Ways to Stop Restless Legs at Night

Here are some facts about RLS. RLS most commonly occurs at night, and is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease. The symptoms of restless leg syndrome (RLS) are sensory complaints that are felt in the legs when they have been in relative rest for a while. They can happen in any part of the body that has sensation. At the end of each day, when you’re trying to relax and unwind, these uncomfortable sensations make it difficult to fall asleep, leading to loss of sleep and an overall decrease in your quality of life.

Staying up at night makes us restless, especially when it comes to the night. Here are some useful hacks that might help you with your restless leg syndrome in the middle of the night, when you have an irresistible urge to keep moving around for no apparent reason.

Quick Restless Leg Treatments

Luckily, there are treatments for restless leg syndrome. You can find a solution to get you back in bed quickly.

Get Out of Bed

Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome are typically worse after a long period of rest. To alleviate symptoms immediately and efficiently, sometimes getting in a short walk or quick stretches can calm RLS down quickly, so it doesn't get out of control as much once you go to bed later on. Always remember to keep the movements small and relaxed, so you're not going overboard with something that could just kick your RLS back into high gear afterwards. Getting your heart rate up too much will have an opposite effect if done before bedtime, especially if it's already been affecting your sleep cycle for a while now.

Apply a Hot Pack

Heat is a great way to keep muscles from spasming and staying flexible. So take it easy on yourself by applying a little extra heat with the choice of a Microwavable Aromatherapy heating pad or taking a hot shower before bed. Guaranteed, you'll feel more at ease, without jittery symptoms keeping you up all night!

Wear a Foot Wrap or Compression Socks

The biggest risk factor in restless leg syndrome is lack of blood flow. Compression helps promote better blood circulation, which can be the key factor in easing the pain or discomfort that often comes with RLS. The compression itself has also been shown to help muffle any strange sensations and prevent them from becoming more intense, as they often won't do when your nervous system gets overstimulated.

TENS Therapy

When it comes to treating pain and discomfort, TENS units are like a relief potion in a way. The gentle electrical pulses that it send help calm the nerves, reduce swelling and provide an overall soothing effect. This means if you have any pain or aches, you may want to consider using a TENS unit to put yourself at ease.

Acupuncture

Believe it or not, acupuncture can help with that tight feeling in your legs. Research shows that the areas of the brain and nervous system may play a role in the discomfort you are experiencing, and treating those areas can be done through acupuncture. For home options, we suggest you try acupressure on various points within both feet, since it is believed to be more effective than point pressure alone. You could also lie on an acupressure mat if you don't have many other options available at home.

Elevate Your Legs

Improper sleep posture can not only increase the discomfort you may experience from RLS at night, but also leave your entire body feeling fatigued during the day. While sleeping is obviously something we all do regularly, it is important to remember that proper restful sleep is crucial for overall health. Most individuals prefer to sleep facing up or sideways lying on their sides. Having used pillows between our legs just feels right to promote blood flow through our joints and muscles in our legs, as well as throughout the rest of the body.

Ways to Prevent RSL at Night

Establish Good Sleep Hygiene

Having good sleep habits can help diminish the symptoms you are experiencing at night. The basics include:

  • Avoid napping for long periods during the day (no more than 30 minutes if absolutely necessary).
  • Get enough moderate exercise each day (or most days), preferably in the morning.
  • Have a cool, dark, and quiet sleep environment.  Consider black out curtains and ear plugs, or white noise if needed.
  • Use consistent relaxation techniques for your evening routine, such as meditation, reading, visiting with a loved one, etc.
  • Minimize screen time and other highly stimulating activities in the last hour before bed.

Dietary Changes

The thing about the human body is that it's extremely sensitive to anything that you put into it, like food and drink. It's important to understand how each day affects your body and brain, so try to remember these ideas and keep them in mind:

Iron

Iron deficiency has been directly correlated with RLS due to its effect on dopamine within the brain. If you’ve been experiencing restless leg symptoms, increasing your intake of iron in sufficient amounts can help alleviate those symptoms. Iron can be taken either via a supplement or from food sources, such as spinach, broccoli, red meat, fish and eggs. If you aren’t sure about your iron levels, why not arrange for an affordable blood test?

Eat less sugar

Sugar is a natural sweetener that allows the human body to obtain energy from other food sources. However, too much sugar and poor blood flow can have unhealthy consequences due to the body’s ability to effectively process these substances. Although sugar occurs naturally in many foods, added sugars, such as those found in candy, cookies and pastries, are usually the culprit in calories consumed that exceed our daily recommendations. Be sure to pay attention to how much added sugar you consume by reading nutrition labels!

Eat less processed food

Eating less processed food can help control your weight and prevent issues arising from the disruption of normal bodily functions. Additionally, a whole foods plant based diet will provide you with an optimal intake of nutrition that is beneficial for a healthy functioning body.

Regular Exercise

Periodic limb movements (like walking and mild stretches) before bed are good for most people with RLS. However, consistency in exercise is the best way to feel better, not just now, but also in years to come. Not only is this said to decrease symptoms of restless leg syndrome, but exercise also promotes better sleep, pain management and stress control, which can help make life more manageable with RLS.

Relaxation Techniques

Unfortunately, sleep disorders are more common than most people think. If you find restless leg syndrome disrupts your sleep, which causes disruptive pain and discomfort. A study has shown that relaxation techniques, such as yoga and massage therapy, may reduce your symptoms.

Safe and Effective Restless Leg Syndrome Treatment

Restless leg syndrome is an unfortunate health condition that affects around 15 million Americans, and often those already disabled. Fortunately, the symptoms of restless leg syndrome do not lead to further health problems in most cases, though, which is reassuring.

However, you should be aware that some severe forms could cause a lack of sleep and insomnia due to the urge to wander around. This makes it difficult for sufferers to cope with everyday life demanding they need a doctor's help, as mentioned earlier. A medical professional will assess how severe your RLS condition is, and can prescribe treatments such as relaxation drugs like gabapentin and dopamine. On another note, check out for medications from other health conditions that may worsen your symptoms, such as antidepressants or antihistamines for allergies (which also includes things like bug repellent).

If any of the following symptoms are present, something further may be going on. You may suffer from other health conditions, including sleep disorders related to sleep apnea or insomnia, movement disorders related to Parkinson's, muscle diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid issues and diabetes, as well as many more serious conditions that can also cause RLs. Seek medical advice immediately if you experience problems with any of these:

  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • A sudden significant decrease in your ability to balance with weight bearing activity
  • Involuntary movements of the legs and/or arms
  • Onset of symptoms and discomfort in other areas of the body, particularly the back
  • Changes in strength or sensation in the lower legs
  • Rigidity and trouble initiating movements in the legs
  • Tingling or burning in the legs, this is a sign of nerve injury
  • Moderate to severe pain in the legs

Conclusion

Unfortunately, the exact cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown. Luckily, treatment for it can be pretty straightforward once you have an idea of what works for you: If a hot bath or exercise just doesn't seem to help your symptoms, try adjusting your diet. Eliminate caffeine and foods with tyramine from your daily routine, and replace them with lots of water and healthy fats. This change in diet will help you get those restful nights back. Try implementing relaxation techniques into your day that are calming on their own, like yoga or meditation. This way, if you start having restless legs during the day, you'll already know how to deal with it better than before!


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