Also known as RLS, Restless Leg Syndrome is more common among older people. It is a ‘nervous’ disorder that originates in the brain but is experienced in the legs. (In rare cases, the sensations are felt in the body, and sometimes in the arms. However, RLS mostly affects lower limbs.)
The symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome include:
- Unpleasant sensations in the legs. These have been described as a strange tickling or ‘crawling’ feeling – as if there are bugs moving under the skin. Others describe painful throbbing and pulling.
- An ‘irresistible urge’ to move legs in response to the unpleasant sensations
- Uncontrollable twitching of the leg muscles
- Leg twitching usually occurs when the person is lying down. However, it can also occur when they are sitting in a chair
- Leg jerking
- Twitching and jerking can only be controlled by moving legs
Symptoms tend to be worse at night. They usually affect both legs, but can also affect one leg only, or one leg more than the other.
Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome
There are many possible causes of RLS. These include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Kidney disease
- Some medications – including ani-depressants
- Nerve damage (Neuropathy)
- Iron deficiency
RLS symptoms can be made worse by:
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
- Too much caffeine (from energy drinks and coffee)
- Not enough sleep
However, RLS symptoms are seen more often in people who have poor quality sleep. Sleep apnea is one of the main causes of poor-quality sleep. Therefore, there is a strong correlation between RLS and sleep apnea.
If you suffer the above symptoms and are worried about your sleep quality, it is advisable to go to your doctor. They can diagnose and if need be, send you to a sleep clinic for further testing. (You do need a doctors referral to book into a sleep clinic.) After all – good quality sleep is needed by everyone.