People suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome report that if they feel more relaxed during the daytime, the sensations and movements of their legs are less intense and they sleep more deeply. Researchers have found that there is an increase in brain activity and heart rate right before the onset of leg movements. During sleep, the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic, are constantly changing their activity levels to maintain homeostasis. If the activities of the sympathetic nervous system are too strong, the muscles cannot fully relax during the rapid-eye-movement sleep when our brains are as active as when we are awake. Patients may act out their dreams or their legs may move involuntarily with no relation to their dreams. This condition is associated with enhanced sympathetic activity. Acupuncture can help reduce sympathetic nerve activity.
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