5 Ways Restless Legs Syndrome Impacts Couples

February makes most of us think of valentines and hearts and the ones we love.  Have you ever wondered how RLS impacts love relationships? In late 2013 the Willis-Ekbom (formerly RLS) Foundation conducted a survey of over 1500 of it’s members and their spouses/partners.  The survey is called the “Patient Odyssey” survey. Among the results were 5 interesting findings about the impact of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) on sleep and relationships.

Who were the couples?

  • 90% of spouses/partners who responded have been in a committed relationship for more than 15 years.
  • 80% of spouses/partners learned about their loved one’s RLS after getting married/entering into a civil union.
  • Almost half- 46%- believe they should be involved in their partner’s decision regarding medication and half (50%) have encouraged their partner to ask their doctor for a different medication.
  • 50% of spouses reported being “extremely” aware of their spouse’s RLS
  • 20% of partners claim RLS has negatively impacted their relationships, however, 99% never considered ending the relationship because of RLS.

5 Ways RLS Impacts Sleep and Relationships

  1. A restful night’s sleep was the area most affected by RLS,  as reported by spouses and partners (85% and 38%, respectively). Most attention is typically focused on the RLS sufferer.  Clearly spouses are also missing out on a restful night’s sleep.
  2. 65% of patients and 24% of spouses/partners report being impacted by RLS three or more times a week. More than one-third of the week many couples are not getting the sleep they need.
  3. About 1/3 of patients and 1/3 of spouses/partners admit sleeping in a separate bed due to RLS. Sleeping in separate beds is a good fix for the partner, but doesn’t help the patient get sleep.
  4. Because of sleep loss, 81% of patients and 33% of their partners reported their productivity  was at least somewhat impacted the following day. Patients experiencing loss of productivity the day after an RLS attack is expected.  Partners of RLS sufferers losing productivity isn’t discussed as much.
  5. 9% of patients and about 12% of partners expressed RLS impacting their intimacy. That’s a shame.

The Bottom Line: RLS affects partners too. When both partners aren’t getting enough restful sleep, a little compassion among partners may go a long way. If medication is not working or not an option, you may want to talk to your doctor about Relaxis. You may both be thankful you did.