What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome
More often than not, the cause of RLS is a mystery. There may be a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger.
More than 40 percent of people with RLS have some family history of the condition. In fact, there are five gene variants associated with RLS. When it runs in the family, symptoms usually start before age 40.
There may be a connection between RLS and low levels of iron in the brain, even when blood tests show that your iron level is normal.
RLS may be linked to a disruption in the dopamine pathways in the brain. Parkinsons disease is also related to dopamine. That may explain why many people with Parkinsons also have RLS. Some of the same medications are used to treat both conditions. Research on these and other theories is ongoing.
Its possible that certain substances like caffeine or alcohol can trigger or intensify symptoms. Other potential causes include medications to treat:
Primary RLS isnt related to an underlying condition. But RLS can actually be an offshoot of another health problem, like neuropathy, diabetes, or kidney failure. When thats the case, treating the main condition may resolve RLS issues.
There are certain things that may put you in a higher risk category for RLS. But its uncertain if any of these factors actually cause RLS.
Some of them are:
Having RLS can affect your overall health and quality of life. If you have RLS and chronic sleep deprivation, you may be a higher risk of:
- heart disease
Things To Do For Twitchy Legs Relief When Pregnant
If youre dealing with unpleasant symptoms and are struggling to sleep, you may be desperate for some relief. The season of expecting can be stressful enough without the added worries that come with Restless Leg Syndrome. Its important to manage symptoms and reduce stress so you can focus on health for Mama and baby.
Maintain A Consistent Bedtime
Having a Routine Helps
Everyone, regardless of whether they have restless leg syndrome, slumbers better when they go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day. The body functions best when we stick to a schedule and have a predictable routine. Maintaining consistent sleep and wake times helps minimize fatigue and reduces your chances of experiencing the exhausting problems associated with this disorder. Aim to get at least 7 to 8 hours per night, or more if you need it. Then prioritize your life so you get the snooze time you need to keep restlessness at bay.
Helpful Bedtime Practices
Certain activities will help you drift off more easily. Sipping a cup of tea, taking a warm bath, and reading a relaxing book can help you wind down and fall asleep. Avoid reading anything too stimulating. Indulging in complex or frightening reading before bed may not be helpful. Another health tip is to avoid emotionally charged conversations in the evening. Emotional upset may prevent you from falling asleep and staying asleep.
Home Remedies To Stop The Restlessness Immediately
First, I would recommend completing any testing that your healthcare provider has recommended, and any abnormalities that are found should be corrected. The test provided by a medical healthcare provider is listed below. Hopefully, your testing has included an evaluation for vein disease. The first steps in stopping restless legs due to vein disease like venous insufficiency or pelvic vein compression are essentially home remedies and require no invasive procedures or conventional medications. They are as follows:
Iron Supplementation May Be All It Takes To Reduce Symptoms Of Restless Legs Syndrome But Many Doctors Don’t Know About It
People with restless legs syndrome experience an overwhelming need to move the legs, particularly at night or as they fall asleep. But a simple treatment that may help reduce RLS symptoms is often overlooked as a potential first line of defense.
“The concern is that people are being started on medications first when iron might be a valuable treatment. It’s simple, with relatively few side effects,” says Dr. John Winkelman, an RLS specialist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
- Research health conditions
- Prepare for a doctor’s visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Don’t Miss: How To Use Sleep Analysis On Iphone Health App
Abnormalities Of Iron Metabolism
Iron deficiency, even at a level too mild to cause anemia, has been linked to RLS in some people. Some research suggests that RLS in some people may be due to a problem with getting iron into cells that regulate dopamine in the brain. Some studies have reported RLS in a quarter to a third of people with low iron levels.
Tip : Improve Your Sleep
The symptoms of restless legs syndrome can make it hard to get to sleep. When youre sleep deprived, you not only feel terrible, but youre more vulnerable to stress. Stress and fatigue can worsen RLS, making it a vicious cycle, so doing what it takes to get enough sleep is crucial.
Try sleeping with a pillow between your legs. It may prevent nerves in your legs from compressing and result in fewer nighttime RLS symptoms.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your bodys natural sleep rhythms by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day .
Optimize your bedroom for sleep. Make sure the room is dark , quiet, and cool.
Wind down with a relaxing bedtime routine. Try curling up in bed with a book, listening to calming music, or taking a hot bath .
Power down electronics 1-2 hours before bed. The blue light from screens suppresses sleep-promoting hormones and stimulates your brain.
Keep a sleep diary of RLS symptoms
Logging changes in your diet, lifestyle, sleep habits, and routine might help you make helpful connections between your daily activities and the quality of your sleep at night..
