What causes sleep myoclonus

What is actually behind ... muscle twitching?

But first things first: Behind that Myoclonus are lightning-like brain impulses that set individual muscles or entire muscle groups into action. The is related to, but not identical to, the myoclonus Tic that generates more complex movement patterns, e.g. B. Constant blinking, nose wrinkling, throat clearing or shrugging. Tics can be very stressful.

Do the tic-like jerks persist, e.g. B. in the face, longer and combine with jerky movements in the neck and shoulders and involuntary vocalizations, one must think of Tourette's syndrome. Mostly male adolescents are affected by both and often suffer from exclusion.

There are also narrowly defined forms of epilepsy, so-called focal epilepsies. Spatially circumscribed patterns of movement wander and last for minutes rather than seconds. There may also be "ants running" on the skin, seeing flashes of light or other things - consciousness is retained. Fortunately, single-focal seizures are rare. Back to the muscle twitches: they're really common. The most famous representative is the Sleeping myoclonus , a phenomenon that occurs a million times a day as part of the "program change" that the cerebrum goes through between being awake and sleeping. The brain occasionally creates myoclonus when there is overexertion, fright, fear or pain - and those who are used to too much of them also when the alcohol level in the blood suddenly drops.

Some drugs can also cause myoclonus when they are added or withdrawn.

The fact that hypoglycaemia, in addition to agonizing restlessness, also provokes myoclonus shows how sensitive the brain is to a lack of glucose in the blood.

Dr. med. Arne Schäffler, Augsburg www.schaeffler.cc