Sleep Disorders Center
Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) - A strong urge to move the legs, resisting the urge to move the legs is very difficult and is only alleviated by moving the legs. Feelings of pain, crawling sensations, prickling, or tingling deep inside the legs are common. Sitting or laying still is difficult. The symptoms may be relieved by walking or rubbing the legs, but often only provides temporary relief. The urge to move the legs increases at night and may make it difficult to fall asleep. Sometimes the person may be unaware that the movement of the legs continues during sleep causing frequent interruptions. This condition of leg movements in sleep is called Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMS). Anyone can have problems of leg movements for a short while. Short term occurrences are often caused by being inactive for a long time or by unusually strenuous activities. However, frequent problems with moving the legs during sleep can cause daytime sleepiness leading to less energy. Some conditions associated with RLS or PLMS and are listed below.

  • Pregnancy
  • Kidney disease
  • Iron deficiency (or conditions creating low iron levels)
  • Disease of the nervous system
  • Medications

Problems with RLS or PLMS often increase with age. Symptoms of either RLS or PLMS first start to appear more often between the ages of 40-65.

After eliminating the condition or treating the underlying problems that may cause RLS or PLMS, the problem may continue. In situations where RLS or PLMS continue, treatment with medications may be effective.