Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is an uncomfortable sensation in the legs causing an overwhelming urge to move them. This neurological disorder is thought to affect 10 percent of the population in the United States. However, many health care professionals do not even recognize this as a real disorder. Both my mother and I suffer from this problem. I didn’t start experiencing symptoms until I was about 16. However, RLS can start at any age.
My RLS symptoms are far less severe than my mother’s symptoms. RLS affects me most right before bed. I find that as soon as I get comfortable in my bed, I seem to have an extremely uncomfortable tingling sensation in one or both of my legs. This causes both my partner and myself to lose sleep. My partner can’t go to sleep because I am constantly fidgeting, and I can’t go to sleep until I can find a position that does not cause my legs to tingle.
There are a couple things I try to do to relieve my RLS symptoms. I find that if I work out my legs more during the day, then my restless legs don’t cause as much trouble. I have to walk at least a mile for a fifty-fifty chance of not having RLS symptoms at night. Another thing I try is to put a pillow between my legs at night. This causes my legs to tingle less, but I also can’t rollover at night if the pillow is between my legs. If I find that my RLS symptoms continue for more than ten minutes, then I try to get up and stretch my leg muscles. Doing this normally causes my symptoms to stop or become less severe.
My mother doesn’t just have RLS symptoms at night, but she also experiences them during the day. I remember, as a child, being embarrassed to go to the moves with my mom because she would have to stand up halfway through the film. Her legs bothered her that much. We tried to sit in the very back as often as possible so as not to disturb people with my mom’s restless legs.
My family had the same issue with my mother on flights. She would be that annoying person that always had to get up and walk the aisles during the flight. She also had to get the aisle seat so she had more room for her fidgety legs.
For my mother, nothing seems to help her restless legs. Many people believe that performing meditation, cutting down on caffeine, not drinking alcohol, and sleeping regularly can help relieve restless leg problems. For my mother, doing these things does not help. As her family, we just have to suffer through her restless legs, no matter how embarrassing it can get. Restless legs syndrome is not just a problem for the person with the disorder, but also for family and friends of that person.