Rest­less legs – make it stop!

Don’t let an­noy­ing twitches keep you up all night

Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - Contents -

be­ing de­nied a re­lax­ing, dream-filled sleep by your own legs is a cruel kind of irony. While symptoms vary from per­son to per­son and range from mild to mad­den­ing, rest­less leg syn­drome (RLS) is char­ac­terised by un­com­fort­able sen­sa­tions that cause an ir­re­sistible urge to move, usu­ally in the quiet of the night.

Those af­flicted with RLS, also known as Wil­lis-ek­bom dis­ease, de­scribe feel­ings of creep­ing, crawl­ing, pulling, tin­gling, throb­bing or aching which leads to toss­ing and turn­ing, kick­ing, jerk­ing, need­ing to mas­sage the af­fected area or pac­ing the floor in the wee hours seek­ing blessed re­lief.

Short-term, RLS can cause day­time crab­bi­ness and im­paired abil­ity to func­tion in sit­u­a­tions where you need your wits about you. Long-term, chronic sleep de­pri­va­tion can lead to anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, re­la­tion­ship prob­lems, low­ered im­mu­nity and in­creased risk of ill­ness and dis­ease.


Ex­perts be­lieve RLS is linked to dis­tur­bances in the brain’s sig­nalling sys­tem. Neu­rons are mis­fir­ing some­how but the ‘why’ of­ten re­mains a frus­trat­ing mys­tery. In some cases, RLS can in­deed be traced to other health is­sues or cer­tain med­i­ca­tions.


As for treat­ment, it’s of­ten a case of trial and er­ror. What works for some won’t for oth­ers and what works some­times, may not al­ways. Life­style changes are rec­om­mended as a first line of de­fence. For mod­er­ate to se­vere cases, suc­cess is of­ten achieved via drug ther­apy. Cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem de­pres­sants, an­ti­con­vul­sants and meds that in­crease the flow of the neu­ro­trans­mit­ter dopamine can be ef­fec­tive un­der the close su­per­vi­sion of your doc­tor.

RLS is a com­mon, though of­ten con­di­tion

Cre­ate a spe­cial sleep space

Elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion may help.

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