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What is the cause for the jerking of legs at night?

Q: My father (72 years) gets jerks in his legs while lying down. What are the probable reasons for this? He got an EEG done which has shown no abnormality. My father says that the jerks are more when he has gas. Is there any linkage between gas and these jerks.

A:Nocturnal jerking of the legs is a surprisingly common event at all ages and may be accompanied by sleep disturbance. There is no specific cause found in most cases even when sophisticated sleep studies are carried out. Other associated health problems may need attention such as enlarged prostate or even psychological problems such as depression. Avoiding other sleep disturbances may help, and certainly diet to reduce the intake of gas causing foods is advisable. There are, however, no specific treatments for either problem, and a perfect night of sleep without gas may be a pleasure that cannot readily be attained. Maybe the stresses of modern existence damages sleep patterns in many ways that are less of a problem in a more natural daily life.

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