Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) In Kids

This blog post explores Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) in children, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options. Parents of children with RLS can learn how to identify the condition and manage its symptoms, which can disrupt sleep and cause behavioral issues. The article provides valuable information on how to help children with RLS achieve better sleep and improve their quality of life.

**Did you know that according to the restless legs syndrome foundation, 1.5 million children and adolescents suffer from RLS? **

Do you know that 35% of RLS patients report that their symptoms started before 20?

Silent thieves target children every night, increasing the risk of mental health issues like depression and ADHD in irritable and unfocused kids. Restless Legs Syndrome makes it hard to fall and stay asleep. Let's delve into Restless Legs Syndrome in children.

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom disease, is a sleep disorder that affects kids and teens. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that it causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, which can occur after extended periods of immobility, like during long car rides or watching a movie.

Risk Factors

While it's not clear if any of these things cause RLS, certain factors may increase the risk of developing it:

  • Gender: Women are twice as likely to have RLS as men.

  • Age: RLS can develop at any age, but it's more common and severe in middle age.

  • Genetics: RLS runs in families, so you're more likely to get it if a family member has it.

  • **Pregnancy: **Some women experience RLS during pregnancy, especially in the last three months, but it usually goes away after delivery.

  • Drugs: Some medications, such as antinausea, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and antihistamines, can cause or worsen RLS symptoms.

  • Chronic diseases: Conditions like peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, and kidney failure can trigger RLS. Treating the underlying cause may alleviate symptoms.

RLS can impact overall health and quality of life. If left untreated and resulting in long-term sleep deprivation, it may increase the risk of depression, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.


  • Restless Leg Syndrome's exact cause is unknown but could be due to low iron levels, diabetes, kidney disease, or neurological disorders.

  • Genetics plays a significant role in RLS development, with a common family history, especially if it's severe and early-onset.

  • Recent studies show that RLS can be caused by mutations in five genes, including MEIS1, BTBD9, MAP2K5/LBXCOR1, and PTPRD, highly expressed in the spinal cord.

  • These genes affect how the spinal cord and nervous system process external information and control muscle movement.

  • This could also explain the connection between RLS and periodic leg movements during sleep (PLMS).


The following are the most common signs and symptoms of restless legs syndrome in children-

  • irresistible urge to move legs (or arms) while sitting or lying down, including pacing and rubbing their legs.

  • Lack of sleep causes daytime sleepiness.

  • Leg tingling, stinging, and crawling sensations.

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep.

  • Uncomfortable leg sensations.

  • EDS or chronic fatigue.

  • School performance problems.

Children may have trouble describing their symptoms, so diagnosing growing pains can be difficult. Family history of RLS may aid in diagnosing growing pains. The symptoms of RLS and ADHD may be related in children.


A diagnosis of restless legs syndrome can be made if your child can answer yes to the following four questions-

  • Do the uncomfortable sensations in the legs worsen at night, regardless of the time or day?

  • Do leg aches start or worsen when the child is lying down or immobile?

  • Does movement such as walking or stretching relieve some of the discomfort?

  • Does the child feel compelled to move their legs due to numbness or discomfort?


The following are possible treatments-

  • Techniques for relaxation

  • Medication

  • Including nutritious, well-balanced food in one's daily routine

  • Bedtime routines change

  • Avoiding the stimulant effects of caffeine

Remedies At Home For Restless Legs Syndrome

While home cures won't eliminate symptoms, they can help alleviate them. Finding the optimal therapies may require a time of trial and error.

Below are some alternatives for your consideration-

  • Use a heating pad or ice pack if you're experiencing symptoms.

  • Take a hot bath before bedtime.

  • Stretching or massaging your or your child’s calf muscles at night can be relaxing.

  • Learn to calm and center yourself through yoga or meditation.

  • Every day of the week, go to bed simultaneously.

  • Do some form of exercise every day.

  • Cut back on or avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cigarette smoke.

  • An iron or other nutrient shortage can be remedied by consulting a doctor or nutritionist.

Consult your doctor before taking any new dietary supplements. If taken in large doses, certain supplements could be harmful if taken in excess.

These suggestions may help you even if your RLS is already under control with prescription medicine.

Tips For Parents

What You Should Be Aware Of

  • RLS has a genetic link.

  • People with RLS are more likely to suffer from Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD), which causes the legs to jerk or twitch uncontrollably every 10 to 60 seconds.

  • A medical condition like iron deficiency anemia or other is not known to cause RLS (restless leg syndrome).

  • Antidepressants, anti-nausea, anti-seizure, and some allergy and cold medications can all cause it. These substances have been linked to an increased risk of developing RLS symptoms.

  • Restless legs syndrome can be treated with dietary and medication changes.

Here are some suggestions to help your child avoid being overtired and get a good night's sleep-

  • Stay consistent with a bedtime routine for your child and ensure they are getting enough sleep.

  • A calm, relaxed, and dark environment for your child's bedroom is necessary.

  • Ask a doctor to check your child's iron levels (ferritin).

  • Maintaining a healthy balance between exercise and rest can help relieve symptoms in children with ADHD.

  • If your child is having trouble falling asleep, try giving them a relaxing bath or massage before bedtime or other home remedies (mentioned above).

Get expert medical advice from our team of experienced pediatricians within 15 minutes or emergency-consultation for your child's health and development. Sign up for Babynama's care plans today to get unlimited access to chat with a pediatrician directly on WhatsApp to get answers to your child's health-related queries and the best possible care. Babynama's aim is to provide fast, reliable, and quality healthcare support to parents. Be a part of Babynama today!