What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
A health article about Restless Leg Syndrome from Your Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or Ekbom’s syndrome is a misunderstood common condition which causes the legs and sometimes the arms to twitch just before going to sleep; this can cause problems with insomnia
Around one in twenty people suffer from restless legs syndrome (RLS) during their life, it tends to affect women more than men especially pregnant women and middle aged women, other groups that tend to suffer from restless legs syndrome (RLS) are those suffering from kidney disease, nerve diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and varicose veins
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is not often discussed, but is actually fairly common, occurring in 10-15% of the population.
People with RLS complain of a discomfort in the legs (rarely the arms or chest) that is relieved only by walking.
The feeling is often described as ants crawling on the skin. This uncomfortable sensation only occurs when a person is not moving (either sitting still or lying down) and is always worse at night. Generally, people afflicted with RLS also notice that they unconsciously move their legs as well.
Sometimes they describe their legs as jumping on their own, or they notice that while sitting, they are constantly jiggling them. Since RLS occurs mostly at night while the body is at rest and is relieved by movement, falling asleep and staying asleep can become very difficult.
Even when RLS sufferers manage to fall asleep, they have frequent jerking of the limbs called periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS). Many elderly people develop PLMS – 34% of those over age 60 – even people who do not suffer from RLS and who have no other sleep complaints.
Signs & Symptoms
Typical symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS) are a creeping sensation beneath the skin in the affected limbs, this sensation can be accompanied by pins and needles, twitching, a burning sensation, aching, tingling or pain and an urge to more the legs.
These symptoms tend to affect the calf area of the leg but can also affect the arms. The symptoms tend to occur when in periods of rest, sleep and tiredness, typically before going to sleep.
Some people describe a pins-and-need sensation. Others say they feel as though bugs are running around underneath the skin.
The sensations can maddening, and the only way to get relief is to twitch kick the legs, or get up and walk around. And this goes on all night.
The only thing that seems to relieve the discomfort is to move the legs, stretching them or getting up and walking around on them. Unfortunately, this interrupts the sleep cycle, so people with Restless Leg Syndrome are often very tired from lack of sleep.
Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms are not the same for every person. Some common symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome includes :-
• Having leg and sometimes arm movements when sleeping that you can't control.
• Sleepiness or tiredness during the day.
• Leg discomfort that occurs and gets worse when lying down or sitting for long periods of time. Long car trips, sitting in the movies, long-distance flights, and having a cast on can trigger RLS.
• Unpleasant or uncomfortable feelings or sensations in the legs often described as creeping, crawling, tingling, pulling or painful, often producing an irresistible urge to move the legs.
• Shortly after going bed, people with this condition will begin having ache, cramping, burning or just plain pain in their legs.
• Some patients have no definite sensation, except for the need to MOVE. The need to move the legs to relieve the discomfort, by stretching or bending, rubbing the legs, tossing or turning in bed, or getting up and pacing the floor. Moving usually offers some temporary relief of symptoms.
Types of Restless Leg Syndrome
Chronic instances of restless legs syndrome make it virtually impossible for the sufferer to get to sleep, let alone stay asleep, thereby generating a related case of severe insomnia.
If left untreated, the condition, and the resulting insomnia, can lead to severe physical and psychological health problems. In fact, restless legs syndrome is often associated with depression and irritability, as well as occupational, social and marital problems.
If leg twitching or jerking is also present, a related disorder called periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS) may be the cause. With PLMS, the leg movements may be severe enough to awaken you.
In RLS, PLMS-like symptoms can sometimes occur during wakefulness, as well as in sleep.
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?
The exact cause of restless legs syndrome (RLS) is unknown but it has been linked to nerve irritation when fatigued, stressed or anxious. It has also been linked with smoking, diabetes, pregnancy insomnia , stroke, respiratory illness and kidney problems.
In most cases, the cause of Restless Legs Syndrome is unknown. A family history of the condition is seen in approximately 50 percent of such cases, suggesting a genetic form of the disorder.
Some of the common causes of Restless Leg Syndrome includes :-
• Chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and peripheral neuropathy are associated with RLS. Treating the underlying condition often provides relief from Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms.
• People with low iron levels or anemia may be prone to developing Restless Leg Syndrome . Once iron levels or anemia is corrected, patients may see a reduction in symptoms.
• Some women get Restless Leg Syndrome during pregnancy, especially in the last 3 months. But the symptoms usually go away about 4 weeks after having the baby.
There has been mounting evidence that RLS may be inherited. In a study conducted on 2001, 14 RLS patients among those 25 French-Canadian individuals apparently suggest the autosomal recessive mode of transmission of RLS.
