Learn What Restless Legs Syndrome Is and How It Affects Your Sleep

Have you ever been a Restless Legs Syndrome victim, or have you heard about it?

How restless legs syndrome can affect your sleep

You may have felt an irresistible urge or strong desire to move your legs or kick them while you lay in bed. This is especially true if it keeps you awake at night or wakes you up. This urge may be accompanied by an uncomfortable or itchy feeling. Restless Legs Syndrome is a condition that causes you to feel tired or restless.

Although Restless Legs Syndrome is not dangerous, it could signify that you have a more severe condition. If left untreated, Restless Legs Syndrome can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. It can cause daytime sleepiness and sleep disorders such as insomnia. In fact, nearly 90% of those with Restless Legs Syndrome also have at least one sleep-related condition.

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is also known as Willis Ekbom Disease. It is a neurological disorder in which a person feels an uncontrollable urge or feeling to move their legs.

RLS is most commonly characterized by a painful sensation in the lower limbs. This can be described as an uncomfortable, itching, creeping, or throbbing feeling. RLS sufferers often move their legs constantly to relieve or prevent discomfort. This is why Restless Legs Syndrome’s “restless” name was created.

RLS can cause a painful sensation and subsequent movement, making it challenging to get a good night’s sleep. The symptoms usually appear when the body is relaxed or after a long period. Nighttime is when symptoms tend to get worse.

The compulsion to move your legs can negatively affect your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Restless Legs Syndrome can be associated with other severe conditions such as:

People with RLS often also suffer from PLMD, a condition known as Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. This condition is similar to RLS in that a patient will compulsively move limbs while sleeping, but it doesn’t cause the pain associated with Restless Legs Syndrome. Many PLMD patients don’t realize they’re driving at night. However, they may be awakened by their movements.

What causes restless legs syndrome?

Although most people with Restless Legs Syndrome experience the symptoms, it is more common in adults. Primary RLS is a term that describes cases of RLS without a known cause. Restless Legs Syndrome may also be a result of a genetic factor. Patients with a history of RLS have a higher likelihood of RLS developing at an earlier age, 45 years or less.

Secondary RLS is a term for cases of Restless Legs Syndrome with an identifiable cause. Secondary RLS can be caused by conditions such as iron deficiency, peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage beyond the brain and spinal cord.

RLS can also be caused by pregnancy. However, these symptoms don’t last and usually disappear after delivery.

THE BASICS

Treatment options for Restless Legs Syndrome

RLS sufferers can receive a variety of medications. These include iron or magnesium supplements, anti-seizure medicines, Gabapentin Enacarbil, and other benzodiazepines. Although medication is sometimes necessary for more severe cases, you can also make lifestyle changes to improve your chances of getting the restful sleep you desire.

1. Reduce your intake of Caffeine and Alcohol

You’ve probably been around coffee for a while and know that alcohol or caffeine too late can disrupt your sleep. Caffeine’s stimulant effect keeps us awake, while alcohol can cause snoring and more severe sleep disorders such as insomnia, circadian rhythm abnormalities, short sleep duration, and other sleep disorders.

The Essentials of Sleep

Many lifestyle factors can be modified to reduce your risk of developing RLS. For example, you may consume caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

Lifestyle choices that promote a healthy lifestyle have an effect on RLS and the likelihood of developing it. Participants who exercised regularly maintained a healthy weight and drank alcohol were less likely to create Restless Legs Syndrome. There was actually a correlation between healthy lifestyle choices and lower RLS risk.

2. Proper sleep hygiene

A good sleep hygiene routine can make a big difference in your sleep quality and help you manage your RLS symptoms. There are a few things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Every day wake up and go to bed at the same time.
  • Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, and makes positive changes necessary. Comfortable, supportive mattresses should be a priority. You should replace your mattress every ten years.
  • You should turn off all electronic devices (including phones and computers) at least one hour before you go to bed.
  • Relax before you go to bed. A warm bath or a shower can help relieve Restless Legs Syndrome symptoms.

3. Exercise

Regular, moderate exercise can not only make you look great but can also help you sleep well.

A study divided 28 people suffering from RLS into two groups. One group received an exercise program, while the control group did not. The exercise group saw significant improvement in their symptoms after 12 weeks, as compared to the controls, who did not see any improvement.

It is essential to avoid exercising too close to bedtime. This can make it more difficult to fall asleep. To get your body moving and feeling energized, exercise earlier in the morning or in the early hours of the morning.

You should consult your doctor if your RLS symptoms may contribute to a sleeping disorder or worsen an underlying condition such as sleep apnea. These specialists can help you arrange a sleep study to determine your treatment options. This tool from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine can help you find accredited sleep specialists near you.

Don’t be discouraged if you fidget at your bedside every now and again. Fidgeting is an acceptable and temporary response to daily stimuli. RLS can make it challenging to get a good night of sleep, but it doesn’t have to. Restlessness can be easily replaced if you can correctly identify and treat the problem.

 

Conclusion

To summarize, Restless Legs Syndrome is a condition that causes you to feel tired or restless. This condition is similar to RLS in that a patient will compulsively move limbs while sleeping, but it doesn’t cause the pain associated with Restless Legs Syndrome. Caffeine’s stimulant effect keeps us awake, while alcohol can cause snoring and more severe sleep disorders such as insomnia, circadian rhythm abnormalities, short sleep duration, and other sleep disorders.

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