Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the United States, affecting 40% of the population at some time in their life. One of the most prevalent causes of insomnia is restless legs syndrome (RLS), reported by 15%-20% of people in the U.S. This serious, baffling condition interferes with the ability to fall asleep. In addition to suffering from extreme daytime fatigue, patients with RLS often self-medicate with alcohol or drugs in an effort to get the rest they desperately need. The good news is that FDA-approved treatment with Parkinson’s medications is generally successful.
At Akron General’s Outpatient Sleep Center, sleep specialists diagnose and treat restless legs syndrome and 85 additional causes of sleep disorders. In our fully accredited, 16-bed Sleep Center, we evaluate many sleep disorders, including nocturnal breathing disorders and other causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.
There are no specific diagnostic tests for restless legs syndrome. However, a careful medical history is essential. The syndrome occurs more often in women than men and increases with age. Ninety percent of patients have a family history of RLS.
Although the exact cause of RLS has not been identified, abnormal metabolism of iron in the brain plays a role. Secondary causes of RLS can include iron deficiency, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, radiculopathy, ADD/HD, and deficiencies of B12, folic acid, and other vitamins.
According to the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group, patients must meet four criteria: an urge to move the legs accompanied by or caused by extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs; the urge to move or sensations begin or worsen during periods of inactivity, such as lying down or sitting; the urge to move or sensations are partially or totally relieved by movement so long as the activity continues; the urge to move or sensations are worse in the evening or at night or only occur at these times.
If you feel you have insomnia or restless legs syndrome, we would be happy to help. Simply call our sleep center at 330-344-6751 and request an outpatient appointment with a sleep specialist.