Getting good sleep is important to your health. Adults should get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep every single night. Of course, getting the sleep that you need isn’t always as simple as lying down for bed at 10 p.m. and setting your alarm for 6 a.m. Background noise from a television, the buzz and ding of a text alert, and stress over work can get in the way of sleep. Sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome, can also make it difficult for people to get adequate rest.
What is restless leg syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome is more than just fidgeting. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that causes pain, discomfort, “creeping”, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs. This causes a sometimes uncontrollable urge to move the legs to relieve the discomfort. These symptoms usually start in the moments before sleep, but can increase in severity throughout the night.
Restless leg syndrome can make it difficult for people to fall asleep, or to stay asleep. This can lead to inadequate sleep and can cause exhaustion, trouble concentrating, and other issues associated with lack of sleep. While RLS more common in adults, it can affect children as well.
Restless leg syndrome is sometimes associated with abnormalities in the neurotransmitter dopamine or genetic components. RLS is sometimes associated with vitamin deficiencies. In most cases, however, the cause of Restless leg syndrome is unknown.
Managing restless leg syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is a chronic condition that can cause symptoms for a few years or last an entire lifetime. Typically, people with RLS must learn to manage their symptoms.
This can involve things such as:
- Giving up tobacco
- Decreasing alcohol consumption
- Consuming less caffeine
- Enjoying a balanced and healthy diet
- Establishing a regular sleep routine
- Taking iron supplements
- Hot baths before bed and rest
- Regular exercise
- Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, massage, or acupuncture
Medications are also sometimes used to help manage restless leg syndrome.
People experience restless leg syndrome differently. The causes and symptoms can vary from person to person. Talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist if you’re dealing with restless leg syndrome.