Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) affects millions of Americans and can severely impact their lives. Like other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome not only interferes with the sufferers ability to get a good night’s rest but it also makes it difficult for their partners to sleep as well.
According to the RLS Foundation you may be suffering from restless leg syndrom if the following are true.
- You feel an overwhelming need to move your legs. You may feel compelled to do so due to very uncomfortable sensations in your legs that have been described as gnawing, creepy-crawly, itching or pulling.
- Generally, when you are at rest the symptoms of restless leg syndrome worsen and the longer you remain at rest the greater the possibility of the symptoms occuring becomes.
- The symptoms of restless leg sydrome improve once you start moving your legs. The degree of improvement can be minor or dramatic but the symptoms recur once the movement stops.
- Restless legs syndrome is generally worse at night and when lying down. However, while this causes problems at night it is not as troublesome during the day.
Restless leg syndrome is a very real and very disturbing condition experienced mostly by middle aged and older adults. While not life threatening, it can have a detrimental effect on overall health by seriously disrupting sleep patterns. For this reason, the thousands of people who suffer from RLS have sought any means they can to keep symptoms at bay and allow them get a good night’s sleep.
While this can happen during waking hours, RLS becomes a sleep disorder when it impacts on the quality of sleep. Of course, this condition makes it difficult to fall asleep and insomnia results.
There isn’t a lot known about the cause of restless legs syndrome, but what is known is the effect… an insatiable urge to get up and walk around or move the legs which usually occurs just after going to bed. RLS sufferers will generally experience a tingling or creeping feeling in the lower legs which can only be relieved by movement. In some cases, the sensation can occur in the feet, upper legs or arms as well.
This tingling sensation or rapid leg movements which can also occur, make it extremely difficult for restless leg syndrome sufferers to sleep peacefully. Because they are awakened before they can reach a deep sleep level, sufferers tend not to get a restful night’s sleep and can wind up suffering from full blown insomnia as well. While RLS can occur at any time and will often occur in pregnant women, it is most common in middle aged or older individuals.
While the exact cause of restless leg syndrome is as yet unknown there are certain features that seem to fit a pattern. For example RLS sufferers often have iron deficiencies, RLS runs in families (no pun intended) and is associated with pregnancy and peripheral neuropathy.
Because the symptoms of restless legs syndrome can be worse during times of extreme stress or emotional upset, treatment is usually aimed at relieving stress. While there are some pharmaceuticals on the market which can treat symptoms, relaxation techniques are usually much more effective. Everything from warm baths, to meditation and even the use of binaural beats to induce relaxation has worked to ease RLS symptoms.
As with most cases of insomnia and other sleep disorders, the most important element in fighting restless leg syndrome is achieving true relaxation. This means learning to let go of the stresses of daily life which can pile up and cloud your mind at the end of the day, preventing you from letting go and getting the rest your body needs. Yoga and meditation can help you to do this by allowing you to focus on the breathing process and actively lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
Binaural beats can also be used to achieve a relaxed state with brainwave entrainment to adjust from an active level during the day to more calm levels as you fall asleep. As a different frequency is directed into each ear, the brain combines the two and automatically shifts into a different, more harmonic frequency, bringing with it a state of relaxation which can help to prevent incidences of restless legs syndrome.
Because getting the proper amount of sleep is vital to maintaining our overall health, combating restless leg syndrome is extremely important. The more your regular sleep pattern is disrupted, the more susceptible you are to a host of illnesses and injuries as your reflexes are slowed, cognition is impaired and even your immune system can be affected. Lack of sleep is never something which should be taken lightly, it is just as important to health as proper diet and exercise.
RLS can be a frustrating and difficult condition to deal with, but it doesn’t have to take over your life and more importantly, it doesn’t have to ruin your sleep. If you are experiencing RLS symptoms, talk to your doctor today and together you can find a way to help you overcome stress, learn to relax and get your sleep patterns back on track. Don’t let restless legs keep you up all night, say goodbye to stress and hello to getting a good night’s sleep!
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