Restless legs syndrome (RLS) causes a powerful urge to move your legs. Your legs become uncomfortable when you are lying down or sitting. Some people describe it as a creeping, crawling, tingling, or burning sensation. Moving makes your legs feel better, but not for long. RLS can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.
In most cases, there is no known cause for RLS. In other cases, RLS is caused by a disease or condition, such as anemia or pregnancy. Some medicines can also cause temporary RLS. Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol may make symptoms worse.
Lifestyle changes, such as regular sleep habits, relaxation techniques, and moderate exercise during the day can help. If those don't work, medicines may reduce the symptoms of RLS.
Most people with RLS also have a condition called periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). PLMD is a condition in which a person's legs twitch or jerk uncontrollably, usually during sleep. PLMD and RLS can also affect the arms.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Restless Legs Syndrome -- Causes and Symptoms (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Restless Legs Syndrome -- Self-Tests and Diagnosis (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)
- Sleep Study (Polysomnogram) (Nemours Foundation)
- Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) and Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) (Merck & Co., Inc.) Also in Spanish
- restless legs syndrome: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Restless Legs Syndrome (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Acupuncture and related techniques for restless legs syndrome: A protocol for...
- Article: Gray matter alterations in restless legs syndrome: A coordinate-based meta-analysis.
- Article: Patterns of Gray Matter Volume Alterations in Hemodialysis Patients With and...
- Restless Legs -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Find a Sleep Center Near You (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Also in Spanish