Adults with fibromyalgia had a much higher prevalence and risk of restless legs syndrome than healthy controls, according to new research. The study suggests that treating RLS may improve sleep and quality of life in people with fibromyalgia.

Results of the study, published in the October 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that the prevalence of restless legs syndrome was about 10 times higher in the fibromyalgia group (33%) than among controls (3.1%). After statistical adjustments for potential confounders such as age, gender, and ethnicity, participants with fibromyalgia were 11 times more likely than controls to have RLS (odds ratio = 11.2). As expected, considerable sleep disruption was reported by participants with fibromyalgia using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Insomnia Severity Index, and Epworth Sleepiness Scale. In the fibromyalgia group, these sleep problems were more severe among people who also had RLS.

"Sleep disruption is common in fibromyalgia, and often difficult to treat," said contributing author Dr Nathaniel F. Watson, associate professor of neurology at the University of Washington in Seattle. "It is apparent from our study that a substantial portion of sleep disruption in fibromyalgia is due to restless legs syndrome."