Restless Legs Syndrome and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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Restless Legs Syndrome and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Restless legs syndrome (#RLS) is a condition marked by a strong urge to move the legs along with symptoms of unpleasant sensations in the legs while resting and sleeping. For people suffering with obstructive sleep apnea (#OSA), these disturbances are especially problematic as it prevents you from getting the sleep so important to good health.

The condition is common, and the exact cause is unknown. Abnormalities in the brain, nervous disorders and hereditary factors play a role.

Unfortunately, RLS and OSA are two conditions that are more likely to develop as a person grows older. While anyone at any age can be affected by either condition, those over the age of 40 are more likely to have OSA, and when it comes to RLS, many who experience severe symptoms are older, with symptoms typically becoming more frequent and lasting longer as time goes on.

RLS Symptoms include:

  • Tingling, burning, itching, or throbbing
  • A creepy- crawly feeling
  • Feeling like fizzy (carbonated) water is inside the blood vessels in the legs
  • A painful, cramping sensation in the legs, particularly in the calves
  • Leg jerking

Self-care practices and medications can help manage the condition but there is no known cure. Sleep apnea being a common companion condition to RLS, data has shown that if sleep apnea can be controlled with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, RLS symptoms may ease.

Specific habits, such as drinking alcohol in the hours before bed and smoking, can lower sleep quality and make both RLS and OSA worse. Caffeine can also negatively impact both conditions, though each person’s tolerance to caffeine differs.

For more information on RLS and OSA see the links provided below.