Restless legs – make it stop!
Don’t let annoying twitches keep you up all night
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.
WHAT IS IT?
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.