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Sleep Disorders

Restless Legs (RLS) and Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMS)

Approximately one in 10 American adults suffer from restless leg syndrome, or RLS, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This sleep-related movement disorder can cause sleep deprivation, fatigue, and even irritability and depression from the constant interruption of your sleep cycle. The Sound Sleep Health providers offer numerous treatments for RLS and can help you to find symptom relief and improve the quality of your sleep.

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What is restless leg syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a sleep-related disorder involving aching sensations in your limbs or other body parts. It’s fairly common, and while the name refers to the legs, the disorder can also affect other body parts such as the head, neck, and arms and even the trunk.

RLS is categorized as a sleep disorder because the symptoms worsen at night and during the evening, interrupting your sleep pattern and sleep quality. More severe cases of RLS have been linked to an increased risk for high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.

It can affect men, women, and children of all ages. RLS doesn’t always occur during sleep, but sometimes happens before sleep. It is common for RLS sufferers to have symptoms during plane flights or long automobile trips.

It’s important to distinguish between RLS and PLMS, or periodic limb movements, in sleep. While PLMS symptoms are similar to the twitching movements associated with RLS, with PLMS they only ever occur during sleep. RLS and PLMS are thought to be overlapping syndromes though not fully identical.

What causes restless legs syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome doesn’t have a definite cause, but many researchers suspect it might be an inherited neurological condition, and some genes have been linked to the condition. Some people develop symptoms after a back injury such as a herniated disc. Others may find that RLS develops in conjunction with a peripheral neuropathy or pinched nerve, such as sciatica.

In some cases, inadequate levels of iron in your blood, or anemia, can account for some of your RLS symptoms.

Your Sound Sleep Health specialist will likely give you an array of tests to rule out other medical conditions.

Many researchers are now studying a possible link between RLS and the brain’s processing of dopamine, the substance responsible for accurate, coordinated muscle activity.

Certain triggers are said to lead to or exacerbate restless leg syndrome, such as:

  • Inactivity
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Remaining in the same position for a long time, such as seated at a desk

In many cases, RLS is linked to other factors, including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications
  • Excess alcohol or caffeine consumption
  • Chronic diseases, such as kidney disease, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy

As you age, your RLS symptoms are likely to worsen.

What are the treatments for restless legs syndrome?

Treatments for RLS include medications to alleviate your symptoms and lifestyle changes to help you sleep better through the night. There are also at-home methods you can try, including exercise and massage, a warm bath, or an ice pack.

You could also try reducing your alcohol and caffeine intake, taking mineral supplements, such as magnesium and iron, before bed, and practicing meditation.

In some cases, your sleep specialist may prescribe special regimens of iron therapy or other prescription medications to alleviate the symptoms.

Call or book online to visit the Sound Sleep Health team and start experiencing the sleep you deserve.