In autosomal recessive type of inheritance, 2 copies of gene that codes for the disease should be present in order for the effects to materialize in a living species.
Now what does this mean to us? This implies that the chances of developing the disease are enhanced when either your parents have a family history of the disorder or both of them somehow exhibited the condition or are carriers of the condition.
The number of people who have the symptoms of RLS increases with age, and some people who had mild symptoms when they were younger may find that the symptoms get much worse as they age.
The cause of RLS is still unknown, but the symptoms tend to worsen over the years and become more severe in middle-to-old age. The fact that it occurs three to five times more frequently in first-degree relatives of people with RLS than in people without RLS suggests that heredity may be involved. Pregnancy or hormonal changes may temporarily worsen RLS symptoms.
Some cases of RLS are associated with iron deficiency anemia or nerve damage in the legs due to diabetes, kidney problems, alcoholism and Parkinson's disease. Stress, diet or other environmental factors may play a role for some people.
All of these cases are said to be secondary RLS. If there is no family history of RLS and no associated condition causing the disorder, RLS is said to be idiopathic, meaning without a known cause.
Because RLS patients were found to respond positively to treatment with levodopa, scientists have been investigating whether RLS is caused by dopamine deficiency. Dopamine is a chemical found naturally in the central nervous system where it largely functions as a neurotransmitter.
RLS can begin at any age and many individuals with RLS can trace their symptoms back to childhood, when their symptoms may have been called "growing pains" or attributed to hyperactivity because they had difficulty sitting quietly
The symptoms of RLS can range anywhere from bothersome to incapacitating. Fluctuations in severity are common, and occasionally the symptoms may disappear for periods of time.
Anxiety as bedtime approaches, frustration with nighttime awakenings, moodiness and depression, difficulty concentrating and excessive daytime sleepiness have all been reported in association with RLS.
It also can affect marital, family and social relations as well as having an adverse effect on school, work or other activities. Another effect can be increased drowsiness while driving or great difficulty performing overnight shift work.
Secondary Restless Legs in Pregnancy
Up to 15 percent of pregnant women develop Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) during the third trimester. A contributing cause may be iron and/or folate acid deficiency.
In general, RLS is more prevalent in women than men. RLS symptoms make it difficult to fall and stay asleep due to an uncontrollable urge to move the legs in response to unpleasant, restless, creepy feelings in the legs.
These feelings appear when at rest and often disrupt sleep as well. Moving the legs can stop these symptoms temporarily, but the irritation returns when the limb is still.
Fortunately, RLS symptoms usually end after delivery of the baby. Medications used to treat RLS may cause harm to the fetus and should be discussed with a doctor.
Keeping your temperature cool can help in many cases. When you sleep keep the bedroom as cool as you can tolerate and have on as little bed covering as you can bear. In winter you can still snuggle under the covers if you shove your feet outside and let them stay cool.
In summer you may need to have the air-conditioner on in the room for an hour or so before you go to bed so that you can ‘get’ to sleep while it is still cool… take a cold shower before bed. Only cover yourself with a light sheet in hot weather and just stay as cool as possible.
Exercising your legs an hour or so before you go to bed, making sure your leg muscles get a good ‘work out’ can also help. A small trampoline or going for a walk can help stretch and tire the leg muscles so that they are ready to rest and go to sleep. Take a cool shower afterwards to make sure you lower your temperature before you go to bed.
When to seek Medical Advice:
As with most common sleep disorders, diagnosing restless legs syndrome can take time and a proper diagnosis requires the attention of an experienced medical professional.
Because some of the symptoms can be associated with other neuromuscular and sleep disorders, it is also important to undergo specialized sleep tests before a diagnosis is confirmed.
These tests can include neurological evaluations, reflex tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as well as somnography (sleep pattern analysis).
Once the diagnosis has been established, the treatment and management of restless legs syndrome can include simple lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments and activities to promote a better night's sleep.
According to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, "restless legs syndrome is a common, under diagnosed, and treatable condition." Recent research suggests it affects about 10% of adults in North America and Europe with rates increasing with age. Lower prevalence has been found in India, Japan and Singapore, indicating that racial or ethnic factors are associated with RLS.
Because the symptoms typically become more severe with fatigue or inactivity, maintaining a regular sleep routines with a consistent bed time and waking time is extremely important.
Likewise, regular exercise and limited caffeine and nicotine intake can also help limit the neurological stimulation that triggers restless legs symptoms.
Additional options for managing this condition, and other sleep disorders, include massage, yoga and guided meditation for relaxation (a good complement to regular exercise and planned activities for reducing the symptoms of restless legs syndrome) and the use of natural herbal remedies that can help train the body to adhere to a routine sleep cycle and induce a restful and restorative night's sleep.
