Having a sleepless night now and then can be annoying. But when you have restless legs syndrome (RLS), going without sleep night after night can make life miserable. You may be so tired that you just feel like crying.
If restless legs are robbing you of sleep, you're not alone. But there may be some things you can do for yourself to make it easier to get a good night's sleep, especially if your symptoms are mild.
Restless legs syndrome is a disorder that makes you feel like you must move. This feeling usually affects the legs. But some people feel it in their arms, torso, or in a phantom limb (the part of a limb that has been amputated). People often describe these feelings as tingling, "pins and needles," prickling, pulling, aching, or crawling. When you have restless legs syndrome, moving usually makes you feel better, at least for a short time. For most people, this problem happens at night when they are trying to sleep.
Test Your Knowledge
The main symptom of restless legs syndrome is numbness in the legs.
Being unable to go to sleep is the biggest problem with restless legs syndrome (RLS). When RLS keeps you up at night, you keep getting more and more tired. And being overly tired can make your RLS even worse.
But many people are able to get a good night's sleep most nights by making a few changes in their habits. For example, getting regular exercise and drinking less caffeine can help with sleep.
Even with restless legs syndrome, some changes in your habits may help you sleep better.
If you are tossing and turning, you should not stay in bed until you fall asleep. You need to establish the bed as a place for sleep, not sleeplessness. If you aren't asleep within 15 or 20 minutes, go to another room and do a quiet activity like reading until you are sleepy.
If you are tossing and turning, you should not stay in bed until you fall asleep. By staying in bed, you are connecting the bed with sleeplessness. If you aren't asleep within 15 or 20 minutes, go to another room and do a quiet activity like reading until you are sleepy.
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to find ways to get more sleep.
Talk with your doctor
If you have questions, take this information with you when you visit your doctor. Your doctor may have more suggestions on how you can sleep better.
If you would like more information on restless legs syndrome, the following resources are available:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing and treating:
Diseases affecting the heart and circulation, such as heart attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, and heart problems present at birth (congenital heart diseases).
Diseases that affect the lungs, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, sleep apnea, and pneumonia.
Diseases that affect the blood, such as anemia, hemochromatosis, hemophilia, thalassemia, and von Willebrand disease.
National Sleep Foundation
1010 North Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22201
The National Sleep Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization, can provide you with brochures on sleep disorders and a list of accredited sleep disorder clinics.
Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation
1530 Greenview Drive SW
Rochester, MN 55902
The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with restless legs syndrome (RLS). General medical information and research updates are available online and through newsletters and special publications. The website has numerous links to support groups and resources for more information about the condition.
5731 Mosholu Avenue
Bronx, NY 10471
WE MOVE is an Internet resource for movement disorder information. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to educating people about the latest treatment options for neurologic movement disorders. WE MOVE also has information on support groups and hosts discussions and chat rooms on the website.
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.