NEW ORLEANS—Nocturnal limb movements that are associated with poor sleep quality may contribute to cerebral white matter hyperintensities and could impair fronto-executive function, according to research presented at the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Nocturnal limb movement counts strongly correlated with the presence of white matter hyperintensities, while sleep efficiency was negatively correlated with white matter hyperintensities,” stated study authors Mark I. Boulos, MD, a neurologist, and Brian Murray, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology and Sleep Medicine, both at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
The researchers used polysomnography to assess 45 patients (69% male; mean age, 64) for sleep problems in a tertiary care behavioral neurology clinic. Patients’ white matter hyperintensity was rated with the Age Related White Matter Changes (ARWMC) score from fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) MRI.
The study’s results showed a mean ARWMC score of 3.84 (range, 0 to 25), and the investigators found no differences in ARWMC scores between left and right brain hemispheres, though more limb movements were observed on the left side of the body (66.3), compared with the right side of the body (24.1). “This appears to be a fundamental asymmetry, much like handedness,” commented Dr. Murray.