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Sleep Education


American Academy of Sleep Medicine 
  

 
 

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Restless Legs Syndrome - Treatment

The board certified sleep physician may recommend lifestyle changes, medications or a combination to manage your restless legs syndrome.

Behavioral Changes

Behavioral changes to help restless legs syndrome include:

Exercise

Regular exercise such as walking or riding an exercise bike may relieve the symptoms of restless legs syndrome. Exercising too much or at too great of an intensity can actually increase symptoms.

Stress Reduction Techniques

Stress can aggravate restless legs syndrome. Relaxation-promoting activities such as yoga, meditation or other techniques can reduce the symptoms. This approach is especially helpful before bed.

Quit smoking and drink less caffeine and alcohol

Each of these may worsen the symptoms of restless legs syndrome. By avoiding these substances, you may be able to help your restless legs syndrome.

Massage your legs or soak in a hot bath

Both of these can help relax your muscles and alleviate the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

Medications


There are a variety of medications available to treat restless legs syndrome. You may take one medication or a combination of drugs for your restless legs syndrome.

Parkinson's disease medications

These drugs replace a chemical in your brain called dopamine. If you have restless legs syndrome, you are not at increased risk for Parkinson's disease. However, the same medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease are often helpful in treating restless legs syndrome. 

Sleeping pills

Hypnotic sleeping pills may help you fall asleep more easily. 

Certain anti-seizure medications

Drugs used for the treatment of epilepsy may help treat restless legs syndrome. 

Narcotic pain medications

Opoids such as codeine or oxycodone can relieve symptoms of restless legs syndrome. These drugs have a risk of addiction.

Iron treatment

If tests show you have an iron deficiency, a doctor may recommend that you take a supplement. Do not take iron without a doctor's advice. Too much iron can be harmful for your liver.

In some cases, you may build a tolerance to the medications over time. When this happens you will need to talk to your doctor, who may recommend that you change your medication.
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