Sleep Disorders, Sleep Remedies & Insomnia Relief


What is Restless Leg Syndrome? What Can You Do?

Restless Leg Syndrome is a sleep disorder and condition that causes individuals to feel a crawling sensation in their limbs, most commonly in their calves, ankles, and across their trunk. Sometimes Restless Leg Syndrome can cause the sufferer considerable discomfort, causing a throbbing and even stinging sensation in the leg muscles. Sufferers of Restless Leg Syndrome have also described feeling a tingling, creeping, and pulling feeling across their legs and trunks. Most symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome are felt during periods of extended inactivity, such as when long periods of sitting or lying down. Most of the time, sufferers will experience symptoms at nighttime, thus the syndrome's classification as a sleep disorder. Some people will experience symptoms in only one leg, and others will experience them in both. In rare cases, individuals may experience the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome in their arms.

Most symptoms become intensified at night, particularly at the beginning of a sleep cycle. Most people experience a reduction in symptoms in the early morning hours. When the legs are at rest, the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome become more pronounced. The distraction and pain of the symptoms cause sufferers to move their legs in an effort to ease pain and find relief, thus the description of 'restless legs'. Obviously, Restless Leg Syndrome can disrupt a person's sleep significantly. Indeed, Restless Leg Syndrome almost always results in some degree of insomnia. The presence of irritating sensations and pain, and the involuntary movement and jerking of legs can make getting a good night's sleep almost impossible, and can result in daytime fatigue.

What causes Restless Leg Syndrome? Although the cause of this condition remains unknown, it seems to run in families. Research shows that Restless Leg Syndrome is more common in groups of people with certain deficiencies. People with anemia and iron deficiencies are more likely to suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome. Pregnant women may also be more susceptible to this condition. In addition, people who are obese, smokers, people who suffer from diabetes, heavy coffee drinkers, and arthritis sufferers may also be more vulnerable to developing Restless Leg Syndrome.

Other perhaps more serious conditions that may also be associated with Restless Leg Syndrome include nerve diseases, hormone diseases, kidney disorders, and polyneuropahty. Some prescription drugs have also been linked to the onset of Restless Leg Syndrome, including certain antidepressant drugs, as well as Zantac and Tagamet. Restless Leg Syndrome may appear in people of all ages, although it appears to be more common in older individuals. Restless Leg Syndrome is also thought to affect children who may be experiencing "growing pains." These children are often mislabeled as hyperactive due to their restlessness. It does appear that Restless Leg Syndrome tends to develop slowly, with symptoms growing in intensity over time.

Another sleep disorder that is often confused with Restless Leg Syndrome is known as Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep (also known as PLMS). PLMS involves involuntary movement, both bending and jerking, of the legs during the course of a night's sleep. People who suffer from PLMS may experience movement of the legs every 10 to 60 seconds. Unlike Restless Leg Syndrome, PLMS occurs while the individual is asleep, although the constant movement may cause them to wake throughout the night.

Treating Restless Leg Syndrome is often difficult because there is no definitive cure. The first step toward treating Restless Leg Syndrome is to search for any underlying causes. If you suspect you have Restless Leg Syndrome, your medical professional will conduct blood tests to reveal if you have an iron deficiency and/or anemia. Your doctor will also work to rule out any other possible causes for your symptoms. Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake, especially before bedtime, can help ease the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. If you are a smoker, you can drastically reduce your smoking or quit altogether and help reduce Restless Leg Syndrome significantly. Practicing good sleep hygiene and getting some form of daily exercise are also important to keep the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome under control.

If your case of Restless Leg Syndrome is severe enough, your doctor may recommend certain medications. The most common medications prescribed for the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome include ropinirole, gabapentin, and tramdol. Other non-prescription options include electric nerve stimulation, acupuncture, and ingesting oral magnesium.

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