Also Check: Is It Better To Sleep On Hard Surface
Relieving Restless Legs In The Moment
Sometimes, despite your best self-help efforts, the symptoms of restless legs flare up. The following tips will help you find quick relief:
Restless Leg Syndrome In Children
Children can experience the same tingling and pulling sensations in their legs as adults with RLS. But they may have a hard time describing it. They might call it a creepy crawly feeling.
Children with RLS also have an overwhelming urge to move their legs. Theyre more likely than adults to have symptoms during the day.
RLS can interfere with sleep, which can affect every aspect of life. A child with RLS may seem inattentive, irritable, or fidgety. They may be labeled disruptive or hyperactive. Diagnosing and treating RLS can help address these problems and improve school performance.
To diagnose RLS in children up to age 12, the adult criteria must be met:
- overwhelming urge to move, usually accompanied by strange sensations
- symptoms worsen at night
- symptoms are triggered when you try to relax or sleep
- symptoms ease up when you move
Additionally, the child must be able to describe the leg sensations in their own words.
Otherwise, two of these must be true:
- Theres a clinical sleep disturbance for age.
- A biological parent or sibling had RLS.
- A sleep study confirms a periodic limb movement index of five or more per hour of sleep.
Any dietary deficiencies must be addressed. Children with RLS should avoid caffeine and develop good bedtime habits.
If necessary, medications that affect dopamine, benzodiazepines, and anticonvulsants may be prescribed.
Also Check: How To Track Your Sleep With Fitbit Charge 2
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome is a name that encompasses a variety of irritating symptoms in the legs. Some peoples legs twitch uncontrollably, some people feel strange, hard-to-describe sensations in their legs, and some people just have the urge to move their legs frequently, or continuously once they lay down at night. A lot of people in my clinic will describe a creepy-crawly sensation, or a feeling like water flowing up and down my legs. Some people even flat-out tell me they can feel the blood running through their veins.
Getting A Restless Leg Syndrome Diagnosis
If you think you have restless leg syndrome and its beginning to affect your daily life, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider.
To reach an RLS diagnosis, you must experience all of the below symptoms, as set out by the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group :
- An urge to move the legs usually but not always accompanied by, or felt to be caused by, uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs.
- The urge to move the legs and unpleasant sensations begin or worsen during periods of rest or inactivity, such as lying down or sitting.
- The urge to move the legs and unpleasant sensations are partially or totally relieved by movement, such as walking or stretching, at least as long as the activity continues.
- The urge to move the legs and any accompanying unpleasant sensations during rest or inactivity only occur or are worse in the evening or night than during the day.
- The occurrence of the above features is not solely accounted for as symptoms primary to another medical or a behavioral condition .
Your doctor will ask about the frequency, duration, and intensity of symptoms and may also:
- Ask about any medications you take to rule out a link
- Carry out a physical examination
- Arrange blood tests to check iron levels
- Refer you to a sleep specialist
Because of the varying symptoms of RLS, its often left undiagnosed , meaning many individuals suffer in silence. But with sleep deprivation being the biggest concern, RLS shouldnt be ignored.
Read Also: N Acetylcysteine Bipolar
Is Restless Legs Syndrome Affecting Your Sleep
You may know it as the urge to move or jerk your legs when youre sitting or lying still, especially at night. Restless legs syndrome occurs when brain cells send false signals of pain, discomfort, tingling and itchiness to nerve endings in the legs . Moving your legs turns off these signals, but the creepy-crawly sensations return as soon as youre still again.
The syndrome is thought to result from an overproduction of the brain chemical dopamine during the day, which leads to an underproduction at night. Heres what to do if your itchy, jerking legs keep you awake at night.
Magnesiums Links To Sleep
Magnesium performs many essential duties in the body. Among its many tasks is its partnership with gamma-amino butyric acid to promote good sleep health. GABA, an amino acid, works to calm the nervous system so you can fall asleep. Think of magnesium molecules as GABAs chauffeurs, in that respect.
You may have heard from others about the calming effects of magnesium, and for the most part, thats accurate. Magnesium famously calms jumpy muscles and the nerves that serve them. It also supports circadian function by lowering brain temperature to prepare you for sleep.2
Recommended Reading: Does Samsung Gear S2 Track Sleep
Establishing A Treatment Plan For Restless Legs Syndrome
When treating RLS, doctors must consider the severity of the condition and the extent to which it affects your quality of life. Due to the potential for side effects, doctors may prefer to avoid prescribing medication for mild symptoms that dont interfere with day-to-day life.
Since RLS can occur on its own or as a result of another medical condition, treatment for RLS symptoms may need to be approached differently depending on the root cause. Before proceeding with RLS treatment, experts recommend looking for other conditions that could be causing or aggravating RLS symptoms. Common culprits include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Renal insufficiency
- Medication such as antihistamines and certain antidepressants
For many people, addressing these factors may lead to a drastic reduction in RLS symptoms. However, if symptoms are still bothersome, or if they interfere with sleep, doctors may advise additional remedies.
