Restless Legs Syndrome: Symptoms & Causes Of This Sleep Disorder

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome or RLS happens when you have the irresistible urge to move your legs that’s at least partially relieved by movement which can affect your ability to relax or fall asleep.

It is not just a sleep disorder but also a brain and nerve condition. The symptoms are mostly to occur when your body is at rest in the evening. You can also feel the uncomfortable sensations in your legs like throbbing or aching, based on the article in Cleveland Clinic.

There are two types of RLS. Early onset is when the diagnosis happens before age 45. This usually runs in your biological family history and the condition progresses slowly. The other one is Late onset which happens when RLS progresses more quickly and a diagnosis happens after age 45.

restless legs syndrome
Psychiatry of Palm Beaches


  • Uncomfortable sensations in your legs that urge you to move
  • When you’re resting, the sensation worsens
  • You feel relieved from discomfort when you move your legs
  • Twitchy legs or leg jerks in the evening and during sleep


  • Genetics – If one of your biological parents has this condition
  • Iron deficiency – Even though you have normal blood levels, iron can be low in your brain
  • Underlying medical condition – Other medical conditions can be the cause of RLS such as iron deficiency, anemia, diabetes, kidney disease, peripheral neuropathy, and substance use disorder.
  • Medications – Some medicines like antihistamines, antidepressants, or antinausea can cause restless legs syndrome or worsen the condition


Medications or changing your routine at home to help relieve the symptoms of RLS. If you have underlying conditions, you can work with your healthcare provider for your treatment.

Here are the medications that could help your condition:

  • Iron supplements, taken with vitamin C
  • Antiseizure medications (gabapentin, pregabalin)
  • Dopamine agonists (pramipexole, ropinirole)
  • Dopamine precursors or medications that turn into dopamine (levodopa)

Other medications for severe cases:

  • benzodiazepines (clonazepam),
  • hypnotics (zolpidem)
  • opioids (methadone, buprenorphine)

Note: These medications can have side effects that may be harmful and can lead to dependence on the medication.

Other sleep disorders that you should know are Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy, Sleepwalking, Sleep Talking, and Sleep Paralysis.

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