Purpose: The purpose of this analysis was to investigate the prevalence and correlates of restless legs syndrome (RLS) symptoms in the 2005 National Sleep Foundation (NSF) Sleep in America 2005 Poll. The NSF poll is an annual telephone interview of a random, representative sample of US adults.
Methods: The NSF 2005 poll included 1,506 adults. Their mean age was 49 years, and 775 were women.
Results: Symptoms of RLS that included unpleasant feelings in the legs for at least a few nights a week, which were worse at night, were reported by 9.7% of individuals in this poll, including 8% of men and 11% of women. Those from the northeast United States were much less likely to be at risk than those from other regions of the country (p < 0.05). Those who were unemployed (p < 0.05) or smoked daily (p < 0.5) were more likely to be at risk for RLS, as were those with hypertension, arthritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, depression, anxiety, and diabetes (p < 0.05 for all). Adults who were at risk for RLS appeared to also be at increased risk for sleep apnea and insomnia (p < 0.05), and were more likely to stay up longer than they planned, to take longer than 30 min to fall asleep, to drive when drowsy, and to report daytime fatigue than those who were not at risk (p < 0.05 for all). They were also more likely to report being late to work, missing work, making errors at work, and missing social events because of sleepiness than other respondents in the poll (p < 0.05 for all).
Conclusions: RLS is significantly associated with medical and psychiatric conditions, other sleep disorders, unfavorable lifestyle behaviors, and adverse effects on daytime function. Chest physicians who practice sleep medicine need to be able to identify and manage RLS, which is prevalent and is associated with considerable morbidity.