Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common sleep disorder that usually affects people of all ages and walks of life. We spoke to David Uskavitch, M.D., clinical director of the Vanderbilt Neurological Clinic in Nashville, Tennessee, for one approach to the medical problems from which you or your loved one may suffer when trying to sleep.
If you think you might have RLS, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Shellie Braeuner
RLS is a periodic movement of the legs during sleep. "People with restless leg syndrome often feel a crawling sensation on their legs if they hold their legs still for very long," Dr. Uskavitch says. Moving the legs relieves the sensation. This discomfort and the resulting movement often disturb sleep. In some cases, the symptoms may be severe enough to cause daytime drowsiness.
RelaxRLS is a very common sleep disorder. "There are many ways to work with the problem," according to Dr. Uskavitch.
Eat A Balanced Diet"A healthy diet helps with almost every sleep disorder," Dr. Uskavitch says. Some cases of RLS worsen with low mineral levels. A healthy diet keeps iron and other minerals at healthy levels.
Reduce StressStress exacerbates any sleep problem. He encourages sufferers to find balance between work and personal responsibilities. Try setting aside time for fun and relaxation.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene“Good sleep hygiene helps many people,” Dr. Uskavitch says. Good sleep hygiene involves reserving time in bed for sleep. This means not using the bed for work, studying or watching TV. Good sleep hygiene also means creating a routine, a set of physical actions that signal the body that it is time to sleep. A routine might include a shower, a glass of warm milk, or washing the face and brushing teeth.
Seek Professional HelpIf the problem persists and you are losing sleep, consult a sleep specialist. "There are many ways to help," Dr. Uskavitch says. "There is no reason for people to suffer."
David Uskavitch, M.D, earned his bachelor's degree (with distinction) from the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences in 1980 and his Master of Arts in Teaching degree in biology from the University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1981. Dr. Uskavitch received his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1987. He then completed his internship in medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1988 and went on to complete his residency in neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1991.
Have you ever suffered from RLS? What worked for you?