There are many different reasons why your well-earned sleep can be disrupted. There are also many factors that can affect the quality of your sleep. External factors can be a nightmare when they are out of your control, but how frustrating is it to be kept awake at night by an internal factor that you cannot control?
What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
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 too1.
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.
Restless Leg Syndrome Facts
- 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.
- Women are twice as likely to develop RLS than men2.
- RLS 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 seconds3.
- 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. It is important to visit your GP if you think you may be suffering from either condition.