Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs at night or after long periods of inactivity. This sensation is accompanied by an irresistible urge to move the legs. Because symptoms happen most often at night, RLS is classified as a sleep disorder; the urge to move the legs makes continuous sleep difficult. About ten percent of Americans are affected by RLS, and slightly more women appear to experience the disorder. It can begin at almost any age, though individuals middle-aged and older are more likely to develop RLS, as the symptoms become more frequent and last longer.
Doctors are unsure what causes RLS. They suspect it is genetically passed down through genetics, and in such cases, people tend to begin experiencing symptoms prior to the age of 40. There is some evidence that low levels of iron in the brain may cause RLS. Recent research has discovered a link to a lack of dopamine, which facilitates smooth muscle activity, in the part of the brain that controls movement. Pregnant women in their last trimester are prone to getting RLS, although it usually goes away within a month of childbirth.
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