Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is exactly what the name implies. While trying to fall asleep, a person with this disorder may experience feelings like being on pins and needles, or the legs begin to try and run a race while you are trying to fall asleep. A person with this disorder typically experiences pain mainly in the calves, and can be temporarily relieved by stretching and moving the legs. After finally falling asleep, this may stop but may continue into another disorder called Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). This typically is a rhythmic extension of the big toe, together with an upward bending of the ankle, knee or hip. It does not happen the entire night, rather it occurs in clusters during the first half of the night. Those with RLS more than likely have PLMD, but those with PLMD often do not have RLS.
Approximately 5% to 10% of the population experience the discomfort or pain of RLS at some time in their lives. PLMD affects 5% of people age 30 to 50; 25% of people 50 to 65; and 44% of those over age 65. PLMD contributes to the inability to sleep in approximately 20% of people who have been diagnosed with insomnia.
The cause of these two disorders is unclear. We do know that it can run in families, which accounts for approximately 30 of every 100 people with either disorder. For most, the treatment is commonly a medication that is taken just in the evenings prior to bedtime. Some may need more doses during the day.
If you have any questions on this or other disorders, please contact The Sleep Institute of the Gulf Coast at (228) 868-7593.