RLS: 6 Ways To Prevent And Treat Painful Restless Leg Syndrome

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At the end of a long day, there’s nothing better than getting into bed and falling into a deep sleep.

Sleep relaxes you, rejuvenates you, and prepares you for the next day — so when you can’t get a good night’s sleep, it can really mess with you.

Everyone has had a time in their life when they get into bed and can’t seem to drift off to sleep, but when it happens continuously it can become a serious problem.

When you can’t sleep because of your current life circumstances, it’s called acute insomnia.

But when your inability to sleep lasts for a while, it’s called chronic insomnia, and it can have long-lasting impacts on your health.

There are a lot of reasons why people may experience chronic insomnia, but one significant reason is Restless Leg Syndrome.

The National Sleep Foundation estimates that approximately 10 percent of adult Americans suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, which means that 1 in every 10 people has it.

Read on to learn more about this condition, what causes it, and how you can treat it at home!

Thumbnail: Pexels / Public Domain Pictures

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Restless Leg Syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, “is a neurological sensorimotor disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs when they are at rest. The urge to move the legs is usually, but not always, accompanied by unpleasant sensations.”

WebMD explains that “Because it usually interferes with sleep, it is also considered a sleep disorder.”

What Does Restless Leg Syndrome Feel Like?

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

People with Restless Leg Syndrome may experience a variety of symptoms in a range of severity levels.

“People with Restless Leg Syndrome have uncomfortable sensations in their legs (and sometimes arms or other parts of the body) and an irresistible urge to move their legs to relieve the sensations,” explains WebMD.

“The condition causes an uncomfortable, ‘itchy,’ ‘pins and needles,’ or ‘creepy crawly’ feeling in the legs. The sensations are usually worse at rest, especially when lying or sitting.”

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

what

Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Although there are not any direct causes of Restless Leg Syndrome, there are factors and conditions that may contribute to it.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains that these include:

  • Chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy.
  • Certain medications… [including] antinausea drugs (prochlorperazine or metoclopramide), antipsychotic drugs (haloperidol or phenothiazine derivatives), antidepressants that increase serotonin, and some cold and allergy medications-that contain sedating antihistamines.
  • Pregnancy, especially in the last trimester.
  • Alcohol and sleep deprivation also may aggravate or trigger symptoms in some individuals. 
  • How Can I Get Rid Of Restless Leg Syndrome?

    restless

    Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

    There are no cures or perfect treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome, but there are many options that can provide relief.

    The first step to getting treatment if you think you have Restless Leg Syndrome is talking to your doctor, who may prescribe a medication.

    Many of the best-proven way to relieve symptoms include general lifestyle changes, diagnosing any underlying issues, and meeting with a physical therapist.

    The following six Restless Leg Syndrome treatments are easy and manageable, and can even be done right at home.

    Treatment #1: Iron/Vitamin Supplements

    iron

    Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

    There is research that suggests low levels of iron may be linked to Restless Leg Syndrome, so your doctor might recommend taking iron supplements to increase your iron levels.

    Additionally, WebMD explains that “some people get relief from RLS symptoms by taking folic acid, magnesium, or vitamin B12.”

    Treatment #2: Change Your Temperature

    change

    Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

    Sometimes changing your sleeping temperature can change the way you sleep — this is true for Restless Leg Syndrome as well.

    WebMD says, “Try a cool shower or a soak in a warm bath before bedtime. Experiment with either a heating pad or an ice pack on your legs.”

    Treatment #3: Massage Your Legs

    massage

    Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

    Many people with Restless Leg Syndrome do this without thinking about it, but massage is a proven way to alleviate some symptoms.

    “Rubbing your muscles, especially your calves, may help ease your pain and symptoms,” explains WebMD.

    “Try massage right before bed to see if ti helps you get a more restful night’s sleep.”

    Treatment #4: Mild Exercise

    mild

    Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

    Mild exercise, especially right before bed, can be extremely beneficial for people suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome.

    “Regular, mild exercise during the day may help,” WebMD claims. “Take a short walk or try some simple stretching exercises before bed. Be careful you don’t exercise too hard, even if it’s early in the day. Too much or too vigorous exercise can make your RLS symptoms worse.”

    If you notice a positive change when you implement a mild exercise regimen, try adding it into your everyday routine!

    Treatment #5: Decrease Consumption Of Caffeine, Alcohol, And Tobacco

    drinking

    Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

    Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can all affect your sleep schedule.

    The National Sleep Foundation explains that a few things you may want to consider with your doctor include: “looking at your diet to assure it is healthy and balanced,” “eliminating or lessening your alcohol intake,” and “reducing or eliminating caffeine from your diet to aid in general sleep hygiene.”

    Treatment #6: Maintain A Regular Sleep Pattern

    sleep

    Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

    This might seem obvious to some people, but maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can make a huge impact on Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms.

    “Throwing off your sleep pattern can make your RLS symptoms worse. Try going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning,” explains WebMD.

    “To get deep sleep, it may help to go to bed a little later and get up later. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and comfortable. Keep the TV and computer out of the bedroom.”

    If you have a hard time keeping the same sleep schedule, try keeping a sleep journal to keep track of when you go to sleep, when you wake up, and how restful your sleep was.

    Do you or someone you know suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome? Let us know if you have any tricks for dealing with it in the comments below!

    If you like getting a solid night’s sleep,

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