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The Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome and Insomnia

The Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome and Insomnia

Trouble sleeping is typical in today's society, thanks to technology like TVs and cell phones. However, if you only have difficulty sleeping when you have a strange feeling in your legs, you could be dealing with a condition called restless legs syndrome.

Insomnia is sometimes a byproduct of restless legs syndrome that makes daily living difficult and tiresome. The team at Carolina Wellness Psychiatry knows how important sleep is to a productive lifestyle.

If you're dealing with restless legs syndrome and insomnia, Dr. Elizabeth BullardDr. Allison Foroobar, and Dr. Sarah Gilbert can help. These specialists provide customized care to give you the relief you've been searching for.

Understanding restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a frustrating condition that affects how your legs feel at rest. It may be a side effect of a medication or come on from mental or physical problems.

The symptoms associated with restless legs syndrome are significantly different from sensations felt by people without the condition. These symptoms often emerge during periods of rest or sleep and include the following:

Restless legs syndrome typically affects you when you're at rest, like during sleep or when you're not active. Usually, getting up and moving around helps ease your symptoms.

Chronic restless legs syndrome affects you regularly, although you can have periods of remission. If your condition is due to pregnancy or another medical condition, the symptoms often subside when you give birth or when we treat the medical condition.

What is insomnia?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in every three people in the United States reports difficulty sleeping at least one night out of every week. Insomnia is a medical condition that's either acute or chronic.

Insomnia has three main symptoms — difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or waking very early in the morning.

Acute or short-term insomnia is often related to extreme stress or a traumatic event. For example, losing a loved one may result in short-term insomnia. You may also experience insomnia after a trauma such as a car accident or physical altercation.

Chronic insomnia is the result of something else going on in your body. You may have chronic insomnia with certain medical conditions like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.

Some medications also cause chronic insomnia, such as stimulants, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants. Caffeine too close to bedtime may also contribute to insomnia.

How are the two conditions linked?

The symptoms of restless legs syndrome often appear when you're winding down for the day or lying in bed. You may be comfortable enough to fall asleep when the annoying symptoms begin to affect your legs.

Restless legs syndrome often forces you to get up and move to stop the uncomfortable sensations in your legs. It may also start as soon as you lie down to sleep, causing you to kick your legs, squirm in bed, or feel the need to massage your calves or thighs.

Your symptoms may arise as soon as you're comfortable in bed or sometime during the night. Because of this, you may experience insomnia due to your restless legs syndrome.

After you get up and move around to ease your symptoms, you might have trouble getting back to sleep or staying asleep altogether. You can get more than one bout of restless legs syndrome during the night, making sleep even more challenging.

The team members at Carolina Wellness Psychiatry are experts in insomnia and treating the primary cause of the condition. After an exam and history of your sleep disturbances, we customize a treatment plan to help you overcome insomnia by treating your restless legs syndrome.

You can try home remedies such as exercise, warm baths, relaxation techniques, and massage to help your symptoms. If these don't work, we may prescribe you medications to ease discomfort.

If your insomnia persists even with restless legs syndrome treatment, we help you with your sleep hygiene to allow you to finally get some rest.

To get expert help for your insomnia, don't hesitate to call our office at 919-446-3232. You can also request a consultation using our online booking tool.

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