The objectives of the study were to measure the prevalence of periodic leg movements during NREM and REM sleep (PLMS) and while awake (PLMW) and to assess the impact of PLMS on nocturnal sleep and daytime functioning in patients with narcolepsy. One hundred and sixty-nine patients with narcolepsy and 116 normal controls matched for age and gender were included. Narcoleptics with high and low PLMS indices were compared to assess the impact of PLMS on sleep and Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) variables. More narcoleptics than controls had a PLMS index greater than 5 per hour of sleep (67% versus 37%) and an index greater than 10 (53% versus 21%). PLMS indices were higher both in NREM and REM sleep in narcoleptic patients, but the between-group difference was greater for REM sleep. A significant increase of PLMS index was also found with aging in both narcoleptic patients and controls. PLMW indices were also significantly higher in narcoleptic patients. Patients with an elevated index of PLMS had a higher percentage of stage 1 sleep, a lower percentage of REM sleep, a lower REM efficiency and a shorter MSLT latency. The present study demonstrates a high frequency of PLMS and PLMW in narcolepsy, an association between the presence of PLMS and measures of REM sleep and daytime functioning disruption. These results suggest that PLMS represent an intrinsic feature of narcolepsy.
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