What is RLS?

Do you have an uncontrollable urge to move your leg? Are you pacing as you read this? Or maybe you're getting up and walking around the room. You may be living with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).1

RLS gets its name from its hallmark symptom—an overwhelming urge to move the legs and sometimes arms or other body parts. Symptoms most often happen in the evening and at night when you are resting—whether lying in bed or relaxing on the couch—and can severely affect sleep and quality of life.1,2

Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, RLS is a neurological disorder. It's more common than you may realize, affecting approximately 1 in 10 adults in the United States. Because RLS can affect sleep, it's also considered a sleep disorder. RLS most often starts in middle age and is more common in women than men. In fact, it is twice as common in women than in men. RLS is also most prevalent in people of northern European descent.1,3

rls affects approximately 1 in 10 adults in the US

Types of RLS

There are 2 types of RLS: primary and secondary. RLS is considered secondary when symptoms are caused by another condition, such as pregnancy, kidney failure, or low iron levels. Once the underlying condition is treated, the symptoms of RLS may resolve.3

Primary RLS, on the other hand, has no known cause. It's the most common type of RLS and tends to run in families. Primary RLS is typically a chronic condition, meaning most people who develop it will always have it.3

What causes RLS

Although the cause of primary RLS is unknown, it is an area that is being actively researched. Recent research has found that RLS may involve a combination of genetics, iron deficiency in the brain, and a malfunction of dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is an important chemical involved in movement and executive functions (memory, planning, organizing). Researchers are working to figure out if and how these factors are related.4,5

RLS: A real impact

If you're living with primary RLS, you know it can have a major impact on your life. The symptoms can significantly affect your ability to fall sleep and stay asleep, and in turn, can impact these aspects of your daily life3:

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Daytime functioning

Your ability to perform necessary activities may be impaired

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You may have difficulty focusing on tasks at work and at home

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Social functioning

RLS can add significant stress to your relationships

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Some people with RLS may feel depressed

RLS can have other effects as well, disrupting your ability to do activities that you need or want to do but that require long periods of sitting such as working at a desk, watching a movie, reading, gardening, sewing, and traveling.1

Research has shown that the impact RLS has on quality life is significant. In a study, over 60% of sufferers reported a negative impact, and 36% reported a highly negative impact. The good news is, there are treatments and coping strategies available.1,6

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Managing RLS

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If RLS is interfering with your life, there are options for you

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