Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder where sufferers endure an irresistible urge to move or stretch the muscles in their legs to stop peculiar sensations or discomfort. Some people describe it as feeling like you have ants under your skin. Although often harmless it can be very unpleasant, and all the moving around can have a very negative affect on your sleep. For this reason, it is classed as a sleep disorder.
Although RLS most usually affects the legs, it can affect other parts of the body too such as the torso, head, feet, hands and arms. Temporary relief can only be gained by completing these jerking or stretching motions, again meaning poor quality rest.
Unfortunately there is much about RLS that we’ve yet to understand and the condition is often misunderstood. Despite this, it’s said to affect around 10% of people in the UK, although in reality this figure is likely to be much higher. Sufferers experience their symptoms on a “spectrum”, meaning some people have only mildly annoying sensations whereas others can find it has a massive and intolerable impact on both their sleep and their quality of life in general.
Most RLS symptoms start when the sufferer begins to relax or is tired, like in the evening or when they go to bed. Long, fidgety nights and exhausting days are the result, and over time this can seriously harm a person’s mental health, relationships and employment.
Symptoms of RLS are often:
- Briefly eased by stretching, walking or massaging the area. Unfortunately relief only tends to last for seconds or minutes before the sensations return
- More intense if a sufferer is in a confined space such as in a car, plane or cinema seat, or when they’re relaxing in bed
- Not just confined to legs
- Much more common in adults than children
- Thought to run in families (although not always)
If you or someone you care about is worried about Restless Legs Syndrome, you may find our Kally Knee Pillow can help. Comfortable and ergonomically designed, they’re ideal for restless sleepers or anyone who needs some extra support. It’s also important to speak to a doctor as soon as possible to find out about certain medications and therapy but whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence.