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J Clin Sleep Med. 2020 Jan 15;16(1):107-119. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.8134.

Effects of a 12-week yoga versus a 12-week educational film intervention on symptoms of restless legs syndrome and related outcomes: an exploratory randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Epidemiology, West Virginia University School of Public Health, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Health Science Center Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Department of Family Medicine, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio.
West Virginia University College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Department of Biostatistics, West Virginia University School of Public Health, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington.



To assess the effects of a yoga versus educational film (EF) program on restless legs syndrome (RLS) symptoms and related outcomes in adults with RLS.


Forty-one community-dwelling, ambulatory nonpregnant adults with moderate to severe RLS were randomized to a 12-week yoga (n = 19) or EF program (n = 22). In addition to attending classes, all participants completed practice/treatment logs. Yoga group participants were asked to practice at home 30 minutes per day on nonclass days; EF participants were instructed to record any RLS treatments used on their daily logs. Core outcomes assessed pretreatment and posttreatment were RLS symptoms and symptom severity (International RLS Study Group Scale (IRLS) and RLS ordinal scale), sleep quality, mood, perceived stress, and quality of life (QOL).


Thirty adults (13 yoga, 17 EF), aged 24 to 73 (mean = 50.4 ± 2.4 years), completed the 12-week study (78% female, 80.5% white). Post-intervention, both groups showed significant improvement in RLS symptoms and severity, perceived stress, mood, and QOL-mental health (P ≤ .04). Relative to the EF group, yoga participants demonstrated significantly greater reductions in RLS symptoms and symptom severity (P ≤ .01), and greater improvements in perceived stress and mood (P ≤ .04), as well as sleep quality (P = .09); RLS symptoms decreased to minimal/mild in 77% of yoga group participants, with none scoring in the severe range by week 12, versus 24% and 12%, respectively, in EF participants. In the yoga group, IRLS and RLS severity scores declined with increasing minutes of homework practice (r = .7, P = .009 and r = .6, P = .03, respectively), suggesting a possible dose-response relationship.


Findings of this exploratory RCT suggest that yoga may be effective in reducing RLS symptoms and symptom severity, decreasing perceived stress, and improving mood and sleep in adults with RLS.


Registry:; Title: Yoga vs. Education for Restless Legs: a Feasibility Study; Identifier: NCT03570515; URL:


education; exercise therapy; mental health; mind-body; quality of life; restless legs syndrome; sleep disorders; yoga


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