Restless Legs Syndrome and Restlessness: A Bad Combination

Restless Legs Syndrome and Restlessness: A Bad Combination

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is common in Parkinson’s disease (PD). So, too, is restlessness. However, the two symptoms are not the same. When you experience both, and add discomfort to the equation, you have a very uncomfortable person dealing with PD.

I can relate so well.

I have walked the floor many nights trying to get my legs to stop twitching. Once my restless legs begin their midnight dance, there is little else that will calm them down. So, I walk around my living room, sometimes singing softly or praying.

Restlessness and RLS can keep you awake and fidgety, but they don’t affect you in the same way. Restlessness creates anxiousness, and vice versa. It can affect anyone, not just those who are already struggling with Parkinson’s.

Another lesser-known symptom accompanies Parkinson’s: being uncomfortable. I am not referring to a feeling of awkwardness but rather a state of being.

It’s when you’re unable to find a comfortable chair to sit in and then can’t get into a restful position in that chair. The same goes for sleeping. Your bed may be the one Goldilocks would have chosen, but you can’t seem to find that sweet spot for yourself.

My husband has told me that sometimes I look like a puppy dog circling its bed in an attempt to find the most comfortable position. Sometimes I feel like a puppy in that respect! Just when I have lain down and reached the elusive “comfortable” spot of sleep, I think I need to visit the bathroom again. Upon returning, the comfort game begins again, which I usually lose.

What worsens my discomfort? Too much sugar or caffeine close to bedtime is an example. This happened the other night. 

I had a large cup of Diet Coke for lunch that I sipped on the rest of the day. I hadn’t had Diet Coke in what seemed like forever, and that one drink reduced my usual nine hours of sleep to a few more than two. Sugar has been known to keep me awake all night. Having Parkinson’s disease, you try everything you can to ensure the best possible night’s sleep — or you pay for it the next day.

I have noticed that when I am on my computer just before going to bed, it takes me longer to fall asleep. My mind keeps buzzing. So, because I must charge my deep brain stimulator battery each night, I have started reading during that time. Reading tends to quiet my mind and gets me ready to fall asleep sooner and more easily. Going to bed at a regular bedtime also seems to help.

Several things can hinder our attempts to sleep well. We can change some of these things. If you’re having a tough time getting a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor about it and try some of my tips. It’s worth a shot.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

10 comments

    • Hi Lou – thanks for the comment. Actually, i take the same exact thing and ten minutes after climbing into bed i know if i’ve Missed by nighttime dosage! Thanks for aiding my forgetfulness and bringing that up! Have a great week!

  1. Alan Tobey says:

    I agree on the benefit of Mirapex to reduce or eliminate RLS.

    “I have noticed that when I am on my computer just before going to bed, it takes me longer to fall asleep. My mind keeps buzzing.” It may not be your conscious mind but another part of your less-conscious awareness. The bright blue-spectrum light from a typical monitor acts as a sort of anti-melatonin that can keep you from falling asleep. Advice that works: Turn the monitor brightness way down, and if possible change the color temperature to a warmer value. If you have an Apple iMac or laptop or iPad, the “night shift” function can do that for you automatically.

    Even better: read a paper book under a not-bright warm lamp (not fluorescent).

    Happy dreams!

  2. joe says:

    My simple remedy to restless leg- my left leg is to take less Medopar (levodopa+Benserazide 250 mg)and stop taking Comtan -Entacapone 200mg altogether.
    I was taking 3/4 OF A TABLET OF madopar ,then my left leg became restlesss.5 times a day. Now im taking half a tablet 7 times a day and my left legstopped being restless.

  3. Gary Golding says:

    My restless legs started before my PD diagnosis. I gave up coffee and other caffeine drinks altogether (October 4 2006) and the restless legs stopped. My wife was very pleased. The problem returned in a different form in 2012. As I drift off to sleep my arm tremor stops but just as I fall asleep one of my legs shakes and wakes me up again. Fortunately it is not every night. The smallest stimulus eg air blowing on my feet can set it off. The worst case occurred the night after I had a wart burned off my heal. Any aches or pains seems to make it worse. I purchased a foot massage machine which helps. Pramipexole helps but so does paracetamol(acetominophen). Mindefulness meditation also helps. Lately I have started counting to see how long between shakes. That seems to take the intensity off the shaking.

  4. Liz says:

    My RLS is much better since I went on Rytary, an extended release levodopa. I used gabapentin for while, also, at bedtime. It’s frustrating when I can’t get comfortable to sleep and I can’t sit comfortably to read either.

  5. Paula says:

    Restless legs–booooo! Can’t sit or lie down comfortably late in day & evening, but also can’t stand up for very long due to leg & knee pain. So I’m constantly up & down (slowly & painfully) like a Jack-in-the-Box. My only relief is that I usually get a good night’s sleep but only if I take 1 Sinemet plus 1 Requip. Also, usually no RLS early in the day, but still painful legs & joints.

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