There are many different medications available to treat both RLS and PLMS. These include medications that are usually used for Parkinson's disease, pain control and seizure disorders. It is important never to treat yourself for this condition, but instead to see a doctor with special knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of RLS.
The International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group has established the following clinical criteria for diagnosis of RLS:
• A compelling urge to move the limbs.
• Motor restlessness; for example, floor pacing, tossing and turning, and rubbing the legs.
• The symptoms may be worse or exclusively present at rest, with variable and temporary relief by activity.
• Symptoms are worse in the evening and at night.
Other associated features commonly found in RLS include:
• Sleep disturbances and daytime fatigue.
• Normal neurological exam in primary RLS.
• Involuntary, repetitive, periodic, jerking limb movements, either in sleep or while awake and at rest.
Most cases of RLS respond well to medical treatment. According to NCSDR, there are a number of pharmacological treatments for RLS.
Iron (ferrous sulfate), which is used in patients with serum ferritin levels of <50 mcg. Clonidine may be useful in hypertensive patients.
Try sleeping with your feet at a cooler temperature than the rest of your body, especially if you currently sleep with bed socks. Simply stick your feet out from under the covers and let yourself adjust to the coolness of your feet. If very hot weather, soak your feet in cool water before going to bed.
NCSDR notes that dopaminergic agents are the first-line drugs for most RLS patients. They are usually used to treat Parkinson's disease, but they also help to relieve RLS symptoms.
Periodic limb movements in sleep are repetitive movements, most typically in the lower limbs, that occur about every 20-40 seconds. If you have PLMS, or sleep with someone who has PLMS (also referred to as PLMD, periodic limb movement disorder), you may recognize these movements as brief muscle twitches, jerking movements or an upward flexing of the feet.
They cluster into episodes lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
Individuals with PLMS may also experience restless legs syndrome (RLS), an irritation or uncomfortable sensation in the calves or thighs, as they attempt to fall asleep or when they awaken during the night.
However, research also shows that many individuals have PLMS without experiencing any symptoms at all.
It's not unusual for the bed partner to be the one who's most aware of the movements, since they may disturb his/her sleep.
Self Care strategies for Living with Restless Leg Syndrome
Home medication for the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome isn't dangerous, but it can badly disrupt your sleep - as well as that of your bedmate. To keep your legs a little calmer. Here are some home remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome.
• Give your muscles a rub. When your legs tingle at night, reach down and give them a vigorous massage. It won't prevent the problem, but it may ease the discomfort.
• Take a warm bath. Taking a warm bath before bedtime can help ease the discomfort of restless legs. In fact, anything you can do to relax your body and mind may help your legs stay calmer.
• Teach your legs to relax. Some people have found that a technique called progressive relaxation, in which each of the body's muscles are relaxed one at a time, can help ease restless legs. Here's how it works. While you're lying in bed, breathe deeply for a few minutes. Then, starting at your feet and working upward to your head, tense each muscle for a few seconds, then relax slowly. Take your time. By time you've reached the top of your head, your whole body will feel warm and relaxed and your legs may be less restless, as well.
• Taking supplements to increase iron and magnesium in the body.
• Slow down on the stimulants. Drinking coffee or alcohol near bedtime can rev up your entire body, including the muscles and nerves in the legs. Doctors have found that some people with restless legs get significant relief when they give up coffee, cola and other caffeine containing foods and drinks.
• Work out the Calisthenics exercise.
Diet change strategies:
Dietary change can help with restless legs syndrome (RLS), cutting out sugar, refined flour, alcohol, caffeine and eating small but regular meals throughout the day especially a small snack before going to bed can help with restless legs syndrome (RLS).
These meals need to include plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts and seeds.
If you are a smoker and suffering from restless legs syndrome (RLS) then it will help if you quit smoking.
Good supplements to take are iron, folic acid, co-enzyme Q10, extracts of ginko biloba and garlic tablets.
Acupuncture and magnet therapy are also worth trying to help with restless legs syndrome (RLS).
The following supplements may help if you are suffering from Restless legs syndrome (RLS).
• Co-enzyme Q10
• Extracts of ginko biloba
• Folic acid
• Garlic tablets
• Vitamin E
Vitamin & Nutrient Associations
Magnesium supplements may help people who suffer from restless legs syndrome and in doing so, help treat insomnia. The mineral magnesium is useful and necessary to every cell in the body.
Magnesium supplies are used in the formation of bone, protein and fatty acid. Making new cells, activating the B complex of vitamins, clotting blood and forming the energy source for muscles: ATP.
