Study objectives: To clarify the prevalence of restless legs syndrome (RLS) in pregnant women living in Japan and to analyze the relationship between sleep problems and RLS, in order to discuss ways for pregnant women to obtain comfortable sleep and to improve the health of both the mother and child.
Design: A cross-sectional questionnaire survey.
Setting: 500 clinical institutions with maternity services were randomly sampled from a list of organizations identified in a survey by the Japan Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Of these 500 institutions, 260 participated in the survey.
Participants: 16,528 pregnant women living in Japan.
Measurements and results: In this survey of pregnant women, the prevalence of RLS was found to be 19.9%. An analysis was conducted on the relationship between RLS and other factors such as subjective evaluation of sleep, difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, early morning awaking, and excessive daytime sleepiness. The result of this analysis suggested that women with these sleep-related problems were more likely to have RLS than those without. In addition, RLS was more prevalent in the later stages of pregnancy.
Conclusion: In the pregnant women in our survey, the prevalence of RLS was found to be 19.9%, which is higher than the prevalence of RLS that has been found in the general public in a previous study. This suggests that RLS-related sleep problems may be an important public health issue among pregnant women in Japan. This finding may have implications for attempts to improve sleep hygiene in this group.