What is the role of restless legs syndrome (RLS) in the etiology of insomnia?

Updated: Sep 11, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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RLS is a sleep disorder characterized by the following:

  • An urge to move the legs, usually accompanied by uncomfortable and unpleasant physical sensations in the legs

  • Symptoms begin or worsen during periods of rest or inactivity such as lying or sitting

  • Symptoms are partially or totally relieved by moving, such as walking or stretching, at least as long as the activity continues

  • Symptoms are worse or occur only in the evening or at night

RLS may be associated with periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), which is characterized by repetitive periodic leg movements that occur during sleep. If RLS is predominant, sleep-onset insomnia is generally present; if PLMD is predominant, sleep-maintenance insomnia is more likely.

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