23 September 2014

Today is Restless Legs Awareness Day || What does this have to do with sleep?

The folks at the Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation want you to know... those jumpy, twitchy, tingly legs that you can't seem to calm down during the day are not something to ignore.

Willis-Ekbom Disease (WED), better known as Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurologic disorder that significantly affects approximately three percent of adults, who find the condition disruptive to their sleep, work, relationships, and quality of life. There is no cure for this condition but lifestyle corrections and some medical treatments can alleviate many of its symptoms.

RLS typically occurs during the day, but it can follow sufferers into their nighttime activities and make it difficult to fall asleep or to maintain deep sleep. This refers to a related nighttime condition: Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). Approximately 80 percent of RLS sufferers also have PLMD; however, some people only have PLMD, so the condition requires an overnight study to rule in or out, based on your doctor's judgment.

PLMD is characterized by rhythmic movements of the legs (and sometimes the arms) during sleep. These movements are very different from the normal spasms, called hypnic myoclonia, that we often experience initially while trying to fall asleep, in that they occur periodically and rhythmically throughout the night in clusters.

Patients frequently do not recognize they have this disorder and often learn about it through complaints and concerns expressed by their sleep partner.

When a patient undergoes a sleep study, periodic leg movements are one of the symptoms that doctors hope to identify as a cause for poor or fragmented sleep. It's not clear what causes these movements to happen, though recent research shows that narcolepsy, Parkinson's disease, and antidepressant usage may be connected to PLMD.

Treatments for PLMD include pharmaceuticals and lifestyle changes. Drugs for Parkinson's disease are a first line of defense, but narcotics, anticonvulsants and other prescription sleep medications can also be useful. Patients can avoid late meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol to alleviate their condition; antidepressant medications may also need to be reviewed by a physician to rule them out as a cause of the disorder.

Check out this study from Neurology India 

Check out this video at the SHC YouTube channel as well.