How do I overcome Restless Leg Syndrome

Forms of sleep disorders: Restless legs syndrome

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Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) - the syndrome of restless legs - is a neurological disease. Around three to ten percent of Germans are affected, 80 percent of them while sleeping.

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Restless legs syndrome is particularly common in women who have given birth to several children, as well as in older people. Restless legs syndrome can also be an accompanying symptom of pregnancy, anemia or kidney failure.

Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

Tingling, pulling, tensioning and pain in the legs are typical symptoms of restless legs syndrome. The abnormal sensations occur especially before going to sleep, around midnight and in the morning around four o'clock. Often those affected are woken up by this and can only overcome the symptoms by walking around. But the abnormal sensations can also be felt unconsciously in between. This causes the sleeper to move his legs. He doesn't really wake up, but sleep is still disturbed in this case as well. The result is often severe daytime sleepiness.

Therapy with Parkinson's medication

If iron deficiency anemia is the cause of restless legs syndrome, iron replacement therapy can help. In other cases, long-term therapy with Parkinson's medication is advisable - the dopamine agonists in particular are effective. If these medications do not help the patient and if he is plagued by severe sleep disorders, therapy with opioids, anti-epileptics or tranquilizers (sedatives) such as benzodiazepines can be useful.

Positive pressure mask for the combination of sleep apnea and RLS

However, only around 25 percent of patients with restless legs syndrome require therapy, according to the Robert Koch Institute. Drug therapy is often only justified in the case of extreme daytime sleepiness, because dopamine agonists also have a relatively large number of side effects - such as psychoses and nausea.

Restless legs syndrome often occurs together with sleep apnea. In this case, therapy with an overpressure mask not only corrects sleep apnea, but mostly also relieves RLS.
  • Author: Kirsten Gaede, medical journalist, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin; medical quality assurance: Cornelia Sauter, doctor
  • Swell: Dr. Ingo Fietze, Thea Herold, The Sleep Quotient, Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg
  • Robert Koch Institute, Federal Health Reporting, Issue 27: Sleep Disorders, Berlin
  • Interview with Dr. Ingo Fietze, head of the Interdisciplinary Sleep Medicine Center at the Charité
  • Interview with psychologist Sandra Zimmermann from the Interdisciplinary Sleep Medicine Center of the Charité
  • Interview with Dr. Peter Geisler from the Sleep Medicine Center of the University Clinic Regensburg
  • Interview with Michael Maar, respiratory therapist at the Ilse Middendorf Institute in Berlin

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