Do your legs feel like they’re on fire or trembling uncontrollably? You could be experiencing the twitchy legs at night often found in restless legs syndrome (RLS). Consider seeking a sleep therapist if you’re having trouble sleeping due to RLS.
But before you call up the practice down the street, let’s look at what sleep therapy can do for your RLS-related insomnia. In this blog, we’ll cover all the information you need so that you can sleep tight again and find blissful, restful nights.
A Deep Dive; Restless Legs Syndrome and Insomnia
If you’re struggling to sleep due to Restless Legs Syndrome, it’s essential to understand the connection between your RLS symptoms and insomnia. RLS is a nerve disorder that causes a tingling, pulling, or burning feeling in the legs that come and go, often at night. These sensations are commonly accompanied by an urge or compulsion to move the legs, making it difficult for those with RLS to fall or stay asleep. As a result, RLS sufferers can experience ongoing difficulty with sleep, leading to chronic insomnia.
Sleep Therapy Can Effectively Manage RLS Symptoms
In addition to RLS treatment, sleep therapy can be an effective way to manage RLS symptoms. Sleep therapy includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation. CBT helps retrain the brain with new thought patterns, while relaxation techniques help patients focus on calming thoughts and images to reduce stress levels. When combined with medication and lifestyle changes, these types of therapies may be attempted before exploring other alternatives like surgery or biofeedback therapies.
Could Your RLS Syndrome Be Causing Your Insomnia?
If you’re suffering from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), you may not only be dealing with those uncomfortable sensations but also have difficulty sleeping. RLS can cause insomnia, making it difficult to fall, stay, or get quality sleep. Here’s how that pesky syndrome causes insomnia:
How Restless Legs Syndrome Leads to Insomnia?
RLS is associated with dopamine—a chemical messenger that sends signals in your brain that affect movement and behavior. When a person’s dopamine levels are low, RLS can occur, leading to tingling or painful sensations in the arms, legs, or other body parts. And when your body is experiencing such discomfort at night, it can make it very difficult to settle down and rest peacefully.
What’s worse, the lack of sleep caused by RLS can lead to worsening symptoms during the day—creating a frustrating cycle for those who suffer from the condition. Fortunately, there are ways to ease RLS-related insomnia with treatments like sleep therapy and medications. So if you’ve been experiencing difficulty sleeping due to RLS-related discomfort, consider talking to a specialist about how these therapies may help you find relief.
Diagnosing Restless Legs Syndrome and Insomnia
- You must talk to your doctor if you suffer from restless legs syndrome and insomnia. They will want to understand your symptoms and help diagnose the cause of the problem.
- Keeping a log of your sleeping patterns can be helpful so that your doctor understands what’s happening when you’re in bed and trying to sleep. Your doctor may also want to do a physical exam and some lab tests to rule out any other underlying conditions that could be causing the issues.
If you’re diagnosed with restless legs syndrome and insomnia, various RLS treatments may help you manage the combined condition.
- Medications: Many medications can aid in relieving symptoms of both conditions by adjusting dopamine levels in the brain.
- Sleep Therapy: Includes lifestyle adjustments such as avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed, regular physical activity during the day, and keeping a consistent bedtime routine. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a form of sleep therapy that can help if anxiety plays a role in your sleeplessness caused by restless legs syndrome.
- Herbal Supplements: Herbs such as valerian root reduce feelings of restlessness and improve sleep quality when taken for two weeks or longer daily. However, speaking with your doctor before beginning any herbal supplement routine is necessary.