Restless sleep may occur for a number of reasons. You might find yourself tossing and turning at night due to caffeine intake, eating a large meal before bedtime, stress, a bad mattress, or any number of other reasons. In cases like these, lifestyle changes can often make a difference and can help you to get a better night’s sleep.
For some, restless sleep is caused by restless legs syndrome. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the nervous system in which individuals at rest experience an overwhelming urge to move the legs. Though less common, this restless sensation may occur not only in the legs but in the face, arms, torso and genital region as well. Some individuals experience unpleasant sensations at the same time, such as tingling, creeping, itching, pulling or aching sensations in the legs.
RLS tends to run in families. It may occur secondary to certain conditions like kidney failure, iron deficiency, anemia and pregnancy; however, in its primary form the exact cause is unknown. The majority of those with RLS also suffer from periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) in which individuals experience involuntary leg twitching or jerking movements during sleep. RLS can negatively impact one’s quality of life due to the poor quality of sleep that RLS sufferers experience.
There are no specific tests to diagnose RLS, but blood tests and other exams may be performed to rule out any underlying conditions. Treatment of RLS generally includes easing symptoms, often by making lifestyle changes. Medication may also be prescribed.