Sleep Disorders Patient Education
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a serious, but treatable condition. The key to living with RLS is managing the symptoms. Lifestyle changes, like limiting caffeine and alcohol, taking iron supplements or a hot bath, or initiating an exercise plan, and seeing a heath care professional to discuss treatment options can help. Everyone experiences RLS differently, so it is important to work with your heath care professional to determine the best way for you to control your symptoms.
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.
What causes RLS? In July of 2007, researchers discovered a gene variant for RLS, which helps explain why it may be traced through generations in families. Researchers believe this gene increases one’s risk for a type of hereditary RLS, known as primary or familial RLS. Is there a cure for RLS? There is currently no cure for RLS. However, in most cases RLS symptoms can be controlled through lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medical treatments as appropriate.
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:
What is the RLS Symptom Diary? The RLS Symptom Diary is a convenient place to write down details about your daily symptoms, such as what time you first start to notice them and how long they last, and it is also a good way to keep track of the symptoms you experience. We have also created the RLS Symptom Diary Summary to help you pull together quickly what you have been experiencing. This may also help you to initiate the discussion with your health care professional about your symptoms, which is the first step to a diagnosis and being able to manage the condition.
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.
If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, or you wake up feeling unrefreshed, you may be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is a symptom. It may be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, disease, pain, medications, sleep disorders or poor sleep habits. Your sleep environment and health habits may also play a role in your sleep problems.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurologic sensorimotor disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs when they are at rest. The urge to move the legs is usually, but not always, accompanied by unpleasant sensations. It is less common but possible to have RLS symptoms in the arms, face, torso, and genital region. RLS symptoms occur during inactivity and they are temporarily relieved by movement or pressure. Symptoms of RLS are most severe in the evening and nighttime hours and can profoundly disrupt a patient's sleep and daily life.
For most people, dreams are purely a "mental" activity: they occur in the mind while the body is at rest. But people who suffer from REM behavior disorder (RBD) act out their dreams. They physically move limbs or even get up and engage in activities associated with waking. Some talk, shout, scream, hit, punch, or fly out of bed while sleeping! RBD is usually noticed when it causes danger to the sleeping person, their bed partner, or others they encounter. Sometimes ill effects such as injury to self or bed partner sustained while asleep trigger a diagnosis of RBD.