Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition which causes sensations of restlessness in the legs (and sometimes in the arms) during relaxation in the evening or when trying to get to sleep. Patients with RLS often describe the symptoms as being uncomfortable, irritating, or a ‘creepy-crawly’ feeling, and find it essential to move their limbs in order to obtain relief.

Some studies report that restless legs syndrome affects 5-10% of the population in some countries and has a strong genetic basis

RLS often contributes to symptoms of depression and anxiety, particularly when marked sleep-deprivation and sleep-disruption occur. Other research work suggests it may lead cardiovascular disease although this is controversial. It does impair quality of life and can be treated by a range of different medications.

Our research in RLS has involved clinical medication trials and understanding the neurobiology of RLS through detailed brain imaging. Although many patients with RLS are managed in general practice we offer a special service for patients with hard to treat RLS or where the diagnosis is difficult.

Sleep pattern of a restless legs syndrome patient (red) vs. a healthy sleep pattern (blue)

Sleep pattern of a restless legs syndrome patient (red) vs. a healthy sleep pattern (blue)