National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 7: Sleep-Related Movement Disorders

Etiology and Risk Factors for Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)

The precise cause of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) is unknown.

Having another sleep disorder is a risk factor for PLMS.4  Women are at a greater risk for occurrence of PLMD. High levels of caffeine intake and stress can both precipitate PLMD.5

Some medications appear to increase the risk of PLMD, including tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), dopamine-receptor antagonists, lithium, and some anticonvulsants.6

Those with “neurodevelopmental and genetic disorders, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and William's Syndrome,” are more likely to experience PLMD.7

(For information on the difference between PLMD and periodic limb movements during sleep, see Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD).

References 

4 Lee-Chiong, TL, Sateia, MJ and Carskadon, MA, eds. Sleep Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa: Hanley & Belfus, Inc; 2002.
5 Ohayon MM, Roth T. Prevalence of restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder in the general population. J Psychosom Res. 2002;53:547-554.
6 Cleveland Clinic, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, Cleveland: Cleveland Clinic, 2015. Available online at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/childrens-hospital/health-info/diseases-conditions/hic-Periodic-Limb-Movement-Disorder-in-Children-and-Adolescents.
7 Cleveland Clinic, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, Cleveland: Cleveland Clinic, 2015. Available online at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/childrens-hospital/health-info/diseases-conditions/hic-Periodic-Limb-Movement-Disorder-in-Children-and-Adolescents.