As the name suggests, this disorder primarily affects one’s legs, but it can also affect the arms. It is not related to other emotional or psychiatric disorders. The experience of RLS usually involves “creepy” sensations that occur in the legs or arms when sitting still and especially at bedtime. It is very different from the feelings associated with a limb “falling asleep” when the blood supply is lessened. The pain and unpleasant feelings are usually in the calf muscles and can often be temporarily lessened by stretching and moving the legs.

What occurs during RLS?

The sensations associated with RLS occur primarily when the person is awake and can affect the ability to fall asleep at night. The constant need to move around or stretch the legs can prevent the person from falling asleep. The lack of sleep associated with RLS isa common problem. Restless Legs Syndrome can also affect one’s ability to carry out daily activities (such as participating in business meetings). It may interfere with the ability to travel long distances and have other detrimental effects on a person’s life.

How common is RLS?

Restless Legs Syndrome affects approximately five to ten people out of every 100. It tends to run in families, can occur at any age, and affects both men and women; however, it is more common in women. The experience of RLS can be frustrating because it can come and go over time.

What causes RLS?

The causes of RLS are not clearly understood. A number of conditions have been associated with the experience of RLS, including:

  • Poor blood circulation in the legs
  • Nerve problems
  • Muscle disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies

Other factors that can trigger RLS include:

  • Starting or stopping certain medications
  • Consumption of caffeine
  • Smoking
  • Fatigue
  • A very warm environment
  • Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures

How is it treated?

Certain home remedies can be effective for people who suffer from RLS. These include taking hot baths, leg massages using a heating pad or ice packs, aspirin or other pain relievers, exercise, elimination of caffeine, and certain vitamin supplements. Health care providers can sometimes prescribe medications that can reduce the symptoms and ease the pain of RLS.

Information Provided Courtesy of the American Academy Of Sleep Medicine