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Clonidine for RLS

Clinical bottom line

Only one study with 10 patients exists for clonidine. Adverse events prevented sufficient dose increase to relieve RLS in most patients.


ML Wagner et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of clonidine in restless legs syndrome. Sleep 1996 19: 52-58.

Clinical trial

This was a cross-over trial comparing clonidine and placebo in 10 patients with RLS. It measured subjective outcomes, but was an in-depth sleep study.


Subjective measures were significantly better with clonidine than placebo, and sleep latency was reduced. Adverse events prevented sufficient dose escalation to completely relieve RLS symptoms.

Table 1: Details of trial

Treatments and Outcomes
Patient details
Adverse Events
Wagner et al. Sleep 1996 19: 52-58 R = 1
DB = 2
WD = 1
QS = 4
Duration = two weeks each
1 Clonidine up to 1mg (mean 0.5 mg) daily (10)
2 Placebo (10)
Outcomes sleep measures, PLMS, and subjective measures
Mean age 44 (range 29-61), with average duration of 16 years of RLS Subjective reports were all significantly in favour of clonidine.
Sleep studies showed reduced sleep latency
Adverse events were common with clonidine and rare with placebo. With clonidine adverse events prevented dose increase to relieve symptoms in 7 of 10 patients



There is insufficient information on which to base any judgement, other than successful use of clonidine for RLS is unlikely in most patients.