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Restless leg syndrome is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult for patients to fall asleep. It is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs. Restless leg syndrome usually strikes at night, when the patient goes to bed, but it can also happen when a person has been sitting for long periods of time (such as in a car or an airplane). Getting up and moving the leg relieves the discomfort, at least for a while if not for the entire night.
Restless leg syndrome can affect anyone, but most often the patient is an older adult (women more than men). It has no known cause, although experts think it may be an imbalance in dopamine, a brain chemical that sends messages to the legs. They have also noticed that restless leg syndrome runs in families. Pregnant women are susceptible to restless leg syndrome, but the condition usually goes away after childbirth.
Because restless leg syndrome disrupts sleep, it has consequences for daytime as patients tend to be drowsy.