Restless Legs Syndrome and Other Sleep-Related Movement Disorders

Sleep-related movement disorders are a group of disorders in which repetitive movements disturb sleep.


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is also called Willis-Ekborn Disease and is characterized by an uncomfortable urge to move the legs at night, often with other unpleasant sensations. These sensations improve at least briefly with voluntary movement or stretching. Since RLS is worse at night, it tends to be problematic because it interferes with sleep. Many people with RLS will also have periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS). These are brief, involuntary and repetitive movements of limbs (typically toes, feet or legs) during sleep.


When these limb movements disrupt sleep and/or cause excessive sleepiness during the day, it is termed periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). Both RLS and PLMD can be caused by medical conditions such as anemia and kidney disease, or worsened by many medications including most antidepressants. Treatments can include iron replacement (for patients with low blood iron levels) and lifestyle modification. There are also several classes of medications that can help treat sleep-related movement disorders.


Additional Information on Restless Legs Syndrome and Other Sleep-Related Movement Disorders