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Combating Restless Leg Syndrome

POSTED
14 May 2018

If you’re one of the 7% of Australians who suffer from RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome), you will understand the frustration associated with the symptoms.

People with RLS feel uncomfortable sensations in their legs, especially when sitting or lying down, accompanied by an irresistible urge to move about. The most distinctive feature of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax brings on the symptoms. Because moving the legs (or other affected parts of the body) relieves the discomfort, people with RLS often keep their legs in motion to minimize or prevent the sensations. They may pace the floor, constantly move their legs while sitting and toss and turn in bed. As a result, many people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

More than 80 percent of people with RLS also experience a more common condition known as periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). PLMD is characterized by involuntary leg twitching or jerking movements during sleep that typically occurs every 10 to 60 seconds, sometimes throughout the night. The symptoms cause repeated awakening and severely disrupted sleep. Unlike RLS, the movements caused by PLMD are involuntary – people have no control over them.

Most people find the symptoms of RLS to be less noticeable during the day and more pronounced in the evening or at night, especially during the onset of sleep. For some people, the symptoms disappear by early morning, allowing for more restful sleep at that time. Other triggering situations are periods of inactivity such as long car trips, sitting in a movie theatre, long-distance flights, immobilisation in a cast, or relaxation exercises.

Studies have shown that deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folic acid, magnesium, and vitamin B may be attributes to RLS.

In a recent study conducted on natural alternative therapies to reduce the symptoms of RLS, participants given a nightly magnesium supplement reported the highest reduction in movement urges while falling asleep as well as the highest increase in restful sleep ratings.

Magnesium has shown to activate over 300 enzyme reactions in the body, translating to thousands of biochemical reactions happening on a constant basis daily. Magnesium is crucial to nerve transmission, muscle contraction and recovery, blood coagulation, energy production, nutrient metabolism and bone and cell formation.

To fall asleep and stay asleep, your body and brain need to relax.  On a chemical level, magnesium aids this process by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for getting you calm and relaxed. 

Although more studies need to be conducted regarding magnesium’s effect on RLS, many people find it to be an effective way of promoting restful sleep.

 

Please note: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Results may vary from individual to individual.

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