Sleepless nights are stressful, exhausting and frustrating. Sleep disorders, including snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep deprivation, and restless legs syndrome are common. Research has shown that restless leg syndrome (RLS), restless sleep or insomnia among infants, children, teenagers, pregnant women and adults is often related to low iron stores.
RLS is characterized by uncomfortable sensations deep in the legs that compel an individual to move. The symptoms are worst at night and sleep disturbance or even insomnia is common.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimate that RLS afflicts 10% of the US population. Initially, research focused on the elderly. For example, a 1994 study conducted in an Ireland hospital confirmed that iron deficiency, with or without anemia, contributed to RLS in elderly patients. Iron supplements were found to significantly reduce their symptoms. 
Now, it is estimated that 1.9% of children and 2% of adolescents are afflicted with RLS.  Typically, early-onset RLS (i.e., before age 45) is linked to genetics, whereas late-onset RLS has a strong relationship with an individual’s iron status. But a 2002 study found that abnormal iron stores (without signs of anemia) or metabolism may result in RLS causing insomnia in teenagers. 
Almost one-third of pregnant women suffer from RLS. Researchers recently reported that they surveyed 300 pregnant women in their third trimester and found signs of anemia typical of iron deficiency in RLS-positive respondents, despite higher oral iron supplementation in this group. Unfortunately, sleep disturbance symptoms increase throughout pregnancy and postpartum delivery.  
Iron deficiency, with or without anemia, can impact sleep in other ways. A study of 6–18 month-old infants from Nepal and Zanzibar found reduced sleep duration and increased night-waking among infants with iron deficiency anemia . In a 2007 study conducted on 33 autistic children, researchers found that 77 percent had restless sleep at baseline and researchers reported that the children’s restless sleep improved significantly with iron therapy .
The underlying metabolic interactions are not clearly understood. Dopamine and serotonin play a role in wake and sleep activities. Iron is also vital to the brain’s dopamine system. But researchers have not been able to ascertain exactly how dopamine, serotonin, and iron interact. 
While there is no known cure for RLS, a physician may recommend sleeping pills, opiates, dopamine-related medications, Alpha2 Delta drugs, or iron (i.e., iron supplements or infusions) to relieve the symptoms. If you, or someone you know, suffer from RLS, consult with a physician to explore treatment options.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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