Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Sleep Rhythmic Movement – Diagnosis & Treatment


Most children who display these actions do not need help. It is a common part of the way their sleep process develops. Talk about your concerns with your child’s doctor. You should see a sleep specialist if the motions injure your child or keep him or her from sleeping well. 

First, the doctor will need to know when the motions began. He or she will also want to know what else has been going on in your child’s life. You should complete a two-week sleep diary for your child. Make note of any times when the actions occur. This will give the doctor clues as to what might be causing your child’s problems. The doctor will need to know your child’s complete medical history. Be sure to inform him or her of any past or present medication use. Also tell your doctor if your child has ever had any other sleep disorder. 

No tests are needed to detect RMD in most children. Your doctor may have your child do an overnight sleep study if the motions are severe. This study is called a polysomnogram. It charts your child’s brain waves, heart beat, and breathing as he sleeps. It also records how his or her arms and legs move. This will also show if there are other disorders, such as sleep apnea, that are causing the sleep problems.

The best sleep study will also record your child’s sleep on video. This will help show if your child moves or does anything unusual during the night.


Medications may be prescribed if the movements are disturbing the child, interfering with the child’s sleep or causing injuries.