Sleep, Pain Management, Neurological Health, Mental Health, Heart Disease

Sleep, Pain Management

9 Facts to Know About Restless Legs Syndrome

It isn't just about the legs:

10/23/2021 12:56:00 PM

It isn't just about the legs:

Restless legs syndrome can be a nightmare.

4. RLS can cause another sensory issue called periodic limb movements of sleep.In addition to the (sometimes literal) pain associated with falling asleep, it’s estimated that more than 80 percent of individuals with RLS also experience periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS), the

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says. These are basically involuntary leg and/or arm spasms that can happen as often as every 15 to 40 seconds all night long, causing constant disruptions that might further harm your sleep.It appears as though blood pressure and heart rateduring these jerky movements, which is why some experts posit that PLMS and, relatedly, RLS may raise a person’s risk of heart issues over time.

5. Primary RLS happens with no known cause.“When you’re dealing with the brain, it’s very complex,” John Winkelman, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Sleep Disorders Clinical Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells SELF. “There are no simple explanations.”

With that in mind, let’s talk about possible causes of primary (or idiopathic) RLS, which is when doctors can’t pinpoint an underlying reason why someone has this condition.One major theory revolves around the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is necessary for creating and maintaining normal muscle movement, according to the

. Some experts think malfunctions in the dopamine pathway can create the uncontrollable movements involved in disorders like RLS.It also appears that there is a hereditary element. A 2017 study inanalyzed DNA from 428,534 people, concluding that there are at least 19 genetic risk variants for RLS. Additional research is needed to understand the link between these genes and the biological component of RLS.

6. Secondary RLS is tied to specific risk factors.For instance, doctors believe that an iron deficiency may predispose a person to RLS. One theory is that low levels of iron can impact dopamine signaling; another is that RLS genetic risk variants may affect iron stores.

Read more: SELF »

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