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Sleep. 1996 Apr;19(3):200-4.

Periodic K-alpha sleep EEG activity and periodic limb movements during sleep: comparisons of clinical features and sleep parameters.

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University of Toronto, Centre for Sleep and Chronobiology, Toronto Hospital (Western Division), Ontario, Canada.


The K-alpha sleep electroencephalographic (EEG) phenomenon is characterized by periodic (approximately 20-40 seconds) K-complexes, immediately followed by alpha-EEG activity (7.5-11 Hz) of 0.5- to 5.0-second duration. A group of 14 subjects with the periodic K-alpha anomaly was found to have a similar distribution pattern of interevent intervals as compared with previously published data for sleep-related periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS). Sleep parameters and somatic symptoms of 30 patients with K-alpha were compared with 30 patients with PLMS. The periodic K-alpha group was predominantly female, younger, exhibiting more slow-wave sleep, gastrointestinal symptoms and muscular complaints and fewer movement arousals on overnight polysomnography. The K-alpha group presented uniformly with complaints of unrefreshing sleep, often associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The PLMS group was predominantly male, showed greater sleep disruption and presented with a variety of sleep-related symptoms.

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