Sleep Apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome

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Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, is a disorder characterized by frequent movement in the legs, often triggered by crawling feelings and other sensations. Although the disorder annoys sufferers in the daytime, its most significant impact is on sleep quality. Sleep apnea can coincide with RLS or interact with its treatment.

Intersection of Sleep Apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome

Nighttime leg movements may result from sleep apnea, but RLS and sleep apnea may also share a common cause in some patients. The breathing pauses associated with sleep apnea are known to cause restlessness in patients. When central sleep apnea is involved, the two disorders may be the result of neurological damage in multiple areas of the brain.

Sleep Apnea and RLS Treatment

Restless leg syndrome is often treated with medications such as benzodiazepine sedatives, opioids and opioid analogs. All of these medication types are known to depress breathing, which can worsen sleep apnea.

In some cases, treatment for sleep apnea may reduce or eliminate symptoms of RLS. Eliminating sleep-disordered breathing can also simplify drug treatment for RLS if the disorder remains. To learn more about the connection between these disorders, patients can schedule a consultation with our sleep apnea dentist in Thousand Oaks.


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