Clinical Efficacy In Rls
Ropinirole as a treatment for RLS was evaluated in 8 open-label trials and 11 randomized controlled trials between 1998 and 2006.
There were four open-label clinical series examining the effects of ropinirole on RLS patients that were published in 1998 and 1999 . These involved small sample sizes of 516 subjects and varied in both the dose range of ropinirole and duration of treatment . Significant reductions in the subjective assessment of RLS symptom severity while on treatment were observed in all four studies. In the study by , IRLS Rating Scale scores significantly improved from 18.6±2.4 to 7.7±3.5, which is a robust finding given that the population was difficult to treat since the patients used an average total number of 4.2±1.8 medications for their RLS symptoms prior to entering the study and many had levodopa-induced RLS rebound during the study. In one of the studies by , significant improvement in the objective polysomnographic variables of sleep efficiency, total sleep time, and periodic limb movements were observed as well as subjective improvement in RLS symptoms, not only soon after the initiation of ropinirole treatment but also following a month of treatment.
Randomized controlled trials
Recommended Reading: How Does Fitbit Flex Track Sleep
Avoid Extended Periods Of Inactivity
Sitting still for too long can make the symptoms of RLS worse, so try to break up periods of sitting with movement or stretches.
- Find or create a work setting where you can be active. If you work at an office, look into a desk that lets you stand and type, or walk while talking on the phone.
- Tell friends, family, and coworkers why you have to move around more than others. Theyll likely try to accommodate you and want to help you create a healthy environment.
- Schedule activities that may require long periods of sittingsuch as car journeys, flights, or waiting for appointmentsin the morning rather than late in the day.
- Choose an aisle seat at movies and on planes so that you can get up and move.
- Give yourself stretch breaks at work and during long car rides.
Other Conditions Associated With Restless Legs Syndrome
The following medical conditions are also associated with RLS, although the relationships are not clear. In some cases, these conditions may contribute to RLS. Others may have a common cause, or they may coexist due to other risk factors:
- Osteoarthritis . About three-quarters of patients with RLS also have osteoarthritis, a common condition affecting older adults.
- Varicose veins. Varicose veins occur in about 1 in 7 patients with RLS.
- Diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes may have higher rates of secondary RLS. Nerve pain related to their diabetes cannot fully explain the higher rate of RLS.
- Hypertension .
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
- Chronic alcoholism.
- Sleep apnea and snoring.
- Chronic headaches.
- Brain or spinal injuries.
- Many muscle and nerve disorders. Of particular interest is hereditary ataxia, a group of genetic diseases that affects the central nervous system and causes loss of motor control. Researchers believe that hereditary ataxia may supply clues to the genetic causes of RLS.
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder .
- Psychiatric disorders, such as depression.
Read Also: How Good Is Garmin Sleep Tracking
Signs Of Restless Legs Syndrome In Pregnancy
RLS causes an unpleasant sensation in the lower limbs that feels like throbbing, itching, pulling, tingling, or just a painful feeling. Some people describe it as a creepy-crawly feeling that they cant help but try to shake off. The urge to move can be very powerful and may feel overwhelming at times.
Sometimes, the condition can be mistaken for nocturnal leg cramps or hypnic jerking, but unlike with RLS, moving the legs doesnt usually improve those conditions.
If you suspect you may have the syndrome, its important to speak with your health care provider about your symptoms. To be diagnosed, you have to meet the following criteria:
RLS is a common sleep disorder thats also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease . It affects between 5-15% of the general US population, although women are twice as likely to be affected than men. Pregnancy appears to increase the likelihood of struggling with this condition, although the exact underlying reason isnt fully understood.
How Is Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosed
Since there is no specific test for RLS, the condition is diagnosed by a doctors evaluation. The five basic criteria for clinically diagnosing the disorder are:
- A strong and often overwhelming need or urge to move the legs that is often associated with abnormal, unpleasant, or uncomfortable sensations.
- The urge to move the legs starts or get worse during rest or inactivity.
- The urge to move the legs is at least temporarily and partially or totally relieved by movements.
- The urge to move the legs starts or is aggravated in the evening or night.
- The above four features are not due to any other medical or behavioral condition.
Diagnosing RLS in children may be especially difficult, since it may be hard for children to describe what they are experiencing, when and how often the symptoms occur, and how long symptoms last. Pediatric RLS can sometimes be misdiagnosed as “growing pains” or attention deficit disorder.
Also Check: Garmin Forerunner Sleep Tracker