Home > Disorders & Problems > Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome

By: Wendy Jacob - Updated: 30 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Breathing Techniques Iron Magnesium

Most people are familiar with the occasional involuntary muscle movement. It is not unusual to experience a sudden jerky movement just as you are falling asleep. These are known as hypnic jerks or sleep starts and may wake you out of a light sleep.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder where sufferers experience movement and unpleasant sensations in the legs during the evening or when falling asleep. Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) involves the rhythmic extension of the big toe and movement of the ankle, knee and hip. They are often seen with other sleep disorders, specifically Narcolepsy and REM Sleep Behaviour Disorders.

RLS is probably the most frequent movement disorder, although it often remains undiagnosed and under treated. Restless Leg Syndrome was considered to be a fairly rare condition until fairly recent research showed that many people from different age groups suffer from the condition.

RLS affects more women than men and affects all age groups, although it increases with advancing age. If there is a family connection, symptoms are likely to present before the age of 20. There is some evidence that it is higher in specific populations. Sufferers of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and children experiencing 'growing pains' are more likely to suffer from the disorder.

Sleep Apnea

RLS often accompanies the sleep breathing disorder, Sleep Apnea. This is often treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure which helps the sufferer breath during sleep. Research has shown that the treatment fails to affect the symptoms of RLS and in some cases the symptoms have even increased.

RLS syndrome has also been connected with kidney disease and pregnancy.

Although it may accompany some sleep disorders it may also affect those who are healthy and unaffected by sleep problems.

Symptoms that start during the evening may interfere with sleep. As the sufferer can only relieve the discomfort by moving or walking they may delay going to bed or need to get up to walk around. This means that they may experience difficulty getting to, or staying asleep. Although many people do not suffer from any problems during the day, it is important that sufferers get sufficient sleep.

Symptoms and Treatment

The main symptom of RLS is the uncontrollable urge to move and unpleasant sensations in the legs. They are usually worse in the evening and at night, and can be relieved by moving.

There is no clear evidence of what causes the condition. Some experts suggest a connection between the disorder and the Circadian Rhythms that influence sleep and waking. Researchers are currently looking into the connection of Dopamine and the spinal cord. There has been a good response to treatment with dopaminergic drugs. It is believed that the role of Dopamine is connected to the evidence that dopamine is at its lowest level in the body during the night when the symptoms are at their worst.

Natural Supplements

One study into insomnia and RLS has shown that these conditions may be related to low levels of magnesium. Magnesium levels may be low in the body due to stress or too much sugar. Supplements may be taken in the evening and magnesium is found in nuts, seeds, green vegetables and seafood.

Iron supplements may also be recommended.

Learning Breathing Techniques and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and heavy exercise in the hours before bedtime will help sufferers relax and return to sleep.

It is important that those experiencing symptoms of RLS are correctly diagnosed. They may be accompanied by other sleep related disorders which could be helped with treatment or therapy. Sufferers may delay going to bed or find it difficult getting to sleep knowing that the discomfort may start at any time. By learning how to relax, taking nutritional advice and avoiding alcohol they may be able to improve their quality of sleep.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Exhausted
    Re: Involuntary Jerking While Asleep, What Could it be?
    My husband has been twitching and jerking at roughly 20 second intervals since before we were…
    17 June 2019
  • Doris
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    Some nights I get so cold even wake up cold. I mean terribly cold to the bone. Can’t get warm even with covers etc. what could be…
    22 April 2019
  • Diane
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    My solution for being cold was an electric mattress cover. Turn on about an hour before bedtime, then shut off. If I go to bed cold, I…
    12 April 2019
  • George S
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    I have the same problem as Adrienne (who commented above) and I have been through a series of medical tests and procedures with no…
    2 April 2019
  • Susy
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    This is interesting! I have found that if I do not drink enough water , at least 1,5 liters during the day, I cannot go to sleep. I…
    26 March 2019
  • julie
    Re: Coughing and Sleep Loss
    Hi I had a cold on Sunday, it started with hit and cold feeling changing every hour, I started taking paracetamol fir it. Before going to…
    14 March 2019
  • Adrienne
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    Why do i get cold at nights? While in day I'm normal? It's been 1 week now after my first encounter about this and I'm worried. Last…
    5 March 2019
  • Ukung
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    While sleeping I feel extreme cold and need two three blankets. My husband, who is on insulin, swets. How can I get rid of this? While…
    15 February 2019
  • steve jaubert
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    Hello, I read a recent email from Dr Carolyn Dean who is involved with marketing products for Magnesium deficiencies. She does have…
    2 November 2018
  • Princess lynn
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    I have tried all of them but for me they don’t work. And I am home alone. My heating is on but I am still cold. What should I do?
    27 October 2018