Nearly half of the body stores for magnesium are located in the cells of body tissue and organs. The other half is combined inside the bones with calcium and phosphorus. Less than 1 percent of the body's magnesium can be found in the blood.
Magnesium helps sufferers of restless legs syndrome because it helps to relax the muscles in the legs, reducing the tension. The best way to treat the muscles is through magnesium sulfate injections. While oral magnesium is easier to take and comes in many forms the body can absorb, the injections appear to have the majority of success with treating issues like restless legs. The usual regime involves weekly injections intramuscularly for ten weeks.
The type of injections or delivery of magnesium for patients suffering from restless legs is ultimately up to a physician. The use of magnesium to treat the symptoms of restless legs can help patients not only go to sleep, but stay asleep. Restless legs are a very frustrating condition that prevents people from being able to rest or even sit for long periods of time. Magnesium treatments should never be used without a physician's instructions and advice. The physician may also advise the patient to use the magnesium in conjunction with other vitamins and minerals.
The effectiveness of magnesium treatments can be seen when sufferers of restless legs can fall asleep more easily. They do not wake up several times during the night nor are they pacing the floorboards. While few treatments exist for dealing with issues like restless legs, magnesium offers a very good opportunity to get some relief.
Doctor's recommend that vitamin supplements be used as a regular part of a healthy diet. Vitamin supplements whether including the B12 complex or otherwise, should not be used as the replacement for a healthy diet unless there is a total absence of the vitamin such as found in Vegan's dietary concerns.
Further reading through our articles on health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your RLSsleep disorders problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.
As Aloe Vera Juice is a refreshing and anti-bacterial drink, you might find that taking this daily, diluted in some filtered water will not only refresh you like ‘a shower inside you’ but also assists in dealing with any digestive issues you may also be experiencing.
You may find benefit from our information on detoxification
As well as about detoxing because of change of diet
It may be due to difficulties with your digestive system that is causing your body to be starved of key nutrients, vitamins or minerals. In this case you may find useful answers by reviewing our article on Nutrition For Your Cells.
There is also more information here about why is nutrition such an issue nowadays?
It may be that your metabolism has slowed due to pressures that have been placed on your system through life in general or through specific “challenges” you have faced in the last few months or last few years. Review this by looking at our article about balancing your Metabolic Rate. We wish you well in your search for solutions to this problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.
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Good quality sleep is a habit. If you make the changes above, don’t expect changes in your sleep pattern to occur overnight, give it time.
And be forgiving of yourself. Nothing prevents a good nights sleep more than the increased sense of annoyance at not being able to go to sleep. So quit trying, get up and do something relaxing.
child sleep disorders
Childhood sleep disturbances affect not only the child but also the whole family. There is an abundance of different beliefs and lore on this topic. Sifting through the enormous amount of material, approaches, and opinions about kids' sleep can be daunting for parents.
There is not one correct way to deal with your child in regard to sleep. Each child is unique and has his own special set of circumstances and needs. What's important is for parents to identify what they feel comfortable with and what they feel is best for their child.
daily sleep requirements
It’s a basic necessity of life, as important to our health and well-being as air, food and water. When we sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed, alert and ready to face daily challenges.
When we don’t meet our daily sleep requirements, every part of our lives can suffer. Our jobs, relationships, productivity, health and safety (and that of those around us) are all put at risk.
In general, there are three levels of energy level, hyperthymic, even balanced and hypothymic. To figure out in which energy do you fall in, answer the following questions.
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Jet lag sleep disorder
One common problem with jet lag is that, for many people, the true effects of jet lag are not immediately apparent and it may take a day or two to "catch up" with you. In addition, the excitement of arriving at your holiday destination, or for an important business meeting, may also tend to mask the symptoms of jet lag.
So, if you arrive at your destination feeling like a million dollars and throw yourself into your holiday or business activities - beware! Jet lag will almost certainly creep up and hit you on the back of the head just when you least expect it.
Statistics show that about 45% of adult’s snores from time to time while around 25% snores regularly. This is mostly considered as a problem that needs some intervention or treatment.
Generally, snoring is most common in men than women. Overweight people show more tendencies to snore than those within normal weight. Age appears to aggravate the situation as well.
Sleep apnea, sleep apnoea or sleep apnœa is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. These episodes, called apneas (literally, "without breath"), each last long enough so one or more breaths are missed, and occur repeatedly throughout sleep. The standard definition of any apneic event includes a minimum 10 second interval between breaths, with either a neurological arousal (3-second or greater shift in EEG frequency, measured at C3, C4, O1, or O2), or a blood oxygen desaturation of 3-4 percent or greater, or both arousal and desaturation. Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram.
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