On Restless Leg Syndrome (Series: Pt .2)

Gary Polk, M.D.

Gary Polk, M.D.

The Role of Genes, Family History and Gender

RLS symptoms are not rare; it is one of the most common movement disorders. Some authors feel that after obstructive sleep apnea, RLS may be the most significant sleep disorder (4). In one circadian study as many as 15% of those surveyed had noted “restlessness of the legs”.

One interesting finding of the survey was that French Canadians had a higher frequency of symptoms compared to Canadians of English descent, indicating a potential genetic role in RLS. Large numbers of patience with RLS symptoms have a positive family history of RLS as well.

Although no specific gene abnormality has been found as a cause of RLS, patients with familial RLS (as compared to sporadic RLS) have an earlier onset and severity of symptoms. Overall it is estimated that the prevalence of RLS is 5-10% of the population. Additionally, there does appear to be an increased frequency in women compared to men by a 2 to 1 margin.

Impact On Quality of Life

RLS can have a significant negative impact on the quality of life. Quality of life surveys often show a decreasein vitality, physical functioning and general health in RLS sufferers compared to the general population. Other quality of life parameters negatively affected include social functioning and mental health. The disturbances caused by RLS were similar to other chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and osteoarthritis.

Poor Sleep

RLS sufferers often complain of poor or restless sleep. Many patients have marked difficult falling asleep at night due to leg discomoft. They also appear to have an increased frequency of awakenings during the night. Patients with RLS tend to spend more time awake during the night than the general population. Also about 80% of RLS patients have associated stereotypical leg movements, known as periodic limb movements of sleep that can disturb their sleep or the sleep of their bed partners.

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Your Sleep Study Experience

This week we have put you in the eyes of a patient taking a sleep study to show you what the experience is like.

Welcome to the ADC Sleep Center.

You have been scheduled for a sleep study. You will be scheduled to begin between 8-9:30PM.

Feel free to bring your normal toiletries and sleep wear. You may also bring your own pillow. Your sleep experience will start with paperwork which allows you to tell us how you’ve spent your day.

To determine if a sleep disorder exists, your physician will need to know what body function changes occur during your night of sleep. They do this by attaching several monitoring sensors to your body.This process takes approx. 30 minutes and allows you time to ask any questions that you may have.

  • Our first goal will be to determine when you go to sleep and what stages of sleep you reach. We do this by recording your brainwave patterns as well as your eye movements.
  • We monitor your heart rate to see if you have any irregular heart beats during your sleep.
  • A sensor on your finger will monitor if your body is receiving the amount of oxygen it needs.
  • One of the most common reasons a sleep study happens is because of snoring. To measure, we will apply a small microphone to your neck.
  • Often people will have leg movements at night, which can disrupt your sleep. We will put sensors on your shins to measure this.
  • We’ll monitor your air flow to see if you stop breathing during the night. If the technician notices abnormal breathing patterns, they may awaken you early in the study to apply a breathing mask for the night which will ensure normal breathing patterns.

An intercom in the room will allow for communication in case you have any questions or need to go to the bathroom during the night. Technicians will be available throughout your study but will not disturb you unless absolutely necessary.

Your study will conclude at around 6am the next morning. Congratulations, you have completed your sleep study, and we will schedule a meeting to review your results.

What next?

Check out the video below to see what you will learn from your sleep study.

Call us at 806.356.5522 or check out or website to learn more about our Sleep Center.