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
- Can't Curb the Urge to Move? Living with Restless Legs Syndrome (National Institutes of Health)
- Restless Legs Syndrome (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- Restless Legs Syndrome (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Restless Legs Syndrome (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Also in Spanish
- What Is Restless Legs Syndrome? (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
- Genetics Home Reference: restless legs syndrome (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)
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