Unlike some other common sleep disorders, RLS or Restless Leg Syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects a person during an unlikely time, while resting. RLS is characterized by an unpleasant feeling, sometimes throbbing pain, a pulling or tugging sensation, all which seem to be uncontrollable. To further look into how RLS affects people, it is a disorder where a person has an uncontrollable urge to move their legs. Instances when RLS can occur are most commonly found to be at night, while lying still in bed and getting ready to sleep. This disorder can pose health concerns not only for the person who is suffering with RLS, but also for anyone who shares a bed with them.
We all know sleep is essential to a productive day and better health, but what happens when quality sleep is out of your control? It can be hard to cope with fatigue and exhaustion, especially if you are not the person suffering from RLS. This disorder may sound humorous, but it is not at all funny.
In order to be officially diagnosed with RLS, you must meet particular criteria. Here is an excerpt found on the RLS Foundation website:
- You have a strong urge to move your legs which you may not be able to resist. The need to move is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. Some words used to describe these sensations include: creeping, itching, pulling, creepy-crawly, tugging, or gnawing.
- Your RLS symptoms start or become worse when you are resting. The longer you are resting, the greater the chance the symptoms will occur and the more severe they are likely to be.
- Your RLS symptoms get better when you move your legs. The relief can be complete or only partial, but generally starts very soon after starting an activity. Relief persists as long as the motor activity continues.
- Your RLS symptoms are worse in the evening especially when you are lying down. Activities that bother you at night do not bother you during the day.
RLS is classified as a movement disorder and affects approximately 2-3 percent of adults, and around 5 percent found to suffer from a milder form of RLS. People who suffer from RLS can frequently wake during sleep if the sensation or urge becomes too painful or overpowering. A person suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome will also commonly toss and turn, as slight movement will relieve discomfort and the person can readjust their sleeping position to fall asleep more easily.
Finding a cure for RLS can be difficult, as no single medication can manage RLS effectively for all individuals. Changes in a person’s lifestyle and daily routines have found to help alleviate some symptoms, but this is only to relieve the milder symptoms. Medication is prescribed to help combat more painful onsets, but may lose its effectiveness over time.
To better understand the causes of your sleep disturbances, a sleep study may be needed to help diagnose if another sleep disorder may be also attributing to your lack of quality sleep. See your primary care physician if you feel RLS may be keeping you from a better night’s sleep.