What is restless leg syndrome? Sleep condition on the rise in Bristol

It’s said that insomnia is the most common sleep condition in the world, often resulting in sleepless nights and irritability throughout the waking day.

New research by Sleepseeker analyzed the most searched for sleep conditions in the UK and around the world and found the top five problems were insomnia, sleep apnea, sleep paralysis, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome.

But what is restless leg syndrome? And why is Bristol home to the most sufferers?

READ MORE: Covid-19: Experts find new symptom is causing ‘scary’ night-time experiences

According to the NHS website: “Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a common condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming irresistible urge to move the legs.”

Symptoms may include an overwhelming urge to move your legs, and an unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the feet, calves and thighs. The arms can also be affected too.

The website also states: “Restless legs syndrome is also associated with involuntary jerking of the legs and arms, known as periodic limb movements (PLM). Some people have the symptoms of restless legs syndrome occasionally, while others have them every day. can vary from mild to severe. In severe cases, restless legs syndrome can be very distressing and disrupt a person’s daily activities.”

Although there is no immediate cause for this condition, in some cases an underlying health condition such as kidney failure or iron deficiency anaemia can be a trigger.

The UK locations where each sleep condition is most prominent:

Rank County Sleep condition/s
1 The City of London Bedwetting, Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, Exploding Head Syndrome, Hypersomnia, Hypnic Jerks, Insomnia, Kleine Levin Syndrome, Narcolepsy, Nightmares, Parasomnia Rem Sleep Disorder, Sleep Apnea, Sleep Paralysis, Sleep Texting, Sleeping, Snoring
2 Bristol Restless Leg Syndrome, Shift Work Disorder
3 The Isle of Wight Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder
4 Herefordshire Sleep Talking

Here are five top tips for a better night’s sleep:

1. Create a bedtime routine

This can include reading a book, listening to podcasts, washing your face and brushing your teeth. By keeping a regular routine, you will find regular sleep comes much more naturally.

2. Avoid stimulants and other drugs

Stimulants, such as caffeine, are extremely unhelpful if you’re trying to fall asleep. They keep your brain and body switched on just when you want them to switch off. To get the best night’s sleep, you should avoid consuming caffeine or other stimulants for several hours before bedtime.

3. Avoid blue light



Our phones could be keeping us up at night

Blue light is given off by the screens on our phones, televisions and computers, and can have a disturbing effect on sleep quality. To avoid this impacting your own sleep, try to avoid looking at screens immediately before bed, and maybe impose a ban on screens in the bedroom altogether.

4. Don’t sleep in a stuffy room

Air quality can have a massive impact on how restorative our sleep is, as sleeping in a stuffy room means your body has to work a lot harder to get the oxygen it needs. Keep your bedroom fresh and full of clean air in several ways, the simplest of which is to leave the window open. Other options include having house plants in the bedroom or using air filters to keep the air clean and remove unwanted dust particles.

5. Find the right pillow

Just like with mattresses, your sleeping position will usually determine what firmness of the pillow is right for you. Soft pillows with low loft are more suitable front sleepers, while side sleepers may benefit from firmer pillows with high loft. If you sleep on your back, then a medium pillow with moderate loft is often the correct choice, though if you move about in your sleep you may benefit from a pillow that is moldable, such as a memory foam pillow.

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