Restless Legs Syndrome: An Annoying Sleeping Disorder That Is Hard To Treat

When most people think of sleep disorders, they may instantly think of insomnia, but if you suffer from restless legs syndrome (RLS), you will fully understand why this condition is considered a sleeping disorder. RLS can leave you unable to sleep simply because it makes your legs feel unusually weird. There are ways to control this disorder though, but it may take some work finding a method that works for you.

What is it?

According to Healthline, Professor KarlAxel Ekbom labeled this condition as Ekbom disease in 1945, but this wasn't actually the first time it was discovered. Researchers believe that it was originally documented 300 years before this, yet there is still no perfect cure or remedy for it.

Today it is called restless legs syndrome simply because it makes you feel like you need to move your legs. In fact, you may have to move your legs because the feelings are so overwhelming. A person that has RLS may describe the feelings as:

  • Unpleasant sensations in the legs
  • The feeling that you have to get up or move your legs
  • Creepy, crawly type of feelings in the legs (primarily in the calves)

It is not necessarily described as a painful condition, but it is very uncomfortable. For most people, the feelings only come when they lie down to go to sleep. For others, sitting in a car or airplane can cause the sensations.

Generally speaking, the strange sensations tend to worsen whenever a person lies down, and the feelings can continuously worsen until the person gets up. Moving your legs around may temporarily reduce the feelings, but not always. Some people find that as soon as they get up and begin to walk, the feelings are completely gone.

What Causes it?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, approximately 10% of people in the U.S. suffer from this, and about twice as many women have RLS than men. Unfortunately, doctors do not know for sure what the root cause of this is, but researchers believe that have found some correlations between RLS and:

  • Certain medications – this can include antidepressants and anti-nausea drugs.
  • Chronic illnesses or diseases – one of the main correlations with this is that people with Parkinson's disease almost always suffer from RLS.
  • Genetics – a lot of people that have this find that their parents or children also have it.

John Hopkins University is just one of many organizations that are currently undergoing studies on this condition, and you may be able to take part in a clinical study if you have it.

How is it Treated?

If you are tired of losing sleep from this, you may need to talk to your doctor about treatment options. Your doctor might recommend trying one or more of these options:

  • Medication – there are numerous types of medications prescribed for this, but there is not one that works for everyone. One type your doctor may recommend is a benzodiazepine. This is a medication used to treat anxiety and insomnia, and it often helps control the symptoms because it makes you sleepy and relaxed.
  • Exercising – daily exercising can make a difference too, or you could try yoga or meditation.
  • Lifestyle changes – changing what you eat and drink may help naturally with this, and this includes avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
  • Compression socks – diabetics often wear this, but they may help you if you suffer from RLS because they keep pressure around your calves.

While these options may help control your symptoms, you may still have trouble with RLS. If this condition is making you lose too much sleep, make an appointment with your doctor at places like to find out if there are any other options available for treating RLS.