The National Institutes of Health will support a West Virginia University researcher studying the potential for managing restless leg syndrome using a novel non-pharmacological approach. The project has been awarded $448,524 in research funds.

“Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common but often underdiagnosed sleep disorder associated with profound impairment of sleep, mood and quality of life, and with significant health and economic costs,” said Kim Innes, Ph.D., of the WVU School of Public Health. While lifestyle changes may aid in RLS management, these remain largely unstudied; currently, RLS is most commonly treated with prescription drugs.

“Unfortunately, existing pharmacological treatments for RLS can have serious side effects, especially in older adults, who are disproportionately affected by this chronic condition,” Dr. Innes said.  

Based on promising preliminary findings, this study will test a structured, 12-week yoga program against a comprehensive education program for managing RLS symptoms. “We will measure the feasibility and potential effectiveness of each approach for alleviating RLS symptoms, reducing stress, and improving sleep, mood and quality of life in those with moderate to severe RLS,” she said.  

The project (NIH grant R15AT008606) began Sept 1.