Sanrai Med INDIA
Understanding the impact of Restless legs syndrome sleep-related breathing disorders

Most of us have had problems falling asleep at some point in our lives. However, for some, this problem is consistent and negatively impacts their daily routine. Sleep disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, and narcolepsy affect people of all ages and gender. If left untreated, these disorders can lead serious health conditions such as hypertension, type II diabetes and heart disease.

Many of these disorders can occur concurrently and can also be the causal factor for the other. For example, a study by NIH found that over 80% of those suffering from RLS or restless leg syndrome had at least one sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or insomnia. As RLS symptoms appear right after going to bed, most of the sufferers will end up kicking or massaging their legs to relieve the symptoms. In extreme cases, they might even have to get up and walk and stretch around to feel better. 

What causes RLS?

Although there is no specific causal factor for RLS, the disease can occur due to late-stage kidney disease, neuropathy, MS, Parkinson’s disease, or iron deficiency. Additionally, pregnant women often suffer from RLS during the third trimester, but these symptoms decline post delivery. 

Stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and drugs used to treat nausea, cold and allergies are also known triggers for RLS.

Is RLS a precursor to other sleep disorders?

RLS often leads to sleep disturbances, fatigue and daytime sleepiness—putting patients at risk for anxiety, depression and heart disease. As many patients consistently get out of bed to stretch or walk, this leads to insomnia and can compound sleep issues in patients.

RLS often occurs with other sleep-disordered breathing disorders such as sleep apnea. The first diagnosis of RLS happens during sleep studies, where technicians may notice these twitches and score patients for RLS accordingly. Studies have demonstrated that nearly 45% of OSA patients also suffer from RLS. 

Ways to reduce RLS symptoms

There are many ways to manage mild or moderate RLS. These methods can be used in conjunction with medication to provide relief. 

                1. Maintain sleep hygiene

                A good night’s sleep fixes a lot of problems. Ensuring that you maintain a good sleep environment and follow a fixed sleep routine that promotes sleep is essential to reduce your symptoms. 

                  2. Avoid stimulants before bedtime

                  Avoiding stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine help reduce RLS symptoms and promote better sleep.

                    3. Increase physical activity

                    Studies have shown that you can reduce your RLS symptoms by nearly 40% if you engage in an exercise regimen. Moderate exercise helps you tire yourself out, reduces anxiety and will get you ready for a good night’s rest.

                      4. Pneumatic pressure therapy

                      Pneumatic pressure therapy works by squeezing legs to improve blood flow. Studies have shown that this therapy relieves RLS symptoms and reduces fatigue in just a month of daily use.

                        5. Hot baths and massages

                        Hot baths and massages stimulate the legs and appear to relieve RLS symptoms for many individuals.

                        Final thoughts

                        Both sleep apnea and RLS disrupt your sleep and if left untreated, can cause heart diseases, type II diabetes, depression and anxiety. Additionally, untreated sleep apnea can cause daytime fatigue which leads to accidents at work and while driving with potentially disastrous outcomes in some cases. Combating disrupted sleep is essential to ensure that you lead a healthier, happier life. If you believe that you suffer from a sleep disorder or RLS, contact your healthcare provider and get assessed right away! Take care.





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