Episode 10: Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndromeCan’t sit still in meetings? Feel restless in the evenings or on getting in to bed? Can’t get to sleep because you just can’t keep your legs still? These are all symptoms of restless legs syndrome. Whilst for many people restless legs symptoms are annoying, but not very severe, for some people, restless legs can be a constant presence preventing them from getting to sleep every night. Dr John Swieca discusses restless legs syndrome and its treatment, and Kevin Monk shares his experience living with severe restless legs symptoms.

Dr Moira Junge (Health Psychologist) and Dr David Cunnington (Sleep Physician) host the monthly podcast, Sleep Talk, talking all things sleep.

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Audio Timeline:

  • 00:00 – 01:06 Introduction
  • 01:06 –  03:01 What’s in the news about sleep?
  • 03:01 – 03:41 Theme introduction: Restless legs syndrome
  • 03:41 – 13:54 Guest interview – John Swieca: What is restless legs syndrome?
  • 13:54 – 26:02 Guest interview – Kevin Monk: Living with restless legs
  • 26:02 – 34:07 Discussion on restless legs syndrome – Moira and David
  • 34:07 – 34:36 More information on restless legs syndrome
  • 34:36 – 35:43 Clinical tip of the month
  • 35:43 – 36:59 Pick of the month: Moira – Obesity in adolescent impacted by sleep as a toddler
  • 36:59 – 40:37 Pick of the month: David – SAVE trial
  • 40:37 – 42:19 What’s coming up in the next month?

Next episode (October 10th 2016): Healthy Sleep

Links mentioned in the podcast:


Guest interviews:

John SwiecaDr John Swieca has been the medical director of the Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre since returning from a Sleep Disorders Fellowship at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles in 1994. In his clinical practice, he cares for patients with a range of sleep disorders. Dr Swieca’s clinical interests are broad, although he specialises in the management of complex multi-factorial sleep disorders. Dr Swieca is open to a range of treatment strategies for sleep apnoea, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, parasomnias and narcolepsy. He chairs the Sleep Physicians Group of the Australasian Sleep Association, the peak body representing sleep clinicians and researchers.

Kevin Monk has had restless legs over a number of years. Although Kevin has had a number of other health problems he rates restless legs as the thing that gives him the most trouble. Kevin generously gives an in-depth and personal account of how restless legs affects him and his experiences with treatment.

Regular hosts:

Dr Moira Junge

Dr Moira Junge is a health psychologist working in the sleep field, who has considerable experience working with people with sleeping difficulties in a multidisciplinary practice using a team-based approach. Moira has consulted at Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre since 2008, and is actively involved with the Australasian Sleep Association (ASA). She has presented numerous workshops for psychologists wanting to learn more about sleep disorders, and is involved with Monash University with teaching and supervision commitments, as well as clinical involvement with the Monash University Healthy Sleep Clinic. She is one of the clinic directors at Yarraville Health Group which was established in 1998. In addition to her expertise in sleep disorders, her other areas of interest and expertise include smoking cessation, psychological adjustment to chronic illness, and grief and loss issues.

Dr David CunningtonDr David Cunnington is a sleep physician and director of Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, and co-founder and contributor to SleepHub. David trained in sleep medicine both in Australia and in the United States, at Harvard Medical School, and is certified as both an International Sleep Medicine Specialist and International Behavioural Sleep Medicine Specialist. David’s clinical practice covers all areas of sleep medicine and he is actively involved in training health professionals in sleep. David is a regular media commentator on sleep, both in traditional media and social media, and blogs for the Huffington Post on sleep. David’s recent research has been in the area of non-drug, psychologically-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness in managing insomnia, restless legs syndrome and other sleep disorders.

Connect with David on Twitter or Facebook.

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Check our resources or take our Sleep Wellness Quiz for a free assessment of elements that may be keeping you from a good night’s sleep.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Mr Lindon Hearps.

    Hi. Thanks very much for your online info re RLS. One of my adult children who has a good deal of empathy for my condition, found you. Simone is almost through her PHD in infant neurological science therefore, she has a qualified grasp of doing online research. It is comforting to be able to listen to people who know a bit about RLS and/or who actually share our complaint. It can be very frustrating trying to relate our condition to others, unlike someone who might have a broken bone in their body which is signified by a plaster cast. Describing RLS as a form of “torture” comes somewhere close. It’s incessantcy (if there is such a word!!) also aggravates. I am 63 years young and have had RLS for about 18 years. It started as a slight sensation where I had to continually move my legs around in bed when I first went to bed. This sensation can best be compared to continually needing to move your legs around on a hot night, searching for that relieving cold patch in your bed sheets. Then it developed further where my legs felt as if a cramp was coming on, but never actually developed. Indeed, my leg, foot and toes all crawled in this fashion simultaneously. It has almost always been in one leg at a time, but more lately, on the odd occassion, it can be felt in both simultaneously. I have also developed tingling sensations down the back of my arms, nape of my neck and back of my head. Now, my arms are asking me to move them just like my jumpy legs, as well. I find some daily relief by taking Sifrol (Pramipexole). I started on the lowest doseage of .125mg about 10 years ago and have gradually found the need to increase my doseage to .750mg, knowing that the highest recommended doseage for RLS is 1.00mg. Whilst this drug helps releive the problem to some extent most days, it doesn’t eradicate it every day. I believe that my jumpy legs might be exacerbated by caffeine and fatigue. But as the severity of my RLS isn’t constant from day to day, it is very difficult to pin point specific contributors on any day/night. I find (quite strangely) that I can get some relief from RLS by crossing my legs and rubbing the outside of one foot against the outside of the other….strange! I have the approval from my GP to increase my Sifrol doseage up to 1.5mg (slow release) per day. I might consider taking half of a 1.5mg tablet in the morning say, about 10 o’clock and the balance at about 6pm in an effort to get 24 hour relief. Thanks again for your online contribution to this very enigmatic condition. I hope that you might find my experience to be of some help as well. Kind regards, Lindon.

  • Moira Junge

    Thanks very much for your very useful feedback Lindon. All the best to you for your continued management of your RLS, regards,
    Moira Junge

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