Insomnia is a disorder that occurs when you have difficulty falling asleep and is a widespread problem, especially in the elderly.
Staying awake in bed at night is one of the most unpleasant sensations you can experience. Furthermore, this also significantly affects the quality of life, because we never feel rested, fueling stress and anxiety.
In this article we will talk about a syndrome that could heavily affect the quality of sleep and that not everyone is familiar with.
In fact, aching legs and feet that never stand still during the night could be the symptom of this annoying syndrome.
Restless Legs Syndrome, or Willis-Ekbom disease, is a neurological disorder that affects at least 1 in 10 people, mostly middle-aged.
Patients who suffer from it experience, usually during the night, a feeling of discomfort in the legs with the urgent need to move them. Some people have this disorder occasionally, while others may experience it every day as well. In severe cases, this disease could seriously affect the quality of sleep causing severe states of stress, anxiety and depression.
These sensations, sometimes even painful, are similar to tingling or burning, perceived inside the affected limbs, which sometimes lead to itching. Many people, for example, describe this discomfort as sparkling water flowing through the veins in the legs.
The causes of the disease are currently unknown, but several studies have shown that the origin could be genetic.
As reported by the National Institute of Health, some specialists believe that restless legs syndrome is associated with alterations in the dopamine level.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that, acting as a messenger, carries information to specific neurons, thus coordinating the action of the body’s muscles.
However, when there is reduced dopamine production, muscle spasms and involuntary movements may occur.
Other causes and triggers
So we have seen that aching legs and feet that never stand still during the night could be a symptom of this annoying syndrome.
However, it could also appear as a complication of other diseases. These could include diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia or kidney failure.
Or it could be associated with iron deficiency anemia, which usually causes a drop in dopamine.
In addition to this, this disorder could be a side effect due to the use of certain medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or antihistamines.
Finally, it could appear in cases of obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, or abuse of alcohol, cigarette smoking and caffeine.
Therapies and prevention
In milder cases, therefore not associated with other diseases, it is first of all important to change your lifestyle. For example, smoking should be quit, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and avoiding medications that can make the situation worse.
Before going to sleep, it may be helpful to do some stretching, reading, massaging your legs, or taking a nice warm bath instead.
In any case, it is essential to consult your doctor to check whether it is appropriate to undertake drug therapy.