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Ten Common Questions About Restless Legs Syndrome

How Can I Get a Good Night's Sleep Despite Restless Legs Syndrome?

Experts agree that simply changing behavior can often help you sleep better with restless legs syndrome. For those with mild to moderate restless legs syndrome, these steps could reduce or prevent symptoms:

  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Cut down on alcohol
  • Stop smoking, or at least cut back
  • Maintain a regular sleep pattern
  • Exercise regularly, but moderately (heavy exercise can worsen symptoms)
  • Apply heat or ice, or soak in a hot bath

When Should I Consider Seeing a Doctor About Restless Legs Syndrome?

No one should live with significant discomfort without discussing their symptoms of restless legs syndrome with a doctor. Even if you feel your symptoms are mild, they might be seriously affecting your sleep.

Only you can decide when your restless legs symptoms are affecting your life. If you have the symptoms of restless legs syndrome, consider if you're also:

  • Losing sleep frequently
  • Feeling depressed or anxious
  • Having trouble concentrating

If any of these are present -- or if you just want to feel better -- it's time to talk to your doctor.

Are There Treatments for Restless Legs Syndrome?

There are three FDA-approved drugs for restless legs syndrome: pramipexole (Mirapex), rotigotine (Neupro), ropinirole (Requip), and gabapentin enacarbil (Horizant). All were proven effective in clinical trials in reducing the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

Physicians also use other medicines not specifically designed for treating restless legs syndrome. These include:

What Else Can I Do to Cope With Restless Legs Syndrome?

Depression and anxiety commonly result from restless legs syndrome. If you have moderate to severe restless legs symptoms, it's important to find ways to cope with the stress it can cause. Here are a few ways to take control:

  • Work with your doctor: Changes or combinations of medicines are often necessary to control symptoms.
  • Join a support group: can get you started.
  • If you feel overwhelmed by restless legs syndrome, consider speaking with a professional mental health provider.

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