You know that feeling. You’re lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, when suddenly your legs start feeling twitchy and uneasy. You begin to feel an irresistible urge to move them. Still, no matter how much you give in to the movement, it only provides temporary relief. If this sounds familiar, you may have a condition known as restless leg syndrome (RLS), and your sleep is probably being affected.
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by these uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them. RLS can occur at any time, but it is most common at night when trying to sleep. Researchers have found that 88% of individuals diagnosed with RLS have insomnia, fatigue or other sleep-related problems.Get Comfortable with Quality Bed Linens
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?
Research has focused on dopamine and glutamate neurotransmitters as possible causes of RLS. Dopamine is involved in motor control, and a deficiency may cause the involuntary leg movements associated with RLS. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, and an imbalance toward excess may contribute to the sensation of discomfort in the legs and trouble with sleep.
Some known risk factors can increase your chances of developing the condition. These include:
- Age – RLS is more common in middle-aged adults and older seniors.
- Family history – If someone in your family has RLS, you may be more likely to develop the condition yourself.
- Chronic diseases – People with certain chronic health conditions like diabetes or iron deficiency anemia are at higher risk for RLS.
- Pregnancy – Up to 20 percent of women experience RLS during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. The good news is that RLS often goes away after delivery.
Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
The primary symptom of restless leg syndrome is an irresistible urge to move your legs. This sensation typically occurs in both legs and can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. The desire to move is often worse when resting or lying down, which is why the condition can interfere with sleep.
Other symptoms of RLS include:
- A pins-and-needles sensation in the legs
- Burning or itching sensations in the legs
- Cramping or throbbing sensations in the legs
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may come and go over time. In some cases, they may only occur sporadically. However, they generally worsen with age and can become more constant over time.Find the Perfect Mattress for Better Sleep
Treatment Options for Restless Legs
There is no known cure for restless leg syndrome. Still, various treatment options can help temporarily ease its symptoms. These include medications like dopaminergic drugs or anticonvulsants, iron supplements if you have iron deficiency anemia and compression stockings or massages if you have vascular disease.
In some cases, lifestyle changes like exercising regularly or reducing alcohol consumption may also help lessen the symptoms of RLS. You may also want to consider therapies like massages and practicing stress-relieving activities like meditation or yoga.
It’s best to consult your doctor to find out which treatment option is best for you.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep with Restless Legs
It can be tough to get a good night’s sleep when dealing with restless leg syndrome symptoms. However, there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
Ensuring that your bed is comfortable and supporting you properly is a crucial first step to getting a good night’s sleep. This means finding a mattress that is neither too soft nor too firm and using bedding pillows that keep your spine aligned. Pillow top mattresses are popular among RLS sufferers because they provide good support without being too firm.
You can also upgrade your bed frame. Adjustable beds provide relief for many with RLS, as they allow you to adjust the position of your legs and body to take pressure off them and improve circulation. This can relieve the tingling, discomfort and pain associated with restless leg syndrome and help you get the restful sleep you need.
Living with restless leg syndrome can be challenging, but there are things you can do to ease your symptoms and manage the condition overall. If you think you may have RLS, talk to your doctor about treatment options and management strategies that could work for you. In addition, making adjustments to your sleep environment can also help you get the restful sleep you need to feel your best.