Assessing your symptoms
Your GP or specialist will ask you about the pattern of your symptoms to help assess their severity.
For example, they may ask you:
- how often you have symptoms
- how unpleasant you find your symptoms
- whether your symptoms cause significant distress
- whether your sleep is disrupted, making you tired during the day
Keeping a sleep diary may help your doctor assess your symptoms.
You can use the diary to record your daily sleeping habits, such as the time you go to bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep, how often you wake during the night, and episodes of tiredness during the day.
Mild symptoms of restless legs syndrome can usually be treated by making lifestyle changes.
- establishing a regular sleeping pattern
- avoiding stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol or tobacco, in the evening
If your symptoms are more severe, you may need medication to bring them under control.
Read more about treating restless leg syndrome.
Your GP may refer you for blood tests to confirm or rule out possible underlying causes of restless legs syndrome.
It's particularly important to find out the levels of iron in your blood because low iron levels can sometimes cause secondary restless legs syndrome.
Low iron levels can be treated with iron tablets.
If you have restless legs syndrome and your sleep is being severely disrupted, sleep tests, such as a suggested immobilisation test, may be recommended.
The test involves lying on a bed for a set period of time without moving your legs while any involuntary leg movements are monitored.
Occasionally, polysomnography may be recommended. This is a test that measures your breathing rate, brain waves and heartbeat throughout the course of a night.
The results will confirm whether you have periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS).