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.
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’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.
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.
In some cases, inadequate levels of iron in your blood, or anemia, can account for some of your RLS symptoms.
Many researchers are now studying a possible dysfunction in your brain’s processing of dopamine, the substance responsible for smooth muscle activity.
Certain triggers are said to lead to or exacerbate restless leg syndrome, such as:
In many cases, RLS is linked to other factors, including:
As you age, your RLS symptoms are likely to worsen.
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.
Your Sound Sleep Health specialist will likely give you an array of tests to rule out other medical conditions.
Call or book online to visit the Sound Sleep Health team and start experiencing the sleep you deserve.