Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) 

Do you or your child/teen exhibit some of the following symptoms:

   Complain that their legs ache or tingle when sitting down for longer periods of  time or when going to bed?
   Do other family members complain of this problem at night?  
   Fidget when sitting still for long periods of time?
   Have difficulty falling asleep at night or waking up with tingling or aching legs?                                                           

  Kick or roll around frequently in sleep?
If you or your child/teen exhibit some of these symptoms of RLS then you need to do an on-line screening to find if there is a high probability of RLS and what you can do to correct it.  RLS can prevent you from getting enough deep, restful sleep, which can negatively effect daytime behaviors and learning. 

Find out if you or your child/teen may have RLS and what you can do to decrease or correct it and improve daytime performance. 

Screen yourself or your child by clicking the button below:

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Most adults and parents are unaware of one of the major sleep disorders that can cause many daytime and nighttime behavior problems:  Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) can be the cause of these problems.  RLS causes children and adults to have lots of difficulty falling asleep due to aching, cramping, or tingling leg sensations that are very uncomfortable.  The child or adolescent sometimes exhibits lots of bedtime resistance or refuses to go to sleep until late at night when the child finally collapses into exhausted sleep.  After the person is asleep, s/he may exhibit lots of restless sleep, including frequent leg kicking, leg or arm jerking movements, and rolling around excessively that interrupts deep sleep.  These frequent leg kicking or jerking movements in sleep are called Periodic Limp Movement Disorder (PLMD).  This interruption of deep sleep often results in the individual feeling tired during the daytime and exhibiting a difficult temperament - showing lots of irritability, oppositional behaviors, expressing excessive frustration, anger, or yelling during the daytime.  Most of these children and adults with RLS and PLMD display many symptoms of Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or may have a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD and are being treated for this disorder or other disorders like Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, or other mental health disorders.  The good news is that if the Restless Legs Syndrome can be corrected, and it is pretty easy to correct, many of these day- and nighttime behavior problems improve.  Therefore, if you or your child / adolescent exhibits any of these above-mentioned daytime or sleep behavior problems, please read the information below and find out how to do an on-line screening and get treatment for RLS:

Restless Legs Syndrome is a frequently occurring leg movement disorder, especially in teenagers and adults.  The person experiences uncomfortable searing or tingling leg sensations causing irresistible urges to move the legs.  These uncomfortable sensations begin or become worse when the child or adult sits or lies down at night.  These restless leg sensations are sometimes relieved by leg movements, which can disrupt sleep.  Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) frequently occurs together with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (about 70-80% of the time).

The childhood incidence rates for Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and Restless Legs Syndrome are unknown at this time because they are newly discovered sleep disorder in children that are usually diagnosed as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) because the child displays the characteristics of ADHD.  However, the prevalence rate for Restless Legs Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder could be much higher than initially estimated.  Some RLS research findings suggest that it may be as high as 5-10% in children.  There is a lack of awareness about these newly discovered sleep disorders; therefore, many professionals are diagnosing these children as ADHD and prescribing ADHD medications.  The ADHD medications may help control the child’s daytime behaviors somewhat, but they do not correct the child’s nighttime sleep problems and reduce the child’s irritability and daytime behavior problems to the degree that the treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder helps.  The incidence rate of PLMD and RLS increases with age.  Some incidence rate surveys have reported that 9-to-15% of the adult population has either Periodic Limb Movement Disorder or Restless Legs Syndrome, or both together.  The incidence rate of RLS in adults over 60 years old may be as high as 34%.  If you think you may have PLMD or RLS and your sleep is suffering because of it, do an on-line screening immediately because it is easily corrected and you will feel much happier, energetic, motivated, and you will be able to accomplish much more every day with a good night's sleep!

Restless Legs Syndrome is correctable or can usually be improved significantly with medication taken before bedtime that diminishes or stops the restless leg sensations.  Some sleep specialists are prescribing Neurontin, Mirapex, Clonadine or L-Dopa before bedtime. Neurontin, Mirapex, and L-Dopa reduce or stop the uncomfortable restless leg sensations so that the student gets a restful night’s sleep. The Clonadine helps the student fall asleep quicker so that s/he gets a longer night’s sleep.  However, Clonadine does not stop Restless Legs Syndrome sensations or periodic limb movements during sleep, but tends to sedate and knock the child out so s/he does not notice the uncomfortable leg sensations or periodic limb movements.  Both Neurotin and Clonadine have been used successfully with children for many years, whereas Mirapex and L-Dopa use with children is newer and there is less  information available about long-term side effects in children.

Many sleep specialists have reported that Neurotin appears to be the safest of these medications for children, although it has been known to cause some moodiness, crying, and depressive tendencies in a few children.  These side effect subsides with discontinuation of the Neurotin.

A brand new and more benign form of treatment may be 12 weeks of iron supplement therapy in cases where the child may have a Serum Ferritin deficiency causing Restless Legs Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.  Serum Ferritin is contained within iron and helps the body and brain to process the iron and deliver it to the frontal lobe of the brain.  A pediatrician can order a simple and inexpensive blood sample taken to check the child or adolescent’s serum ferritin level and determine if a deficiency exists.  It is important to check the serum ferritin level, not the iron level.  A child can have a serum ferritin deficiency, but a normal iron level.  This is the simplest and quickest form of treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.  Based on new research in the field of pediatric sleep medicine, iron supplements for a low serum ferritin level seem to be effective in treating approximately 25% of children who have Restless Legs Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and ADHD.

With treatment, the child or adult  falls asleep easier and gets a deep, restful night’s sleep, resulting in improvements in daytime concentration, behaviors, and work production.  Furthermore, where ADD or ADHD-like characteristics exist, they often decrease, or in some cases, disappear completely with treatment of the Restless Legs Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.  However, if the person has severe ADHD characteristics, sleep specialists are reporting that although the symptoms decrease significantly with these treatments for Restless Legs Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movements Disorder, the ADHD behaviors may not disappear completely, but they often decrease in frequency and intensity.  Recent research by sleep specialists indicates that at least 25% of the children who have a diagnosis of ADHD may truly have Restless Legs Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder or a combination of the two.

One sleep specialist reported that approximately 64% of children in a study with ADHD had Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and/or Restless Legs Syndrome (Picchietti et al, 1999).  Several other sleep specialists report findings of approximately 25%.  Although this estimate seems very high, it would be prudent to consult a sleep specialist with training in this area if you or a child / teen has a diagnosis of ADHD and you suspicion s/he has Restless Legs Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.  Especially this is true if you screen yourself or your child / adolescent and obtain high scores on the Periodic Limb Movement Disorder scale of the Sleep Disorder Inventory for Students–Children’s Form or the Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)/Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) scale of the Sleep Disorders Inventory for Students–Adolescent Form.  If you would now like to screen your child / teen for Restless Legs Syndrome or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder with the Sleep Disorders Inventory for Students, please click onto “Parent Screen Your Child” here or the button at the top of this page.

The ActiGraph device measures nighttime limb movements and sleep patterns.  

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