A study recently presented at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle finds that pregabalin (marketed as Lyrica®), a drug widely used to treat seizures and anxiety, appears to be an effective treatment for restless legs syndrome (RLS) and improves the sleep of people with the disorder.

The 12-week study involved 58 people with RLS. Thirty study participants received the drug pregabalin and the rest received placebo. Sleep studies were performed at the beginning and end of the research.

Nearly two-thirds of the people who took pregabalin had no RLS symptoms while taking the drug. Those participants who still had symptoms of RLS showed an improvement of 66% while taking the drug, compared to the placebo group whose symptoms worsened by 29%.

The participants who were administered pregabalin spent more time in slow wave sleep and they spent less time in the lighter sleep stages compared to those taking placebo.

“Since RLS symptoms get worse at night, it’s difficult for people with RLS to get adequate sleep,” said study author Diego Garcia-Borreguero, MD, director of the Sleep Research Institute in Madrid, Spain, in a press briefing. ”However, our findings show pregabalin helped people get more deep sleep. The drug was well tolerated and is a promising alternative to current treatments because of its superior effects on quality of sleep.”

Pregabalin is currently approved for epilepsy, nerve pain, generalized anxiety, and fibromyalgia.

A video of the Garcia-Borreguero’s press briefing is available online here.