Sleep Disorders

Since sleeping is such a problem for RLS sufferers it might be helpful to understand sleep and it’s disorders a little better.

Sleep consists of two distinct states: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and NREM (non-REM) sleep. Dreaming occurs mostly in REM sleep. Sleep is a cyclic phenomenon, with four or five REM periods during the night, which accounts for about 25 percent of the total night’s sleep.

Sleep Disorders vary in nature and degree. The three major sleep disorders are dyssomnias (insomnia), hypersomnia (disorders of excessive sleepiness) and parasomnias (abnormal behaviors during sleep).

Since most of the problems with RLS falls under dyssomnias our emphasis will be on insomnia.

Insomnia is the sense of not getting enough sleep to awake refreshed. Although insomnia has myriad causes it is usually found in tense or driven people, those with severe depression or those you have neurologic or other conditions that affect them mainly at night such as Restless Legs Syndrome.

Treatments can vary to include lifestyle changes as well as different medications. The most important thing to remember is to maintain good sleep habits. There are several places to go for tips on sleeping well from health encyclopedias to the internet to doctors, but they all say basically the same thing, pick a routine and stick to it. That routine might include:

  1. Going to bed only when sleepy.
  2. Get up and go to bed at the same time.
  3. Don’t use alcohol, caffeine or nicotine in the evening.
  4. Have a daily exercise routine.
  5. Practice relaxation techniques.
  6. The bedroom should not be too hot or too cold.
  7. Have a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  8. Remove distractions and have white out noises for a quiet sleep if needed.
  9. Have a warm or hot bath before bed.
  10. Don’t eat too late at night.
  11. Enjoy a night stroll or stretches to relieve tension.
  12. Drink warm milk or herbal teas.
  13. Massages at night can help.
  14. Take calcium and magnesium before bedtime.


All of these suggestions can help but choose ones you can live with and will stick to on a daily basis.

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