Nightmares in PTSD
by Meir H. Kryger, M.D.
The National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America poll will focus on Exercise and Sleep. We asked the experts on the poll task force to tell us more about important exercise and sleep topics and the research behind them.
Julie Flygare, JD
How Much Sleep Do Adults Need?
Each one of us has a unique sleep requirement. Our sleep need depends upon genetic and physiological factors and also varies by age, sex, and previous sleep amounts. However, a simple definition of sufficient sleep is a sleep duration that is followed by a spontaneous awakening and leaves one feeling refreshed and alert for the day.
How is RLS treated? For many people with RLS, prevention is the first step towards managing symptoms. People may work with their health care professional to develop a variety of lifestyle changes and activities to reduce symptoms. This can include decreasing caffeine, alcohol and tobacco intake; taking iron supplements; maintaining a regular sleep pattern; developing an exercise routine; taking a hot bath; massaging the legs or using a heating pad or ice pack.
How do I know if I have RLS? While there are no lab tests to diagnose RLS, your heath care professional may be able to make an official diagnosis given your responses to several simple questions about your symptoms. These include:
The symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are often difficult to put into words, as each person’s experience with RLS is different. Some people use comparisons, such as "like ants crawling through my legs" or "like soda running through my veins" to try to describe the symptoms and feelings to their heath care professionals. If you answer "yes" to many of the following questions,8 you may have RLS and should talk to your health care professional about your symptoms:
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is like a fingerprint; everyone's experience with it is unique. Some people call RLS the "frantic muscles" or "jitters." Some people may describe it as aching, tingling sensations deep within their legs, while others may say they feel like lightning is running through their veins. Descriptions such as creeping, crawling, or tugging are also very common words used by people with RLS. While symptoms vary from person to person, they are always accompanied by a strong urge to move the legs.
RLS is a serious condition that has affected people for many years, but it has not always been taken seriously, and is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Approximately 10 percent of American adults1 suffer from this neurological sensorimotor disorder, which causes uncomfortable and sometimes painful tingling, and tugging sensations in the legs. People with RLS often feel as though they have to move their legs, by walking or stretching, in order to make the uncomfortable feelings go away.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The "apnea" in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe. Another form of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, in which the brain fails to properly control breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more common than central sleep apnea.