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The Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome and Stress

The Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome and Stress

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, which is often accompanied by discomfort or pain. Stress, on the other hand, is a natural response to challenging or demanding situations. It can be helpful in small amounts, but chronic stress can have a negative impact on mental and physical health.

This blog will explore the link between restless legs syndrome and stress and provide tips on how to manage both conditions.

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects the legs and causes an irresistible urge to move them. It typically occurs at night, which can disrupt sleep and lead to daytime fatigue. Symptoms of RLS include tingling, crawling, or aching sensations in the legs, which are relieved by movement. The exact cause of RLS is unknown, but it has been linked to genetics, iron deficiency, and dopamine dysfunction.

RLS is a chronic condition that can significantly impact quality of life. According to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 10% of the population in the United States may have RLS. It is more common in women than men and can occur at any age, although it is more common in older adults.

What is Stress?

Stress is a natural response to challenging or demanding situations. It can be helpful in small amounts, as it motivates us to take action and overcome obstacles. However, chronic stress can have a negative impact on mental and physical health. It can lead to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and other health problems.

In today’s fast-paced world, stress has almost become an aspect of daily life. Whether it’s the pressure to meet work deadlines, financial strain, or relationship issues, stressors can significantly impact both mental and physical health.

Work-related stress can lead to burnout, decreased job satisfaction, and increased absenteeism. Financial stress can cause anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. Relationship stress can cause tension, conflict, and emotional turmoil. Chronic stress can also have physical consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and weakened immune function.

Restless Legs Syndrome and Stress

Restless legs syndrome and stress are closely linked. Studies have shown that stress can exacerbate RLS symptoms and make them more frequent and severe. Chronic stress can also disrupt sleep, which can worsen RLS symptoms. Additionally, the lack of sleep caused by RLS can lead to increased stress levels, creating a cycle.

Stress can impact the central nervous system, leading to changes in the brain that may worsen RLS symptoms. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that stress can increase the activity of the nervous system, leading to heightened arousal and sleep disturbance. This can worsen RLS symptoms and make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep.

In addition to the impact on sleep, stress can also worsen RLS symptoms by increasing muscle tension and aggravating pain. The tension and discomfort caused by stress can exacerbate the urge to move the legs, making it more difficult to find relief.

How to Manage Restless Legs Syndrome and Stress

Managing RLS and stress can be challenging, but there are several strategies that can help. Here are some tips:

  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, to reduce stress levels. These techniques can help calm the nervous system and promote relaxation, which can reduce the impact of stress on RLS symptoms.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule to improve the quality and quantity of sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle, which can improve sleep and reduce RLS symptoms.
  • Exercise regularly, as physical activity can help reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality. However, it is important to avoid exercising close to bedtime, as this can exacerbate RLS symptoms.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, as these substances can worsen RLS symptoms and disrupt sleep.
  • Talk to a healthcare professional about medication options for RLS and stress management. There are several medications available that can help reduce RLS symptoms, as well as medications and therapies that can help manage stress.

Final Thoughts

Restless legs syndrome and stress are closely linked, creating a cycle that can significantly impact quality of life. However, there are several strategies that can help manage both conditions, including relaxation techniques, regular exercise, and ketamine infusion therapy. Contact Advanced Wellness & Pain today to schedule an appointment and start your journey toward better health.

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James T. Leathem, DO

Dr. James Leathem is a board-certified anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He was born and raised in Connecticut and graduated from Florida Southern College with a bachelor of science in marketing management with minors in sociology and communications. He obtained his medical degree from Midwestern University’s Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in anesthesiology at Michigan State University and its affiliated McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital.

In 2015, after residency, Dr. Leathem returned to Arizona to practice anesthesiology. He joined Red Mountain Anesthesiologists and worked primarily at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, performing 100% of his own cases. He was made partner in the group after demonstrating 3 years of anesthesia excellence and administering over 4,000 anesthetics. In 2019, a corporate change occurred and an opportunity presented itself in which he was able to transition out of the hospital to surgery center and clinic-based anesthesia.

Dr. Leathem realizes that the only constant in life is change. In 2020, amidst the global pandemic, his career took a different direction. This change led him to collaborate with Dr. Wong and Dr. Sharma and they founded Advanced Wellness and Pain (AWAP). Their mission is to provide a variety of state-of-the-art procedural services that improve patients’ quality of life and overall physical and mental well-being.

Dr. Leathem believes that we are all a work in progress and that each day, one should strive to make positive changes in their life. He is here to help empower each patient on their journey to be their best self and live their best life. When you are being cared for by Dr. Leathem, you can be assured that he will give you his undivided attention and time.

Gregory Wong, MD

Dr. Wong is a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of both the American Society of Anesthesiology and the Arizona Society of Anesthesiology. He did his undergraduate training at the University of California at Davis, Davis, California; doctorate training at The University of Health Sciences of the Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, IL; and his post-doctoral training at the Integrated Program at the University of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ. He has spent his whole 24-year career practicing in Arizona.

Dr. Wong grew up in the Bay Area of California. He is married and is raising three daughters. At the early age of 12 years old, he knew he wanted to become a physician. His love of the human spirit, intrigue of human physiology, and compassion for human suffering led him to the path of anesthesiology and pain medicine.

Today, Dr. Wong realizes patients need a holistic biophysical-mental-spiritual care. This philosophy has brought him to the studies of regenerative medicine and infusion therapies. He has firsthandily witnessed the overwhelming success of these therapies for treating chronic pain and depression and the return of patients of “life-functionality.”

“There has never been a time more important than now to advocate for our patients in these difficult times. We owe it to our patients to offer these state-of-the-art treatment modalities that weren’t available before.”

Deepak Sharma, MD, MBA

Dr. Sharma is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He completed three degrees at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA: a Bachelor in Finance, a Master in Business Administration, and a Doctor of Medicine. He went on to complete residency at the Mount Sinai Morningside-West Hospital System in New York, NY and post-graduate fellowship at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA.

Dr. Sharma is committed to treating his patients as a whole with a comprehensive biophysical-mental-spiritual approach. He is a lifelong learner and is constantly researching cutting-edge therapies backed by scientific studies. He has taken a particular interest in regenerative and infusion therapies after witnessing firsthand their significant benefits on those suffering from chronic pain and depression. In his free time, Dr. Sharma enjoys spending time with his family and friends, hiking, traveling, reading, and meditation.

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