Medical Questions > Mental Health > Sleep Disorders Forum

Facial muscle contractions while falling asleep! Neurological?

I am 25 years old, overweight and live a sedentary life with an extremely low stress job (will work on fixing that soon). I have a family history of diabetes and heart disease (of which I am a prime candidate but so far have been lucky). I have no health insurance, unfortunately, and have been experiencing something in sleep that is cause for alarm.

For the longest time I've noticed my legs twitching in sleep. Googling the problem pointed me toward PLMD, which I understand to be a common and benign problem.

Lately, however, I've had different muscle problems while falling asleep. Every few days (seemingly irregular but with increasing frequency) at the moment where I am about to fall asleep, the corners of my mouth are pulled down by my facial muscles to the point where I am full-on frowning. It's completely 100% involuntary and I maintain full awareness and consciousness of it. It occurs for about 60-80 seconds before subsiding (about as long as I take to fully "wake up").

During that time, since I'm not totally asleep yet, I can move my hand over the affected area and feel that the muscles at the corners of my mouth are very tense. This has never happened before. I am used to my legs twitching while I fall asleep but this is completely new. It started on November 7, 2011 and has happened about a half-dozen times since the first occurrence, including this morning.

It may also be worth mentioning that for a 3 or 4 day period my right eye was twitching almost constantly throughout the day. My eye twitches every now and then but never over consecutive days. These days occurred around the same time the facial spasms began.

I should also mention I have worked the night shift at my low stress job for the past 5 years. Within the last 5 months I have gone from working three nights a week to a full 40 hour Monday-Friday work week. Several changes have been instituted at work and while it has remained a low stress environment, I am curious if the stress of change has brought on these muscle spasms. Although, that doesn't seem too likely as my job was more stressful when I worked three shifts per week.

I am starting to get concerned that this problem may be neurological. On one occasion I noticed my foot twitch while I fell asleep (much more violently than my usual PLMD). And on another day my left hand closed into a fist seemingly involuntarily (I can't say I'm sure it was involuntary, I may have done it myself while falling asleep).

I've been tracking my sleep patterns since I started working full time. On average I sleep 6.6 hours a day with an average of 4.4 hours per sleep session. Those averages are based on the last 123 days of tracking my sleep patterns.

Thank you for reading. Like I said, this is a growing concern for me, especially with my lack of health insurance. If someone here can shed some light on this, I would greatly appreciate it.
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replied December 18th, 2011
For the first time, it's been happening for 3 consecutive days. Occasionally it has made my eye brows furrow (also while falling asleep). Today my face frowned involuntarily after waking up briefly in the middle of my sleep period.

Does anyone know what this is and if it should be cause for concern!? It's beginning to worry me and since I don't have health insurance I don't know what I should do.
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