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Sleep Med. 2018 May;45:124-131. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2018.02.007. Epub 2018 Mar 8.

Restless legs syndrome is associated with major comorbidities in a population of Danish blood donors.

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Department of Clinical Immunology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Department of Neurology, John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA.
Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; National Institute for Health Research, Blood and Transplant Research Unit in Donor Health and Genomics, Cambridge, UK.
Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Danish Center for Sleep Medicine, Glostrup, Denmark; Faculty of Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Institute of Biological Psychiatry, Mental Health Centre Sct. Hans, Mental Health Services, Roskilde, Denmark; Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research, iPSYCH, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Department of Clinical Immunology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.
Department of Clinical Immunology, Nastved Sygehus, Nastved, Denmark.
Department of Clinical Immunology, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark.
Department of Clinical Immunology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark.
Department of Clinical Immunology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address:



Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is characterized by uncomfortable nocturnal sensations in the legs making sedentary activities and sleep difficult, and is thus linked with psychosocial distress. Due to the symptomatology and neurobiology of RLS (disrupting brain iron and dopamine) it is likely that RLS associates with poorer health-related quality of life (HRQL) and depressive disorder. The objective of this study was to investigate the RLS-HRQL and the RLS-depressive disorder links in a generally healthy population that is not biased by medications.


Complete data, including the Cambridge-Hopkins RLS questionnaire, the 12-item short-form standardized health survey (SF-12), the Major Depression Inventory (MDI), body mass index, smoking status, alcohol consumption, and education were available for 24,707 participants enrolled in the Danish Blood Donor Study from May 1, 2015 to February 1, 2017. Information on quality of sleep was available for all RLS cases. T-tests and multivariable logistic regression models were applied to examine the associations of RLS and MDI scores, and the physical and mental component scores (PCS and MCS) of SF-12, respectively. Analyses were conducted separately for men and women.


RLS associated with poorer MCS and poorer PCS. Moreover, Participants with RLS were more likely to classify with depressive disorder. Poor quality of sleep was associated with depressive disorder and poorer MCS among RLS cases, and with poorer PCS in female RLS cases.


Thus, we demonstrated that RLS is associated with a significantly lower HRQL and a higher prevalence of depressive disorder among otherwise healthy individuals.


Comorbidities; Depressive disorder; Quality of life; Restless legs syndrome; Sleep disturbance; The Danish blood donor study

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