8 Tips to Treat Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

The House Call Doctor explains the confusing and frustrating symptoms of RLS and gives 8 treatment options so you can stop counting sheep and get a good night's sleep.

Sanaz Majd, MD
4-minute read
Episode #135

House Call Doctor and Grammar Girl Discuss Restless Leg Syndrome

Have you been told by your spouse that you “fidget” in the middle of the night?  Or have you noticed your legs or feet may have a mind of their own when you’re trying to fall asleep?  Do you have an urge to move your legs a lot at bedtime?  You may very well be one of the many people who remain undiagnosed with the condition called Restless Legs Syndrome, or RLS. 

For those who have never experienced RLS, it may seem like a very odd and peculiar phenomenon.  But if you’ve ever had these symptoms, you may be surprised to learn that this is an actual medical condition. Maybe you’ve already mentioned it to your doctor, or maybe you never realized it was real until now.  Either way, let’s find out more about Restless Legs Syndrome and how it’s treated..

What Is RLS?

I’ve actually discussed RLS in a previous episode on insomnia, and you may want to revisit that episode before moving on to this one.  But in a nutshell, here are the symptoms that up to 10% of the American population are estimated to be suffering from:

  • An urge to move or kick the legs or feet
  • A creepy-crawly or strange sensation in the legs that’s felt deep inside, under the skin
  • Occurs only at rest
  • Relieved by movement temporarily
  • Worse at nighttime, especially bedtime
  • Usually felt in both legs equally

RLS can be genetic.  If you ask your family members if they experience any of these symptoms, their answers may very well surprise you.  Some people live with this all their lives and never mention it to anyone, especially if the symptoms are mild and infrequent. 

It also tends to affect women twice as much as men, and the prevalence seems to increase with age (more and more people get diagnosed the older they get).  Most people report experiencing their very first symptom sometime between the ages of 11 and 20. 

Also, those with diabetes, anemia, kidney disease, other neurologic conditions (such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis), and those who are pregnant can be more predisposed to RLS.  But most people with RLS don’t suffer from any of these other conditions.


Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.