Quieting Restless Leg Syndrome – Some Tips For Conquering the Problem

As many as one in 10 people suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), an unpleasant disorder of the nervous system that causes feelings of itching, skin-crawling, pain, or pins-and-needles in the legs when they’re relaxed. People who suffer from the disorder feel compelled to keep moving their legs, which can make sleep impossible for their sleep partner, as well as themselves. Twitching can occur during sleep, as well, which destroys the quality of sleep. 

What Home Remedies Help Relieve RLS Symptoms?

The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation offers a number of recommendations for dealing with RLS. 

  • Resisting the urge to move may make your symptoms worse. Try to occupy your mind with something else instead, like reading a book or working on crossword puzzles in bed until you are ready for sleep. Don’t play games on your phone or tablet, though, as the light from the screen can make insomnia worse. 
  • Try to stand and walk more during the day. Consider a standing desk for office work, taking stairs instead of an elevator, and always parking at the far end of the lot. 
  • Stretch your legs first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. 
  • Experiment with temperatures to see if heat or cold helps. Try hot and cold showers, heating pads, and ice packs and see if any of them help.
  • Pressure can help. Try massaging your legs, wrapping them, or having heavy blankets.
  • When traveling, try to schedule your flights early in the day and walk up and down the aisles frequently. On road trips, take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs. 

How Can You Keep RLS From Affecting Your Sleeping Partner?

Anyone who shares a bed with an RLS sufferer is going to lose sleep to the disorder as well. How can you minimize the impact on your loved one?

  • One of the most effective methods is wrapping your legs or wearing compression stockings, to keep pressure on your skin.
  • Make a ritual of nighttime massage, and end the session each night with the RLS sufferer receiving a leg massage.
  • A larger bed will help keep your partner from being bothered by your movements. So will a mattress material that minimizes motion transfer, like memory foam. 
  • If your situation is extreme,  consider twin beds pushed together, so you can be near each other but have separate blankets and mattresses.

Do Medications Help?

There are medications that are commonly prescribed for RLS. Anti-convulsive drugs can sometimes take the edge off the unpleasant sensations in your legs. If your biggest issue is a lack of sleep, your doctor might prescribe a sleeping pill. Those who have serious pain in their legs might be offered a pain medication.

Take Good Care Of Yourself

Recent studies have found that a healthy self-care routine can help a great deal. Getting regular exercise and limiting  refined carbohydrates is good advice for anyone, but both factors have been shown to reduce symptoms of RLS in particular. If your iron levels are low, a supplement can also help. Ask your doctor to check your serum ferritin levels. Serum ferritin is the body’s main storage for iron, and a serum ferritin test is the best way to measure your iron levels.

RLS and the accompanying loss of sleep can have a serious impact on your quality of life. Be sure to talk openly with your friends and family about what you’re coping with, and consider joining a support group.