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5 year old twitching and jerking during sleep
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5 year old twitching and jerking during sleep

I have a 5 year old son.  In March of last year he experienced an episode where he had repetative jerks of his whole body-similar to what I call "sleep starts"-but they happened repeatedly about every 20 seconds or so.  They started about 20 minutes after he fell asleep.  They did not fully wake him up, but, after they went on for several minutes, I woke him up, hoping to stop them.  When he went back to sleep, they started all over again and again I woke him up after about 20 minutes, just to have them start all over again when he went back to sleep.  This went on for several hours and, just when my husband and I were about to take him to the ER, they stopped as quickly as they started.  My poor little guy was exhausted and actually sore the next day.  We took him to his Dr. the next morning and the doctor said they were myoclonic jerks.  He ordered an MRI, the results of which were normal.

I had never seen my son do this before, although, every night for at least the past couple of years, right as he fell asleep, he would twitch for about 15-20 minutes.  This was usually fairly minor twitching of his arms and legs that never had any sort of rhythm to them.  It was actually how we knew he was finally asleep.

He had not had any more of the myoclonic jerks, as far as I know, since last year, although he did continue the nightly twitching as he went to sleep.  Last week he had another episode of the myoclonic jerks that lasted for about an hour, this time starting about 4am instead of right when he went to sleep.  I again took him to the doctor who has now ordered a sleep-deprived EEG that we are to have next week.

Right now my son and I are sharing a bed, as we are in the process of moving and my husband has the rest of our furniture at our new house in another state.  I have noticed that my son twitches off and on throughout the night.  I know that he's always been a restless sleeper-all over his bed, frequently waking up, although not coming to full wakefulness, just sort of sitting up, 1/2 asleep and then laying back down.  He is very hard to get up in the morning, even if he's been "asleep" for 10-11 hours per night.  On the weekends, when he doesn't have to get up for preschool, he will often sleep 13-14 hours if I'll let him.  It seems to me that he doesn't really settle into a good deep sleep until the early morning hours.  He often complains about being tired during the day.  He struggles with focus and hyperactive type behaviors (although he hasn't been diagnosed with ADHD or anything) and his teacher says he doesn't have as much "stamina" as the other kids.  He easily falls asleep in the car, especially in the evenings on the way home.  When he gets ready to go to sleep he doesn't complain about strange feelings in his legs (such as in Restless Leg Syndrome) although he sometimes, during the day, will talk about really feeling like he needs to stretch his legs.

Sorry for the long question (I just wanted you to have all of the background info), but does anyone have any idea what might be going on?  Should I be talking to his doctor about having a sleep study done?  Could it be that all of this is normal and has been happening most of his life and I just didn't notice it as much since we didn't share a bed that often?  Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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15 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_n_tn
Your situation leaves so much to say, so if I sound abrupt, it is just to not write a book.

Daytime sleepiness and lack of stamina - classic for those with disrupted sleep.

Trouble with focus and hyperactive behavior - ditto.

Excessive need for sleep - can indicate quality of sleep is poor

RLS - is not just in evenings, it can be any time one is sitting still, and feeling a need to move around - "stretch" their legs is a common description.

Myoclonic jerks - movments during sleep when rythmic are sometimes diagnosed as periodic limb movment disorder.

A sleep study would tell you and the doctors exactly what you are working with. You would know how disrupted his sleep actually is. Short of that, it may be helpful to video tape a few minutes of his movements. A pediatric neurologist may recognize what they are and know what to do without a study.

Before going to that length, has he had complete iron studies done or at the very least, a ferritin level? Some movement disorders have been linked to anemia and it may not show up in the routine blood counts as it may be in the storage iron. Even what is considered in the normal range may not be adequate for those prone to these movement problems. I am not knowledgeable about pediatric levels. In adults a ferritin level of at least 60 is optimal when dealing with sleep movement issues and/or RLS.

Your mother instincts are good. If you resolve his sleep, you may improve many other aspects of his life. Best wishes.
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Avatar_n_tn
I just sent you my info as a message, please check you inbox. My 3 1/2 year old daughter has been having the exact same issue for the pass 3 nights. Love to know if you've found anything out about your son. I hope he is doing well. Please let me know how is is doing and if you learned anything new. Thank you so much.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi wssquared77, how are you and how is your son doing? Can you provide some more details regarding the jerks he is going through - how often they occur and is it a continuous one or keeps repeating in an on and off pattern? Have you observed whether these jerks do continue even after he falls asleep? Is there anything that you do or it stops on its own? Usually, hypnic - sleep jerks or twitches are normal and can occur when he tends to fall asleep or while trying to wake up from sleep. He might also probably be suffering from stress and anxiety, which can also be a trigger factor. Also probably be having Rhythmic movement disorder. He needs proper rest and relaxation. It is better to consult a Neurologist and a Sleep specialist for further evaluation. Take care and update on the progress.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello,

My son who is 8 years old has the exact same jerking while sleeping. I spoke with his doctor about it and he said they were normal. He mentioned it was his body trying to relax, but I've become a little concerned, as they happen frequently (like every 10-20 seconds). Sometimes, he'll be fine and sleep for hours without having them, then other times, he'll have them for several hours. I recently began to notice them in the early AM when my son comes to our bed. The jerks don't bother him, but they keep me up. One time, I also noticed his eyes moving while shut and soon as I moved him, it all stopped. He's an active boy and it doesn't seem to affect his sleeping, as he goes to bed around 9pm and is up between 6-7am. I have sent his doctor a message again and want to know if he should have a EEG test done.

If anyone has any insite/info regarding a similar experience with your child, your response would be appreciated.

