Criteria for Restless Legs Syndrome

If you suffer from restless legs, it is not visible from the outside. It’s difficult to explain, because you’re not otherwise ill. It usually doesn’t hurt, but it can really disrupt your night’s sleep because you can’t lie still. You feel a strong urge to keep moving your legs and it sometimes feels burning, itchy and you sometimes want to kick with your legs. Restless legs can lead to lack of sleep and fatigue

If you have restless legs

It can be difficult to explain if you suffer from restless legs, also called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). You don’t look sick and yet you have complaints that can have a significant impact on your life. There is an urge to move and this can keep you quite awake at night. If you go to the doctor with insomnia complaints, also tell him about the unpleasant feeling in your legs so that he can get a good idea of what exactly is going on.


As a result of persistent restless legs, you may experience insomnia. For example, you may have problems falling asleep, or wake up during the night and not be able to sleep any longer and lie awake for hours. As a result, you may become sleep deprived and overtired, making it difficult to function during the day.


The complaints of restless legs are usually described as: pulling, as if bugs are crawling in your legs, tingling, itching, pain or burning sensation. People sometimes describe it as follows: restless legs, growing pains, as if there is electricity in the legs, worms in the legs, urge to move or having to kick the legs in bed.

Criteria for restless legs

The doctor will form a picture based on your story about the symptoms and will make a diagnosis. A doctor will look at a number of important criteria to diagnose Restless Legs Syndrome. Some important criteria are:

Urge to move

There is an urge to move your legs which is usually accompanied by an unpleasant sensation and sensations in the legs. The feeling can be described as follows:

  • It is usually in the calves, but sometimes also in the thighs, feet or arms
  • It is usually on both sides
  • The feeling runs deep


Urge to move after rest

There is an urge to move your legs and an unpleasant feeling that begins during a period of rest such as lying down or sitting still, such as a car ride. It is possible that any period of rest can lead to a tickling feeling in the legs.

Exercise provides relief

By moving vigorously or kicking your legs, the unpleasant feeling in your legs can be completely or partially relieved. Stretching and walking or other activities can also provide relief. The moment you start moving, this feeling disappears. As soon as you stop moving your legs, the unpleasant feeling returns.

Feeling is more intense in the evening and at night

The urge to move or the unpleasant feeling in the legs is more intense during the evening and night than during the day or only occurs in the evening and at night. The symptoms of restless legs rarely occur in the morning. The feeling can make it difficult for you to fall asleep or wake up often during the night.


By ensuring healthy sleep hygiene, you can reduce complaints. For example, you must ensure a fixed sleep rhythm, do not sleep too much, have a fresh bedroom and do not drink or eat too much before going to bed. Try to get some rest and relax before going to sleep. Ensure a healthy lifestyle in which you eat healthily, do not smoke and exercise sufficiently. If this does not help, in some cases we will check whether you need medication to keep the complaints under control.

Other information

More than half of the people with Rest Legs Syndrome have a family history of it. In some cases, you do not wake up from the RLS symptoms, but your partner does because he is a light sleeper. Your partner may be able to give you some more information about the symptoms. If you explain the problem properly to the doctor, something can often be done about it.

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