Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a neurological disorder characterised by an irresistible urge to move to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. As it usually interferes with sleep, it is also considered a sleep disorder.
RLS can also create the bizarre and unsettling feeling that resembles a crawling or creeping sensation in the feet, calves and thighs. This feeling is often found to be worse in the evening or during the night. Sometimes, the arms are affected too.
One of the most frustrating things about RLS is that the most distinctive or unusual aspect of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax actually is what activates the symptoms. Most people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, the condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue.
Some people occasionally show symptoms of restless legs syndrome, while others have them every day and night. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe. In severe cases, restless legs syndrome can be very distressing and disrupt a person’s daily activities.
RLS affects as many as 1 in 10 people in the UK at some point in their life. The condition is more common in women, and in middle age.1
Women are twice as likely to develop restless legs syndrome as men. It’s also more common in middle age, although the symptoms can develop at any age, including childhood.2
Restless legs syndrome is also associated with involuntary jerking of the legs and arms, known as periodic limb movements in sleep.
Periodic limb movements in sleep are repetitive movements, most typically in the lower limbs, that occur about every 20-40 seconds.3
The movements are when you have episodes of simple, repetitive muscle movements. You are unable to control them. They usually do not keep you from falling asleep. Instead, they severely disrupt your sleep during the night.
Restless Leg Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movements are often linked and both could be categorised as real nightmares. It is important to visit your GP if you are suffering from this at night and with tiredness throughout the day.