The symptoms of restless legs syndrome occur most often at night when you are sitting or lying down to rest. It is an uncomfortable feeling in the lower legs and sometimes in the arms. These feelings have been described as "creeping," "crawling," or "aching." Moving the legs or walking relieves these feelings. However, they quickly recur when leg motion stops. The symptoms can make it hard for a person to fall asleep and cause frequent awakenings during the night, after which it can be hard to return to sleep because of the discomfort in the legs. People with RLS may also be sleepy during the day. For some people, the symptoms gradually worsen over time.
Periodic limb movement disorder is a related disorder, in which people move their toes, feet, ankles, or legs during sleep. They may be unaware of these movements during sleep, but a sleep partner may notice them. While most people with RLS also have periodic limb movement disorder, the two disorders are not the same, and most people with periodic limb movement disorder do not have RLS.
These symptoms of RLS or periodic limb movements could also indicate other sleep disorders and should be mentioned to your healthcare provider:
Last reviewed on 10/05/2006
U.S. News's featured content providers were not involved in the selection of advertisers appearing on this website, and the placement of such advertisement in no way implies that these content providers endorse the products and services advertised. Disclaimer and a note about your health.