What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS)—also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a neurological disorder that causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in your legs and an irresistible urge to move them. Symptoms commonly occur in the late afternoon or evening hours and are often most intense at night when you are resting. RLS can severely disrupt your sleep, making it difficult to fall asleep or return to sleep after waking up. Moving the legs or walking typically relieves the discomfort but the sensations often reoccur once the movement stops.
Is There A Relationship Between Sleep Disorders and Dementia?
RLS is associated with poor sleep, depression/anxiety, poor diet, microvasculopathy, and hypoxia ― all of which are known risk factors for dementia. However, the relationship between RLS and incident dementia has been unclear.
Researchers note that RLS may be a sign of reduced cognitive function, leading to dementia, and they suggest that RLS could be regarded as a “newly identified” risk factor for dementia.
Can This Risk Factor Be Reduced?
More and more research show sleep as a modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline.
Previous evidence indicated that both sleep apnea and insomnia disorder increase the risk for cognitive decline and possibly dementia. New studies add to this body of evidence linking sleep disorders to dementia, suggesting that RLS should also be considered as a sleep-related risk factor.
More evidence is needed, though, as it is likely there were missed diagnoses not only for RLS but also for other sleep disorders, as there was no systematic screening for them.
To learn more about Restless Legs Syndrome or Sleep Disorders or if you feel that you or someone you know may be suffering from it or having trouble sleeping, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 614-866-8200. We have 7 locations in Ohio to serve you!