What is restless legs syndrome (RLS)?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is an uncomfortable feeling in the legs, usually in the evening or night, that is relieved by movement. RLS can make it hard for a child to fall asleep at bedtime or to fall back to sleep during the night.
Formally, RLS is defined by four things:
(1) an uncomfortable sensation or unexplainable urge to move the legs or other affected body part
(2) increasing symptoms with rest or inactivity
(3) a relief of discomfort with movement
(4) an enhancement of symptoms in the evening or night.
What else can possible RLS symptoms effect, and how early can these symptoms show up?
Children, of course, if old enough to talk and communicate, can often describe RLS symptoms in their own words. The RLS may have a significant impact on sleep, mood, cognition, as well as daytime educational and behavioral functioning. During the day, children with RLS may have difficulty sitting quietly at a desk and paying attention and/or problems with irritability and hyperactivity, which may lead a health care provider to consider the possibility of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Symptoms of RLS may start as early as the first year of life. Infants may slap their own legs to relieve the discomfort. Older ones may ask their parents to massage their legs to provide relief from the uncomfortable feelings. Symptoms of RLS may be related to low serum ferritin level (a type of blood iron level). If you are concerned that your child has RLS, be sure to talk to your child’s health care provider or a pediatric sleep specialist.
About Dr. Oliviero Bruni