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Restless Leg Syndrome

Does your loved one suffer from uncontrollable sleepiness during the day? Is he or she getting the necessary amount of necessary sleep to wake feeling refreshed and ready to face the day?

Individuals with Willis-Ekborn Disease suffer from this affliction. You may know it better as Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). This malady is characterized by an irresistible urge to scratch an uncontrollable itch or “creepy-crawly” feeling in one’s legs. This sensation can also happen in other extremities, often when someone is trying to fall asleep.

If you notice that your loved one is sleepy during the day perhaps you should take him or her to the doctor to have the affliction diagnosed properly. To prepare for the doctor visit, have your loved one keep a sleep diary for 2 weeks. Write down the time of waking and going to bed each night and how many times he woke during the night. Also keep track of what time during the day or night the symptoms are experienced and if your loved one consumed any caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and/or medication, and any exercise performed during the day.

During the office visit, you physician should review your medical history and complete a thorough physical exam. He may also check your loved one’s iron levels.

Treating this syndrome can be done effectively if diagnosed early. Change your loved one’s diet, including caffeine intake. Institute a regular exercise program for him or her. You can also have your loved one take hot baths or get leg massages.

Medications that help with the symptoms include dopinamergic drugs that can regulate the amount of dopamine in one’s brain. Mirapex, Neupro and Requip are FDA approved for this treatment. Anticonvulsants or antiseizure medications like Tegretol, Lyrica and Neurontin can also be of some help in relieving symptoms. Make sure to review all of your medicines though, perhaps some of them have antihistamiines in them, which can cause a person to stay awake and trigger the symptoms of RLS.

Getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important for all people, and for older adults it is extremely important because it helps improve concentration, refreshes the immuion system and allows the body time to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day. Also, people who are sleep are at a greater risk for falls or other injuries.

Most adults need 8 to 9 hours per day, so you need to make sure your loved one is “setting the table” for a successful night’s sleep. Preparation is key, because your loved one needs to wind down before going to sleep. Perhaps deep breathing, stretching, and yoga in combination can provide a relaxed restful sleep.

Resouces: Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation, WebMD, Helpguide.org