There are two main movement disorders that are responsible for sleep problems: Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). RLS affects between 9% to 15%. This is a large number of people.
The disorder causes people with it to feel compelled to move their legs. Some will claim that their skin crawls. You can feel discomfort in your legs if you ignore the urge to move them. You may feel the urge to move your legs more at night. This can make it difficult to fall asleep or keep you awake.
RLS is most common in the legs but can also affect your feet and arms.
Different symptoms can be experienced with periodic limb movement disorder. This disorder causes people to experience movement in their lower extremities for up to five seconds. It usually occurs within the first hour of sleep. These movements are usually not noticeable, but you may experience occasional awakenings throughout the night. Most people suffering from RLS have PLMD. However, PLMD can also be present in other sleep-related conditions.
Primary RLS can occur on its own or in families. It can also be passed on to your children. Secondary RLS can be caused by certain drugs, iron deficiency or pregnancy, anemia, and peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes can cause peripheral neuropathy.
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What can you do to treat RLS? If you have RLS due to another condition, you should treat that first. There are behavioral changes you can make to reduce the severity of RLS, such as avoiding alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. Regular exercise, regular sleep patterns, and regular bathing are all good options.
The use of pneumatic compression devices is another intervention that has been studied. These are the inflatable wraps that are placed on the legs of patients who have had major surgery. They keep blood flowing until they are able to walk again. It squeezes the legs and counters the desire to move them.
For medication. Iron supplements can sometimes be helpful for restless legs, even if there isn’t an iron deficiency. Dopamine-enhancing medications such as Pramipexole or Ropinirole, and benzodiazepines are all options.
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