Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus

Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus

Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus (BNSM) is a non-epileptic movement disorder that affects newborns during sleep. It is characterized by rhythmic, involuntary jerking of the body or limbs that occurs during sleep, and it is considered a benign condition. Although it can be alarming for parents to witness their newborns experiencing these movements, it is not a serious medical condition and usually resolves on its own without any treatment.

In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment of BNSM, and provide you with valuable information to help you understand and manage this condition.

What is Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus?

Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus (BNSM) is a movement disorder that occurs during sleep in newborns. It is a rare condition that affects only a small percentage of newborns. BNSM is characterized by rhythmic, involuntary jerking of the body or limbs that occurs during sleep. These movements usually last for a few seconds and may occur multiple times throughout the night. They typically start within the first few days of life and can last up to six months.

BNSM is not considered a serious medical condition, and it does not cause any long-term harm to the baby. The movements are not associated with seizures or any other neurological conditions. However, the condition can be distressing for parents, who may worry that their baby is experiencing pain or discomfort.

Causes of Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus

The exact cause of BNSM is unknown, but it is thought to be related to the immaturity of the baby’s nervous system. During the first few weeks of life, a baby’s nervous system is still developing, and the pathways that control movement are not fully developed. This can lead to spontaneous muscle contractions during sleep, which is manifested as BNSM.

Symptoms of Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus

Neonatal sleep myoclonus typically presents as jerky or twitchy movements during sleep. These movements can occur in any part of the baby’s body and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Irregular breathing
  • Rapid eye movements
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Brief awakenings

It is important to note that these movements are not usually harmful and do not require any treatment. However, if you are concerned about your baby’s movements during sleep, you should consult with your pediatrician.

Risk Factors

Potential risk factors that may increase a baby’s likelihood of experiencing neonatal sleep myoclonus, such as prematurity or low birth weight.

Diagnosing Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus

BNSM is typically diagnosed based on the baby’s clinical history and a physical examination. The doctor will ask about the baby’s symptoms and any family history of movement disorders. They will also perform a neurological examination to rule out any other underlying conditions.

In some cases, the doctor may order an electroencephalogram (EEG) to rule out seizures. An EEG is a test that measures the electrical activity in the brain. It can help determine whether the movements are caused by seizures or BNSM.

Treatment of Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus

In most cases, neonatal sleep myoclonus does not require any treatment. However, if your baby’s movements are causing them to wake up frequently during the night, your pediatrician may recommend making changes to your baby’s sleep environment, such as using a swaddle or white noise machine, to promote more restful sleep.

Tips for Managing

Practical tips for managing neonatal sleep myoclonus, such as establishing a consistent bedtime routine or using a baby monitor to ease anxiety.


Is benign neonatal sleep myoclonus normal?

Yes, it is a common occurrence in healthy infants and does not typically indicate any neurological issues. However, some studies have found that babies with benign neonatal sleep myoclonus may have hyperexcitability or abnormal muscle tone. You can view the source for more information.

Does benign myoclonus of infancy go away?

Benign spasms of infancy, which were previously referred to as benign non-epileptic infantile spasms or benign myoclonus of early infancy, are movements that occur in babies during their first year of life and disappear on their own by the time they reach their second year of life. These movements are not related to epilepsy.

Does myoclonus affect the brain?

Myoclonic seizures can impact either or both hemispheres of the brain. If the seizures affect only one hemisphere, it results in one-sided symptoms. On the other hand, if both sides of the brain are affected, it causes more severe symptoms on both sides of the body.

When does the sleep myoclonus stop?

The analysis of the group revealed that myoclonic jerks were present within the initial 16 days (with a median of 3 days) regardless of other factors. These jerks were primarily seen at the onset of sleep and resolved spontaneously within the first 10 months (with a median of 2 months) of life.

How do you treat myoclonus naturally?

Exercising may lead to more muscle twitching, but it can also provide a plausible explanation for the twitching that does not involve disease. By frequently exercising, it is feasible to deceive the brain, which may result in less concern about the muscle twitches experienced.

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