Can You Get Restless Leg Syndrome as a Child?

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder in which you move your legs uncontrollably to overcome the discomfort you experience when laying down. Moving seems to ease the discomfort momentarily. Restless leg syndrome can disrupt your sleep, become worse with time, and reduce your quality of life if not treated. The condition is not just something adults deal with; children can have restless leg syndrome, too.

How Do I Know If My Child Has Restless Leg Syndrome?

More than a million children in the U.S. suffer with restless leg syndrome. It is a neurological disorder that often runs in families. The most common symptom of RLS is the urge to move your legs; some children will also have leg jerking and twitching throughout the night. Symptoms of RLS get worse throughout the day and can be aggravated by sitting for an extended period of time (in a car, at school). Your child might complain of leg pain or itching.

Impact on Children

If your child has restless leg syndrome, you may find it difficult to keep them in bed. They may have trouble falling asleep but may also have trouble articulating why. They may make excuses to get out of bed because they need to stretch their legs. RLS can cause your child to be sleepy during the day. They may get in trouble more at school for inattentiveness, and they may struggle to keep their grades up.

How Is Restless Leg Syndrome Treated in Children?

Once restless leg syndrome has been diagnosed, normally with an overnight sleep study, treatment options can be discussed. Treatment can include increasing the amount of activity the child has, changing bedtime routines, and using heat, cold compress, or massage to relieve the discomfort. Your child should not consume caffeine, as caffeine will exacerbate the symptoms of RLS. Your physician may want to check your child’s iron level or recommend iron supplements.

If you believe you may be suffering from RLS, it is important to see a doctor who specializes in sleep medicine in order to properly diagnose and treat your condition. Dr. Malhotra is a trusted sleep specialist, who is known for diagnosing and treating all kinds of sleep disorders. Call (203) 653-3519 today, or schedule an appointment using this form.

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