Disorders of Motor Control and Sleep

  • P. Montagna
  • F. Provini
  • G. Plazzi
  • E. Lugaresi


Sleep is physiologically characterized by a prominent reduction in muscular activity. Experimental experience with laboratory animals has helped define the relevant neural mechanisms underlying motor inhibition during the different stages of sleep. Major advances in the pathophysiology of motor control during sleep have been brought about by the widespread use of video-polysomnographic recordings in the clinical setting. Thus, the principal physiological motor accompaniments of sleep have been outlined in man, and several clinical conditions and nosological categories of motor disorders have been delineated. In this short survey of the main disorders of motor control arising during sleep we shall summarize our experience with patients presenting at the Centre for Sleep Disorders at the Institute of Neurology of the University of Bologna, where Polysomnographic studies under audiovisual monitoring have been going on for the last thirty years. We shall deal in particular with the principal motor phenomena which are observed in normal humans during sleep: the so-called nocturnal myoclonus or periodic limb movements of sleep and the restless legs syndrome; nocturnal cramps; the recently-identified propriospinal myoclonus and its peculiar relation to the relaxation phase prior to sleep. The preceding disorders all occur during non-rapid eye movement (NRem) sleep stages. We shall also discuss the so-called Rem sleep behaviour disorders which are instead typical of rapid eye movement (Rem) sleep.


Multiple System Atrophy NRem Sleep Multiple System Atrophy Patient Spinal Myoclonus Nocturnal Myoclonus 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia, Milano 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Montagna
    • 1
  • F. Provini
    • 1
  • G. Plazzi
    • 1
  • E. Lugaresi
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di NeurologiaUniversità di BolognaBolognaItaly

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