After eight long, taxing hours of work, you want nothing more than to lie on the couch, blindly watching television and doing nothing. Every inch of you is exhausted, prepared for inertia . . . except for your legs. They rebel the moment you recline. A nagging, gnawing sensation creeps through them, driving you to move. You resist for as long as you can, but the feeling worsens. You are forced to stand, to run circles around your house or to bounce neurotically in an attempt to lessen the urge. It’s not the first time this has happened. It won’t be the last, for this isn’t simply a rare desire for physical activity. This is restless legs syndrome (RLS).
RLS affects an estimated 12 million Americans, rendering them incapable of sleeping through the night or resting comfortably. It is a neurological condition with unknown causes but serious effects. Untreated, it can lead to exhaustion, daytime fatigue and the inability to sleep through the night. Treated or not, it can double the risk of heart disease or stroke, making the uncontrollable need to move deadly. A cure is yet undiscovered and most treatments (activity, leg massages, hot baths, ice packs etc.) offer only temporary relief. So the best thing to do about RLS is prevent it, but how when there are no known causes?
It’s a difficult question with uncertain answers. Doctors recommend maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, and limited amounts of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. It’s also suggested that any nutrient deficiencies, particularly a lack of iron, folate or magnesium, be rectified, as RLS has been linked to anemia and similar conditions.
Sadly, there is no surefire way to avoid triggering RLS, but hopefully you can find a way to put it off. The longer you do the longer you’ll be able to rest in peace and the less likely a cardiovascular problems will be.
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