Where does stress fit into the nightm... - Restless Legs Syn...

Restless Legs Syndrome

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Where does stress fit into the nightmare that is rls.

Tonkaman profile image

Laid awake flicking last night I started to wonder. Is it stress agrivates rls =sleepless nights = anxiety =stress =rls and so on I tend to keep a sleep or should I say awake diary and that doesn't really help as the rls is always there wether or not I feel stressed but then I have to ask over the last 20or so yrs have I got used to not sleeping for nights on end. Any thoughts would be appreciated 😤😤😤

5 Replies

Chicken and egg situation.

If my RLS is off I don't sleep properly or rest and my stress levels go up.

If my stress levels go up I can't sleep properly and my RLS goes up.

Most if not all illnesses have a psychological component and as such the mental and physical systems should be looked at in tandem and not as separate unconnected entities.

Unfortunately so many are told these sorts of illness are 'in your head' that there is a reluctance to admit the psychological component. However if you look at elevated blood pressure as one example - emotions such as anger and feelings of stress have a physiological response and make the BP worse.

PLUS to muddy the waters Insomnia can cause a whole host of serious problems. The more the chronic sleep deprivation and unease we experience the more our body develops a chronic stress reaction so that we are rarely anything other than stressed.

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I could write a book on this issue!!! Like raffs says, the mental and physical should be looked at together. It is a vicious cycle.

About having RLS regardless of whether you're stressed or not: there might be times when you don't feel stressed per se, but there could be subconcious stressors that you are not aware of. You said that over the past 20 or so years you've had consecutive nights of no sleep? That right there is a HUGE stressor. You might not be stressed, but your body is. There is a poster up in my psychiatrist's office that says "the body remembers". That is so true (unfortunately)!! Raffs does a good job at summing this up in his last paragraph.

Rls is such a fluctuating condition it is hard to pin anything down. All I can say is that yesterday I was very stressed and worried about how I can continue paying for my 102 year old mother, who is in a super care home, and my rls was better than usual and I had a relatively good night. So no worsening due to extreme stress!

Stress has always been the most significant component for me - my RLS is much much worse when my life is very stressful. And then, as everyone says, stress = RLS = poor sleep = more stress! I do relaxation exercises every day to help manage the stress, with some success; no magic cures though!

A book that I have found to be very helpful is by Dr. Julia Ross, The Mood Cure. Chapter 12 is the one on SLEEP, and yes, it includes RLS. You can get it on Amazon. I decided to approach my RLS, from the other way around, by addressing my sleep problems first. RLS can aggravate sleep, AND sleep problems can aggravate RLS. They can work back and forth on each other.

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