SLEEP DISORDERS: RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME (RLS)
Restless legs syndrome can be extremely disruptive for you and your partner when you’re trying to sleep. Many people are unfamiliar with what this sleep disorder really is or how it came to be, understandably so. Luckily, there are a few methods to try to achieve a more pleasant overnight experience. Read on to learn more about restless legs syndrome and what you can do to combat it.
WHAT IS RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME?
Restless legs syndrome, also referred to as Willis-Ekbom disease, is an uncomfortable sensation in the leg muscles. It usually occurs when you’re sitting or lying down, causing an urge to move the legs. Some individuals may experience this in their arms or other parts of the body as well.
The sensation is described as an itch, tickle, the feeling of pins and needles, and even tiny electric shocks. An estimated 10% of the American population is affected by RLS, making it a very common sleep disorder.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME?
Often unrecognized or even misdiagnosed, it can be difficult to figure out how you got restless legs syndrome, with professionals still unsure of the exact cause. It may stem from genetics, physical or mental conditions, or even medications such as some antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, and antinausea drugs, to name a few.
RLS affects both genders, but occurs more often in women. It can appear at any age, with even some young children affected. However, people who are middle-aged or older tend to have more serious cases. Moreover, pregnant women may experience restless legs syndrome in their final trimester. The good news is that it’s temporary during the pregnancy. Typically, it goes away a month or so after giving birth.
We recommend scheduling an appointment with a medical professional if you think you may have RLS. However, it’s important to note that there’s no designated medical test to provide a diagnosis for this sleep disorder. Your doctor may opt to give you a blood test to double check your levels. However, their diagnosis will come from your answers to questions they ask in order to determine whether or not you have RLS. Severity will be assessed based on the frequency of symptoms, how much disturbance you’re experiencing, as well as how much relief is brought on by moving around.
HOW CAN I FIX MY RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME?
If you’re experiencing restless legs syndrome, you may be able to alleviate your symptoms with a few simple lifestyle changes. As always, whether you have RLS or not, we recommend aiming to achieve a balanced lifestyle of exercise, a healthy diet, and a nightly routine to encourage better sleep. It may also be time to look at changing your sleep environment by exploring different mattress materials or upgrading your sleep system for more comfort. Furthermore, cutting out or lowering your consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can significantly improve sleep quality, and therefore lessen the sensations produced by RLS. Other quick tips include stretching in the morning and evening, as well as only getting into bed once you’re ready to sleep.
If you’ve adjusted your lifestyle to prioritize your sleep and you’re still experiencing symptoms of restless legs syndrome, you can turn to your doctor for medication. While it won’t cure restless legs syndrome, you can expect to see a decrease in your symptoms. This will hopefully bring you to a point where you can sleep the night through despite having RLS.
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As your sleep experts, we know how crucial it is to get a good night’s rest. It makes you feel your best, and you get so much more out of your day when you’re not tired. Don’t let restless legs syndrome be the cause of any more bad sleeps in your life. Come in to one of our locations, let our trusted staff know about your sleep disorder, and allow us to recommend the best mattress or sleep accessory for your needs.
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