Reasons to Track Your Sleep With RLS

You might think your restless legs syndrome (RLS) just prevents you from falling asleep, so there is no real reason to track your sleep other than hours and hours of restlessness trying to fall asleep.

However, RLS is a sleep disorder, and there are a few very good reasons to track your sleep quality and symptoms.

How RLS can impact our sleep

RLS is classified as a sleep disorder because it makes it hard to fall asleep and can impact sleep quality. Also, around 80 percent of people with RLS have periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), which can also cause issues with sleep quality.1

Obstructive sleep apnea can also occur with RLS. Sleep disorders that cause insomnia or impair quality sleep can cause daytime sleepiness.2

Problems from poor sleep

I have problems falling asleep, yes, but also a huge problem for me is staying asleep. And when I wake up often during the night, I have a lot of problems falling back to sleep. It leads to a lot of daytime sleepiness.

Because RLS impacts our sleep some of the symptoms we can get from this are:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Problems concentrating
  • Depression
  • Risk of high blood pressure
  • Lowered immune system
  • Weight gain

Reasons to track our sleep

The main reason I like to track the quality and duration of my sleep is to try and figure out if any treatment I am trying for my RLS is having any impact at all over time.

I can track the severity of my RLS symptoms over the month, how many days I need to take my RLS medication, and what dosage. That way, I can see if any of the lifestyle changes I am making are making a dent at all. I can also see if there is any change in the quality of my sleep and any change in my daytime sleepiness, and the need to take a nap.

Things we can track

  • Duration of sleep
  • Quality of sleep
  • How long it took us to fall asleep (approximately)
  • The severity of our RLS
  • If we woke up during the night, how many times. And if we actually had to get out of bed because we could not get back to sleep.
  • How we treated our RLS, with medication or anything
  • Any factors that may have contributed to our RLS such as caffeine or alcohol
  • What alternative treatments or lifestyle changes we have started or are doing and if there is any change we have noted
  • Level of daytime sleepiness and if we needed to take any naps, duration of naps

How to track your sleep

There are plenty of free apps for your smartphone that can be used to track your sleep. Some are nice and basic, and if you get one that allows you to add in notes, that enables you to add in your RLS symptoms.

Either way, when I track my symptoms, I can see how many severe days I have over time and how many days I am using the max amount of medication. This enables me to see if anything I am doing is helping at all.

I tend just to make a basic Excel spreadsheet and do it that way. It depends on what you find easiest to use, really. Some people prefer a paper journal. While others prefer tracking through an app. I’m always on the computer, so an Excel spreadsheet works best for me.

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