01/26/2012 02:29 pm ET Updated Feb 21, 2012

5 Tips For Battling Twitchy Sleep Disorder

Twitchy sleep disorder is a common sleep disorder. It usually affects everyone from time to time. We spoke to David Uskavitch, M.D., the clinical director of the Vanderbilt Neurological Clinic in Nashville, Tennessee, for one approach to the medical problems from which you or your loved ones may suffer when trying to sleep.

If you think you might have twitchy sleep disorder, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Shellie Braeuner

During a twitchy sleep episode, the sleeper's arms or legs will twitch, move or jerk as the sleeper dozes or reaches deep sleep. "This is part of a series of behaviors called sleep related myoclonus," says Dr. Uskavitch. In some sleepers, the jerking is severe enough to wake them from a sound sleep.


"Don't worry," says Dr. Uskavitch. "This is a benign condition. Most people twitch in their sleep from time to time." If the movement starts to disturb your sleep, then it may be time to make other changes.

Reduce Stress

Stress may affect nighttime twitching. While nobody can get rid of all stress, Dr. Uskavitch urges people to find balance between work and home life as much as possible. Set aside time for fun with family and friends. Try relaxing before bed with a book or music.

Eat A Balanced Diet

According to Dr. Uskavitch, "A healthy diet contributes to a healthy night's sleep." Vitamins and minerals found in fresh fruits and vegetables provide our bodies with needed nutrients, reset our body clocks and help our muscles stay relaxed.

Get Enough Sleep

"Practice good sleep hygiene," urges Dr. Uskavitch. This includes reserving the bed for sleeping. Working, studying and watching TV should take place away from the bed. This teaches the body that the bed is just for sleeping. It's also important that you set aside enough time for sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to myoclonus. Dr. Uskavitch urges people to get at least six hours of sleep a night.

Seek Professional Help

If the twitches disturb your rest to the point where you are sleepy during the day, it's time to seek help. "This is a very treatable condition," Dr. Uskavitch says. "There are a variety of medications available. There is no reason for people to suffer."

David Uskavitch, M.D, earned his bachelor's degree (with distinction) from the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences in 1980 and his Master of Arts in Teaching degree in biology from the University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1981. Dr. Uskavitch received his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1987. He then completed his internship in medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1988 and went on to complete his residency in neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1991.

Have you ever suffered from twitchy sleep disorder? What worked for you?