MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rachel Marie E. Salas, MD, MEHP, FAAN
Associate Professor, Neurology and Nursing at Johns Hopkins Medicine
Director, Interprofessional Education and Interprofessional Collaborative Practice
Director, Neurology Clerkship
Director, PreDoc Program Meyer/Neuro Sleep
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Can you briefly describe what is meant by RLS and who suffers from it?
Response: Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a common neurological disorder characterized by an irritating, overwhelming urge to move (akathisia) the legs while at rest or sleep (conditions of diminished arousal), which almost immediately abates with mental or physical activity (conditions of maintained arousal).
One of the most clinically-profound and scientifically relevant consequences of this disease process is an increased arousal state producing significant wake during sleep times and a relative sustainable degree of daytime alertness despite the degree of diseased-imposed sleep loss. The focus of most previous RLS research has been on the (limb) akathisia with associated periodic movements and reduction of these with dopaminergic treatment. Little research has been done to understand the broader biological dimensions of RLS. Patients with RLS have altered sleep-wake homeostasis with increased arousal and wakefulness (hyperarousal) not only driving the signature clinical symptoms (“the urge to move” and sleep loss) but also supporting arousal over sleep drive at night and in the day. We hypothesize that there is a basic glutamate-hyperarousal process producing both disrupted sleep (increased wake time) and cortical excitability (as demonstrated by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)). Continue reading