Skip to content


    Attention All WebMD Community Members:

    These message boards are closed to posting. Please head on over to our new WebMD Message Boards to check out and participate in the great conversations taking place:

    Your new WebMD Message Boards are now open!

    Making the move is as easy as 1-2-3.

    1. Head over to this page:

    2. Choose the tag from the drop-down menu that clicks most with you (and add it to any posts you create so others can easily find and sort through posts)

    3. Start posting

    Have questions? Email us anytime at

    Sleep trouble -- twitchy muscles & agitation
    garyfritzz posted:
    I have trouble sleeping, mostly related to muscular issues.

    Background: I'm 55. I've had restless legs on & off since I was a kid. It never used to bother me at night, except when lying in bed on my back reading.

    About 20 years ago I started having sleep trouble. If I remember right, it started with muscular tics in my chest/arms, associated with some agitation that made it really hard to sleep. This wasn't like restless legs; with RLS it's "omigod I have to move or I'll go INSANE," whereas this was more of a tic or jerky muscle movement that I had no control over.

    I discovered that taking about 500-1000mg of calcium before bed prevented the problem. For a while. It's gotten progressively worse over the years, though not steadily worse. For a while calcium before bed took care of it. Then I'd wake up in the night and have to take another calcium. (I could feel myself relaxing and my muscles relaxing literally within a few minutes of taking the calcium -- which seems too fast for it to get into my system, but that's what I experienced.) Sometimes the calcium wouldn't help. etc.

    I tried combining calcium and magnesium, even massaging "magnesium oil" into my skin before bed. Seemed to help, for a while.

    About 3 years ago my MD did a blood test and found the only thing out of line was my L-Glutamine levels, which she said were clinically low. I started taking 1-2 g of L-Glutamine at bedtime, and shazam! Slept like a baby.

    For a while. After a few weeks the problem started coming back. For the last year or two it comes and goes. Sometimes I'll sleep just fine. Sometimes I'll wake at 1:30 and lay there for 3-5 hours. I feel agitated and jittery, like I drank too much coffee. (I don't drink coffee and caffeine has almost no effect on me.) My arms and chest muscles twitch and clench. Sometimes my RLS kicks up. Calcium and L-Glutamine (when I wake up) seem to have less and less effect.

    I started taking 50mg of 5HTP about 6 months ago, and that helped me sleep through the night. For a while. (sigh) Now I'm on 100mg and still not sleeping.

    I often have the "muscle agitation" feeling during the day, like borderline RLS. The way my muscles feel right now (5pm), I'd probably have trouble sleeping.

    I don't do coffee or other caffeine, I avoid artificial sweeteners &etc, don't drink sodas, eat relatively healthy. I do have occasional sweets and alcohol.

    I have no idea how much this has disturbed my sleep over the years. I've always been low-energy and often tired. My wife complained for years that I jerked and twitched in my sleep. She said I'd jerk regularly, maybe every 10-15 seconds.

    As I said, I've talked to my MD about this several times. She's very nutritionally oriented but hasn't found any real answers. I've tried every nutritional option I can think of.

    Help!! Any suggestions or ideas?
    EstherRenee55 responded:
    I am so sorry that you haven't gotten a reply. I have all of the symptoms you describe. My fingers, arms, chest, abdomen. My fingers feel like they have RLS (I have that too) arms twitch, chest muscles and abdominals do crunches all by themselves!! What is this???? Too afraid to tell my Dr. It's bad enough I have a ton of other junk going on. I dread going to bed at night. Please let me know if you've seen a Dr. for this. Thanks for posting.
    bcalbr08 responded:
    What you are describing sounds exactly like my Periodic Limb Movement. It's a sudden, jerky movement that you have no control over. I was so violent at one time that my whole body would move and it was very dangerous for anyone to sleep in the same bed! Not to mention having lower back pain every morning from jerking all night. My Neurologist put me on Iron and took some blood tests. Come to find out My Ferritin (something to do with Iron binding) levels were extremely low, which is a known cause for the PLMS. As soon as I started taking Feosol tablets over the counter, this seemed to fix everything for me. It's over the counter and it can't hurt for you to go ahead and give it a try. Good Luck!
    garyfritzz replied to bcalbr08's response:
    Glad that worked for you, but my ferritin actually runs a bit high.

    I had been having a lot of trouble recently, but I realized I had lowered the dose of 5HTP I take before bed. The 5HTP helps me sleep by making it easier to fall back to sleep when I wake up, but apparently it also helps the midnight twitches, too. I boosted my 5HTP from 50 to 100mg, and for the last two nights I've been sleeping like a baby. Worth a try...

    Helpful Tips

    i beat it 50 and i'm sleeping again
    well here it is . go to the sporting goods store get a mouth protector, follow instructions, for fitting . now while the plastic is still ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    10 of 10 found this helpful

    Related Drug Reviews

    • Drug Name User Reviews

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    For more information, visit the Duke Health Sleep Disorders Center