Restless leg syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom disease, is a disorder characterized by a strong desire to move the legs during resting and sleeping.
Symptoms of unpleasant feelings in the legs, such as tingling, burning, and hurting, cause you to move around to relieve the sensations, especially while sleeping. The feeling is usually exacerbated in the evening or at night.
You can fall asleep with restless legs by making certain lifestyle changes.
10 ways to fall asleep with restless legs
- Relax before bedtime: Relaxing yourself with a soothing night ritual may relieve restless legs. Try reading a book in bed or listening to soft music or taking a hot bath before bed will help you relax.
- Stretch before bed: Yoga, Pilates, and other stretching practices can frequently assist to relax both the mind and the body.
- Avoid stimulants: Consumption of stimulants, such as coffee or any beverage that contains caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine, should be avoided because they can exacerbate restless legs syndrome (RLS).
- Avoid electronics: The blue light from screens stimulates your brain and suppresses sleep hormones, so it is recommended to avoid using electronics one to two hours before bedtime.
- Maintain optimum temperature: You tend to fall asleep faster in rooms that are dark, quiet, and cool. So, always keep your room well ventilated and slightly on the cooler side.
- Stick to a sleep schedule: By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you can help your body's normal sleep patterns. You must follow a sleep schedule even during weekends.
- Sleep with a pillow between legs: Sleeping with a cushion between your legs may be an option. It may provide comfort and support to your legs resulting in fewer overnight RLS symptoms.
- Iron supplements: Iron deficiency may cause restless legs syndrome even when you do not have anemia. Once your doctor confirms that you have lower iron levels, you may be prescribed iron supplements.
- Dopamine agonists: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved dopamine agonists pramipexole and rotigotine to treat RLS. Dopamine agonists limit the urge to move, relieve sensory complaints in the legs, and reduce involuntary leg jerks during sleeping.
- Other drugs: Medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid issues, and others, can cause restless legs syndrome. Treating these conditions with appropriate medications and keeping them under control may prevent flare-ups of RLS.
Muscle relaxants, opioids, and sleep medications may relieve pain and help you get good sleep.
What is restless leg syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. The arms are occasionally affected as well.
Leg discomfort and cramps are additional symptoms of the disorder, which can induce a creeping or crawling feeling in the feet, calves, and thighs.
- Some people have restless legs syndrome symptoms rarely, whereas others experience them daily.
- The severity of the symptoms may range from minor to severe.
- Severe cases of RLS may be extremely distressing and disturb a person's daily activities.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, restless legs syndrome affects about 10 percent of adults and two percent of children in the United States. Women are affected with restless legs syndrome more often than men.
The symptoms of RLS may occur once a day, month, or year. Though the symptoms of this condition may worsen and bother you in many ways, no scientific proof suggests that it can cause any serious medical illness so far.
What are the complications of restless leg syndrome?
Because restless legs syndrome (RLS) flares up during rest, the sensations urge you to move your legs constantly all through the night. You may get fewer hours of sleep each night if you have RLS.
- Many people with severe instances of RLS sleep for fewer than five hours every night.
- Milder instances or RLS do not disrupt your sleep as much; however, it can still result in a poor quality of sleep.
The accumulated sleep loss from restless legs syndrome can leave you drowsy during the day, irritated, and make concentrating difficult. This may have a significant influence on both your work and personal life.
People who suffer from restless legs syndrome are more prone to suffer from depression or anxiety.
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Cleveland Clinic. Restless Legs Syndrome. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9497-restless-legs-syndrome
Pacheco D. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/restless-legs-syndrome
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