In This ArticleIf you’re bothered by an overwhelming urge to move your legs when you lie down, or if there is an unpleasant tingling, aching, or itching sensations in your legs keeping you up at night, you may have a sleep disorder known as restless legs syndrome (RLS). Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a recognized neurological disorder that can interfere with resting or falling asleep.
The good news is that recent research has increased our understanding of restless legs syndrome, leading to more effective treatments. Experts believe that restless legs syndrome is caused by an imbalance of dopamine, a chemical that transmits signals between nerve cells in the brain. Not only are the signs and symptoms of restless legs syndrome different from person to person, but also they can be tricky to explain.
Leg discomfort and strong urge to move – Uncomfortable sensations deep within the legs, accompanied by a strong, often irresistible urge to move them.
Rest triggers the symptoms – Leg pain is normally trigged by activity and relieved by rest, but with restless legs syndrome, the reverse is true. Symptoms improve when you walk or move your legs – The uncomfortable sensations temporarily get better when you move, stretch, or massage your legs.
Nighttime leg twitching – Many people with restless legs syndrome also have periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), a sleep disorder that involves repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs during sleep.
If you’re overweight, dropping the extra pounds can often relieve or lessen the symptoms of restless legs syndrome. Living well with restless legs syndrome means knowing how to manage situations where you must be still. If self-help doesn’t relieve your restless legs syndrome symptoms, you may benefit from visiting a doctor or a sleep specialist. While there are no laboratory tests that can determine if you have restless legs syndrome, your doctor can diagnose it by reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical exam. Your doctor may also review the medications you’re taking as some prescription and over-the-counter drugs can make the symptoms of restless legs syndrome worse. If there is no underlying medical condition causing RLS and lifestyle changes don’t bring enough relief, you may need additional treatment to help you sleep or medication to reduce the restlessness in your legs. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Relaxis vibrating pad for helping RLS patients sleep.
A small medical trial in the UK found that an osteopathic exercise technique known as positional release manipulation (PRM) could benefit people with restless legs syndrome. If other, non-pharmacological treatments have not worked, your doctor may prescribe a medication (or combination of medications) for restless legs syndrome.

Prescription painkillers (such as codeine, oxycodone, Vicodin, and Percocet) can provide relief in severe, unrelenting cases of restless legs syndrome. Sleep medications and muscle relaxants (such as Ambien, Sonata, and Klonopin) can help you sleep better if the symptoms of restless legs syndrome keep you up at night.
Anti-seizure medications (such as Neurontin, Tegretol, and Epitol) can be effective for painful daytime symptoms of restless legs syndrome. Sleep Help Center: Learn how to put a stop to nighttime problems and improve the quality of your rest, and with it, the quality of your life. Restless Legs Syndrome – In-depth guide to restless legs syndrome (RLS), including symptoms, causes, self-help, and treatment. Benefits with Relaxis -  How counterstimulation device Relaxis may help to improve the quality of sleep for patients with RLS. Comprehensive Review of Medications used in Treating RLS and PLMD – Learn about medications and supplements used in the treatment of restless legs syndrome (RLS). Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment – Overview of RLS treatments including lifestyle changes and medications. Restless Leg Syndrome UK - Offers support and information for people affected by RLS in the UK.
Restless Legs Syndrome Australia – Offers information and support for people affected by RLS in Australia. Fortunately, restless legs syndrome can be treated with medical treatment, healthy lifestyle changes, and self-help remedies. If you have restless legs syndrome, a typical night might go like this: You lie down in bed, ready to go to sleep, and just as your body begins to relax, an uncomfortable leg sensations begins to overwhelm your legs.
Restless legs syndrome is usually genetic, about 60% of people with restless legs have a family member with the condition. Restless leg symptoms start or become worse when you’re sitting, relaxing, or trying to rest. Fatigue can worsen the symptoms of restless legs syndrome, so doing what it takes to get enough sleep is crucial.
Many people with restless legs syndrome find that their symptoms improve when they stop drinking and smoking.
Logging changes in your diet, lifestyle, sleep habits, and routine might help you and your doctor make helpful changes to combat restless legs syndrome. Try wearing compression socks or stockings or wrap your legs in bandages (but not so tight you’ll cut off circulation).

If a medical condition, such as iron deficiency, diabetes, or nerve damage is triggering your restless legs syndrome, treating the underlying problem may relieve your RLS symptoms. The pad is placed under your legs and vibrates at different intensities for 30-minute periods to provide counterstimulation to the restless leg sensation. Side effects of Parkinson's medications for restless legs syndrome include nausea, lightheadedness, fatigue, and an increased risk of heart disease.
Follow these steps to help you quiet your restless legs so you and your partner can enjoy a peaceful and refreshing night’s sleep.
You try to ignore the crawling, tingling, or itching in your legs, hoping it will go away, but it only gets worse. If you or your partner suffers from restless legs syndrome, there are plenty of options to help you find relief and get the sleep you need.
Although anyone can have restless legs syndrome, it is more common in older adults and women.
In severe cases of restless legs syndrome, you may experience symptoms in your arms as well as your legs.
The following daytime habits can help reduce the frequency and severity of your restless legs symptoms.
While it doesn’t work for everyone, the device does seem to help some RLS sufferers get better sleep without the unpleasant side-effects of medication.
In fact, a drug that relieves one person’s restless legs may actually make your symptoms worse. In fact, about 40% of mothers experience temporary restless legs syndrome during pregnancy.
In addition, many people with restless legs syndrome find that medications that work initially become less effective over time. Helpguide.org is an ad-free non-profit resource for supporting better mental health and lifestyle choices for adults and children.
Health conditions such as diabetes, iron deficiency, rheumatoid arthritis, and kidney failure can also trigger restless legs syndrome.

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