Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Restless Legs Syndrome: a Proof of Concept Trial

Abstract

Psychological interventions for the management of restless legs syndrome (RLS) have yet to be thoroughly investigated. The aim of the present pilot study was to investigate whether mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can be used as a feasible and acceptable treatment option for the RLS patient population. Eight participants (four men and four women, with ages ranging from 44 to 67 years; M = 56.28, SD = 8.11) seeking treatment for RLS at a sleep clinic attended a 6-week MBSR group program. Five of these participants also participated in a focus group, 3 months post-intervention, to provide their experiences and opinions of the program. The findings revealed group and individual improvements in RLS symptom severity (d = 0.75), RLS-specific quality of life (d = 1.09), sleep quality (d = 1.47), and daytime sleepiness (d = 1.15). Results also revealed significant reductions in general psychopathology (d = 1.96), and overall significant improvement in mindfulness (d = 2.00) and mental health status post-intervention (d = 2.12) with stable improvements at a 3-month follow-up. Qualitative findings showed that participants found the program to be highly beneficial. The findings of the current study suggest that MBSR could be a promising treatment option in the management of RLS and associated conditions. This proof-of-concept study provides a strong rationale for further research to examine mindfulness-based interventions for RLS using larger sample sizes and randomized controlled trials.

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Correspondence to Keong Yap.

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Bablas, V., Yap, K., Cunnington, D. et al. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Restless Legs Syndrome: a Proof of Concept Trial. Mindfulness 7, 396–408 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0457-9

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Sleep disorder