Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and Sleep

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Man sitting on bedApproximately one in ten adult Americans suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease. This sleep-related movement disorder is known best for its overwhelming and often unpleasant urges to move the legs while at rest.

The National Sleep Foundation offers a number of resources to help patients who are currently suffering from or think that they may have RLS. Explore the sections below for more information: 

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a neurologic sensorimotor disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs when they are at rest. The urge to move the legs is usually, but not always, accompanied by unpleasant sensations.

It is less common but possible to have RLS symptoms in the arms, face, torso, and genital region. RLS symptoms occur during inactivity and they are temporarily relieved by movement or pressure. Symptoms of RLS are most severe in the evening and nighttime hours and can profoundly disrupt a patient's sleep and daily life.

How Many People Have Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome affects approximately 10% of adults in the U.S. Researchers believe that RLS is commonly unrecognized or misdiagnosed as insomnia or other neurological, muscular or orthopedic condition.

RLS also affects about 2% of children, according to a study of more than 10,000 families in the U.S. and U.K. The study also found a strong genetic component to RLS; more than 70% of children with RLS had at least one parent with the condition. There is also evidence suggesting that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a family history of RLS are at risk for more severe ADHD.

RLS may also be confused with depression. According to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, approximately 40% of people with RLS complain of symptoms that