What Helps Restless Legs?
One of the worst things about restless legs syndrome – other than the uncomfortable sensations it causes – is that there is no known cure. That means the 10% of people who have the condition need to find ways to manage their symptoms so they can sleep soundly at night and function normally during the day.
There are many ways to manage the condition using medication, but some people want to know what helps restless legs. They want to know what they can do to better manage the condition at home without the need for medication. There isn’t a single universal answer to that question. Read on for our advice on what helps restless legs and see what works for you.
Several things contribute to restless legs, with a lack of iron being a major risk factor. Many people have found relief from the disorder by supplementing with iron. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking supplements though. They can assess you to make sure you actually have a deficiency. Having too much of a mineral can be just as dangerous as having too little. They may be able to recommend other supplements you should take as well.
We all have some kind of food sensitivity and may not even be aware of it. Some people have had success with managing their RLS by reducing gluten and MSG intake. It won’t cure the condition but it will prevent the autoimmune response that causes the symptoms. Once again, be sure to discuss any food sensitivities you might have with your doctor to get them treated. They could be making your RLS worse than it needs to be.
Restless legs syndrome is among the many things that regular exercise can help with. Working out can release dopamine and endorphins to null pain and make you feel better. Stretching your lower muscles is a great way to exercise with ALS. Yoga is also effective for RLS. Try to get your workout in early so that your body has enough time to cool down and rest before you try to sleep. Don’t overdo it either. Stick to low-impact aerobics and resistance exercises. Working too hard puts a lot of stress on muscles which could make RLS worse.
Anxiety is a common symptom of having restless legs. People are anxious about their condition and worry that it could flare up at the worst times, especially when they are trying to sleep or want a social function to go well. IT can help to distract yourself and not focus on the negative. Find a creative and positive way to stimulate your brain instead such as reading, playing card games, solving puzzles, and having a good conversation with someone.
Training yourself in stress reduction techniques can help you to manage the symptoms of RLS. People who use these mindfulness-based techniques take a proactive approach to their anxiety instead of letting it take them over. Instead of worrying that the symptoms will appear, accept that and tell yourself that you’re going to deal with them. Preparing yourself for the symptoms like this helps you to deal with them and manage them.
Much like some drugs can improve RLS symptoms, others can make them worse. The list of medications that negatively affect RLS include antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and anti-nausea drugs. Talk to your doctor about what medication you are on and ask them for any recommendations. Never stop – or start – taking a medication without approval from your doctor.
We humans instinctively rub ourselves where something hurts. This can actually help with restless legs. A good massage has been shown to help alleviate the tingling sensation and ease other symptoms. Even a little light massage can have a big impact. Compression socks can also help to manage RLS symptoms and get some rest at night.
Have a Little Love
We already covered how being active can help with RLS, but being sexually active in particular works surprisingly well. Sexual activity releases dopamine and epinephrine. It will also just distract you away from what’s happening with your legs and give you something else to focus on.
Some people swear by the idea of changing how your bed is arranged and made. If you have the covers tucked too tightly it can cause you to have to point your toes, which may cramp up calf muscles and cause RLS symptoms to worsen. Keep things loose and keep your legs and feet in a natural position. Keeping your feet propped up in bed may also help to deal with RLS.
There’s plenty of suggestions out there for drinks that help with RLS. Poppy seed tea is a popular choice because of the trace amounts of opiates. Tonic water is another good choice because it has quinine, which has been used traditionally to deal with muscle cramps. The FDA banned the sale of quinine because it was shown to very rarely cause serious side effects, but it is considered safe in the trace amounts found in tonic water. Drinking tonic water hasn’t been scientifically proven to help with RLS but many people still try it and swear that it does work for them. At the very least it’s worth trying for yourself to see if you get any relief.
Stimulants of any kind should be avoided if you have restless legs syndrome. That means cutting out the alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. RLS sufferers who cut out drinking and smoking have been shown to have less symptoms than those who do. It’s okay to have alcohol before 6PM but caffeine should be dropped altogether. It stays in the system too long and causes jitters and other side effects that exacerbate RLS.
Technology may have the answer for RLS sufferers. Relaxis is a technological device that is the only non-drug treatment that the FDA has cleared for treating RLS. Talk to your doctor about it to get a prescription for it if you are interested. Relaxis is a pad that gives out vibrations that counter the stimulation caused by RLS. The device is said to be as effective as medication, but it has yet to be independently studied to see if those claims hold water.
Soap in the Bed
One of the strangest things that helps with RLS is to keep a bar of soap in the bedroom. Either put it under your shirts, between your legs, or hold it as you go to sleep. This has shown to help with nocturnal cramping. Many patients swear by it and even some medical professionals have suggested that it really could help. It could just be a placebo effect, or maybe it really does work. There are two theories as to why it works; the first is that people are using scented soap that has aromatherapy effects, and the other is that soap has chemical compounds that evaporate and seep into the body to open blood vessels and ease symptoms. Either way, this is one way to help RLS symptoms that seems to work.
Hot and Cold Treatments
Different people have had different levels of success with hot and cold treatments, including hot or cold baths, foot baths, jet baths, hot and cold compresses, essential oils, and Epsom salt in baths. A nice warm bath can help to relax you and take your mind of things, which has been shown to help. It could also be a placebo effect. If you believe that your warm bath will take away your symptoms then it will. Either way, try having a nice warm relaxing bath and see what it does for you.
Natural Restless Leg Syndrome Relief
While there is no single known cure for restless legs syndrome, there are still plenty of things that you can do to better manage and relieve the symptoms at home. Start out by making a few small lifestyle changes. Cut out stimulants life caffeine, adopt a regular exercise plan, supplement any nutrient deficiencies, and get regular massages.
If you’re interested in how medication can help – or hinder – RLS then talk to your doctor about it. They can go over your current medications with you to see if they could be causing a problem. They can also recommend new medications to you or may be able to offer you a Relaxis prescription.
Nobody knows your RLS like you do. Try out some different things and see what helps your restless legs syndrome symptoms. What works for you might not work for someone else, and what works for them might not work for you.