According to the results of a recent study, symptoms associated with RLS change depending on the season, becoming their most severe during the summer.
The study, published in the December 2013 issue of Sleep Medicine
, used Internet search query data to evaluate whether RLS symptoms fluctuate with the season, as is reported by many patients with the condition. The researchers obtained data on the monthly search volume for the term restless legs
from January 2004 to December 2012 using Google Trends. Seasonal effects were analyzed for data from the United States, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom (UK), and Canada.
The season significantly affected search queries for RLS in the United States, Australia, Germany, and the UK. The results indicated a trend between season and searches in Canada, but it was not significant. Searches for the term restless legs
peaked during the summer months in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, increasing by 24% to 40% compared with winter months across all countries included in the analysis.
The authors of the study suggest that the results illustrate the seasonality of the disorder, but acknowledge that more research is needed to confirm the assumption.
“Our novel finding in RLS epidemiology needs to be confirmed in additional samples, and underlying mechanisms must be elucidated,” they conclude.