Thanks & God bless!
Karen
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Avatar_f_tn
My son is 10 months old and has these frequent jerks in his sleep as well. He was born at 37 weeks. It appears he is just restless. I try to wake him up because the jrking will not stop for at least 15 to 30 minutes, but I am never successful. He is extreamly tired but cannot fall asleep until the jerking stops. Please let me know your sons prognosis.
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Avatar_n_tn
my daughter who is nine has a similar set of issues esp twitching as she falls asleep, esp if she is tired or has been especially physically active during the day. her ped seems unconcerned as it has not escalated or affected her daily life. any insight would be appreciated, thanks!
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi how are ypu?  My 5 year old beagn having the same symtpoms when falling asleep with the jerking and twitching for the first 15-20 mins and then its intemittent throughout the evening.  How is your child doing now?  What was your end result?  Thank you for sharing your story.
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Avatar_m_tn
All of you, please click on the given link below:

http://books.google.com.sa/books?id=RbPB4XCqQSsC&printsec=frontcover&hl=ar&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Thank you,
Ali Riaz
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Avatar_f_tn
i have the same issues. i feel like i have things crawling inside my legs at night..(its worse when i have sugar and pregnant..i cant sleep at all..)  its hard for me to go to sleep..my mind constantly goes on and on.. when i do fall asleep i get woken up by my jerking or i feel as if i am falling.. i do this alot. my husband thought i was abused at some time in life. i always feel tired. its much easier to get help when your young if you  have insurance. i dont have any so i wish my mother would have checked this out sooner. instead i have to live with this.. so what ever this may be..please for the sake of your childrens future..it will not go away.. get help. thank you.
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Avatar_m_tn
It's been many years since your post! Did you ever come across any answers? It's alarming to me as my son had similar episodes. Turned out he had Lyme disease and coinfections. We live in California where I didn't know it exist. I hope you've found your answers by now. I'd love to hear an update if you have one.

Be well
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Avatar_m_tn
My son is 17 yo. first time he had them when he was about to have his apedix remoove he was under big stress. He was sleeping then wakes up and start ucontroloblle hands and legs jerking it last for about 10 min, he is in obsolut cancheus condition when this happens. After one year pas we were at his comp. , it happen again that day last thesame 10 min, the pattern of those jerks are thesame, Now, enother year after we went for aur hollydays to florida and it happening every night, he gous to bed sleeps for 40min to 2.00 hour and it starts again. He talled me that after each episode he has a lot of energy, During each episode he would wake up and becouse he is very scert he starts walking back and force, while his jerks with his hands and legs, they look to me like shock-like contractions. Us usuale they last 10 - 15 min, when they stop hi gous to bad and sleeps normal untill the morning. Sims to me it happens only when we are on the trip or vacation. Is anybody expirience something like that?
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Avatar_f_tn
While sleeping, my children do a lot of twitching, thrashing, and sitting up when they are having digestive problems. As babies they suffered a lot from acid reflux. We finally found that a supplement of digestive enzymes and probiotics helped them a lot and makes it so they are not nearly so restless at night.
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Avatar_f_tn
While sleeping, my children do a lot of twitching, thrashing, and sitting up when they are having digestive problems. As babies they suffered a lot from acid reflux. We finally found that a supplement of digestive enzymes and probiotics helped them a lot and makes it so they are not nearly so restless at night.
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Avatar_m_tn
I was hoping this wasn't a symptom of lyme. I was worried because my son has the sleep twitching too, and I'm 99.9% certain that I have lyme; I had an insect bite (surrounded by a large bulls-eye rash) 14 yrs ago. At the time, I assumed it was probably a spider bite. My hubs and I debated whether I should go to the ER since it was unlike any bite we'd ever seen, I never went (wish I had). Since then, I've been plagued by a myriad of lyme symptoms - too many to list. I have had an ELISA test which came back negative, but I know they are not completely accurate and produce a lot of false negatives. I've been bounced from doc to doc and diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Anyways, I get random muscle twitches all throughout my body and they get much worse when finally relaxing at night, and hubs says I twitch in my sleep. I've been worried that my son's twitching might be a lyme symptom, since the spirochete can cross the placenta; and if I have it, there's a chance that he may have been infected in utero. I hope this is not the case..  Oh, and I live in Wisc, which has a very high incidence of lyme.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi,

First of all I am not a doctor but a worried father of an eight year old son. My son is going through the same and keep shaking after every 10-20 seconds. I did through research and observed is food intake routine to figure out the issue as doctors didn't find anything and said everything is normal. I am a big time follower of Ayurveda so I did extensive research and observed my son's food intake throughout to determine the issue.

What I found is pretty interesting. Since I am a single parent of my son, my grandmother prepares his food always. And I found she was feeding him fired food all the time with very less (or no fiber at all), also popcorn (which has very high amount of salt, one more thing my mother give him milk right after he is awake. Oily food, high salt intake and dairy product (in moderation it doesn't hurt though) weakens the heart, blood flow and nervous system which sent my son into stress, anxiety and fear.

Here is what I did which showed significant improvement.

For the first day I gave him only warm water and fruit juice at the max, this helped to expel oil from his body that he got via fried food.

for the next two days, I have him only juicy fruit i.e. Oranges, Pineapple, Papaya, Watermelon and fruit jucies.

third day onward I introduced very light food combined fruits. for e.g. wheat cereal, Khichadi (indian dish you can google for recipe) try.

Most importantly I started spending more time with him, playing with him and started following a routine where I give him warm glass of water the moment he wakes up and then take him out along with him for brisk walking or mild running to increase bloodflow in his body. Most important thing is keeping him happy all the time to reduce his stress level.

I hope this will help.
  
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