Restless Legs Syndrome

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological syndrome where feelings of restlessness or tingling sensations in the legs can make  sleep initiation and sleep maintenance very difficult.

The core symptom of RLS is an irresistible urge to continually move and stretch the legs in an attempt to reduce the uncomfortable sensations described by sufferers as feeling ‘tingly’, ‘creepy’, ‘crawly’ or even ‘numb’.  Occasionally there are also unusual leg movements associated with trying to keep the legs still where the greater the effort used to keep them still, the stronger the urge to move them. Symptoms are generally worse of an evening or when relaxing.

While the cause of RLS is not clear, there is some evidence associating numerous medical conditions including diabetes, iron deficiency, kidney disease, nerve damage, pregnancy, OSA and CSA.

A range of medication is available to treat RLS. Speaking with your GP or Sleep Physician for advise on the medication best suited to your condition is advised.

Non-pharmaceutical treatments or behaviour changes can also be effective in reducing the symptoms of RLS.

These include:

  • Increasing physical activity during the day
  • Decreasing physical activity before bedtime
  • Maintaining good sleep hygiene
  • Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake in the evening

As RLS is often associated with OSA and CSA and effective treatment of these generally improves the symptoms of RLS.