Listen up, ladies, because there is something that we all need to discuss: Our sleep habits. Yes, I know that may seem trivial compared to the multitudes of issues affecting women right now. Everything from the pay gap to the rights to our bodies, but nonetheless, your sleep habits play a major role in your daily well-being, and it’s something that is not discussed openly among friends — but it should be.
Did you know that nearly 7 million Americans suffer from sleepless nights due to restless legs syndrome (RLS). While you may it may not directly affect you, there is a chance it could be playing a role in the life of someone closest to you.
What is RLS you ask? Well, RLS is a neurological disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs during periods of inactivity or while at rest. Many people across the nation who are living with RLS delay or avoid talking with their doctor about their symptoms and can even choose to go years without seeking medical help.
This is why it’s so important for women to start discussing ways to live healthier more powerful lives. By not discussing the cause of their sleeping problems, you can be misdiagnosed and often prescribed medicine that does little for their condition or quality-of-life.
Psychologist Dr. Robin Goldstein sat down with Quirky Daily to discuss the ways RLS could be affecting your life, and how you can be a part of the solution.
Quirky Daily: If you could tell me a little bit more about what RLS is?
Psychologist Dr. Robin Goldstein: RLS is a neurological disorder, and it causes an irresistible feeling, mostly in the legs, a pulling, twitching, tugging, discomfort, and the reason it’s important and it matters, is because it can prevent you from getting a healthy night’s sleep.
Quirky Daily: How does RLS prevent a person from getting a good night’s sleep?
Psychologist Dr. Robin Goldstein: Well, as you can imagine, having a very uncomfortable feeling in your legs can keep you from falling asleep. It can also wake people in the middle of the night with a very odd and uncomfortable sensation.
Quirky Daily: What’s being done about this?
Psychologist Dr. Robin Goldstein: Well, there are treatments available. There are medicines, and we’re launching a hashtag for social media #StopMakingExcuses, to encourage people to learn more about RLS, about insomnia, and to start a conversation with their families and their physicians if they’re not getting adequate sleep.
Quirky Daily: What are your hopes for this social media campaign? How are you anticipating people will respond to it?
Psychologist Dr. Robin Goldstein: Well, I’m really hoping people will raise awareness about insomnia. I find that people often dismiss it and don’t take it seriously, but it’s as vital as good nutrition and exercise. It’s an essential part of having a good life. I know as a psychologist that inadequate sleep first of all can be a symptom of an underlying disorder, but it can also make irritable, less productive at work, harder to get along with, for people you are around, and they’re finding more and more that inadequate sleep contributes to a range of medical problems as well.
Quirky Daily: What other ways is awareness being raised for RLS?
Psychologist Dr. Robin Goldstein: We have some websites. NoRestForRLS.com. RLS.org is a second one. That’s a tongue twister. I also refer people to SleepFoundation.org for more information about insomnia and sleep disorders in general.
Quirky Daily: What steps do you think someone suffering from RLS can take to get a better night’s sleep?
Psychologist Dr. Robin Goldstein: Well, if it is a neurological disorder it is probably going to require a medical treatment. It’s not something as… I introduced it as something uncontrollable, so it’s not something you can bring under control yourself. Having an extra shot of vodka isn’t going to bring it under control. Even the insomnia medications doing really control RLS, so there are specific medications for RLS. So as an individual you have to talk to your doctor about what treatement is right for you. We don’t really have any behavioral treatments that help RLS.
Quirky Daily: Anything else you want people to know about RLS?
Psychologist Dr. Robin Goldstein: Just a reminder to stop making excuses, prioritize your sleep, and get a healthy night’s sleep – it really helps your life.
Feature Image: Chris Riebschlager