson

Night tremors, scientifically known as sleep myoclonus, can be described as a disorder that causes you to experience spasms, when you are sleeping or are about to fall asleep. The term myoclonus refers to involuntary jerks and muscle spasms that occur at any time during the day. Hiccups, for example, can be regarded as one form of mild myoclonus. Sleep starts are another common type of myoclonus that can affect almost everyone. However, if you experience jerks and spasms regularly only during bedtime, you are probably suffering from sleep myoclonus or night tremors. While anyone can experience night tremors, they are more common in adult males.

A night tremor is not really a medical condition; rather, it could be a symptom of a deeper, underlying health disorder. Many health experts believe that this disturbance occurs because of over-activity in those parts of the brain that control body movement. Over-activity of the brain could be a result of factors like:

  • Deprivation of oxygen for a prolonged period of time
  • Drug overdose or a reaction to certain medication
  • Formation of a blood clot or a tumor in the brain
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or Huntington’s disease
  • Trauma and injuries around the head or the spinal cord
Of course, it is not uncommon for a perfectly healthy person to experience night tremors too. The main symptoms of sleep myoclonus are starts, shakes, spasms, twitches and jerks that occur just as you are drifting off to sleep. You may feel exhausted when you wake up because of disturbed sleep. A severe case of night tremors may also cause you pull a muscle or feel sore in the morning.

If the night tremors occur frequently and are interfering with your daily activities, your doctor may advise you to undergo medical treatment. The first step of sleep myoclonus treatment is medication. Your doctor will prescribe small doses of a tranquilizer or an anticonvulsant, which may be gradually increased till the tremors stop completely. These drugs increase drowsiness and get your nervous system to calm down. In addition to drug therapy, you will be asked to cut down on your intake of sugar and caffeine. In case the tremors are a result of a tumor or a blood clot, you may need to undergo surgery.

While night tremors on their own are not really a serious problem, they could cause serious injuries. Therefore, it is important for you to make sure that your bed isn’t close to the wall or any furniture. It is also highly recommended that you avoid sharing your bed with anyone, till the jerks stop completely.

References:

  1. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/myoclonus/detail_myoclonus.htm
  2. ankovic J, et al. Movement disorders: Diagnosis and assessment. In: Bradley WG, et al. Neurology in clinical practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Butterworth-Heinemann/Elsevier

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