Restless Legs Syndrome (Willis-Ekbom Disease) and Periodic Limb Movements

Richard P. Allen

in The Oxford Handbook of Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195376203
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Restless Legs Syndrome (Willis-Ekbom Disease) and Periodic Limb Movements

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Restless legs syndrome (RLS) also known as the Willis-Ekbom Disease (WED) is the second or third most common sleep disorder. It is characterized by an urge to move the legs (focal akathisia), engendered by rest relieved by movement, and occurring mostly in the evening or night. It has a wide range of severity ranging from some symptoms during a year for about 7% to very disturbing symptoms occurring more than weekly for about 2%–4% of Americans and Europeans. It has a well-established biological basis involving abnormal iron metabolism, and it is associated with allelic variations on four different genes. Moderate to severe WED produces a profound chronic insomnia with nightly sleep times reduced to 5 to 5.5 hours. It also impairs daytime functioning and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Mild WED can usually be managed with behavioral and lifestyle treatments. Moderate to severe WED usually requires adding pharmacological management.

Keywords: restless legs syndrome; periodic leg movements; iron; dopamine; genetics; sleep loss; urge to move; akathisia; circadian

Article.  11672 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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