Lifestyle Treatments for Restless Legs Syndrome

April 3, 2012

in Restless Leg Syndrome, Sleeping Disorders

If you’re bothered by an overwhelming urge to move your legs when you lie down, or unpleasant sensations in your legs keep you up at night, you may have a sleep disorder known as restless legs syndrome (RLS). The tingling, aching, and itching of restless legs syndrome is usually worse at night and can prevent you and your partner from getting the sleep you need.

Although restless legs syndrome (RLS) is common—many studies estimate that 1 out of 10 people have it—it hasn’t always been easy to find help and support. Unfortunately, many RLS sufferers never get proper treatment because it’s hard to explain and often misdiagnosed as being “nervous.” Other people—even doctors—may not take restless legs seriously, recognize the symptoms, or realize it’s a real medical condition. Those who haven’t experienced the distressing symptoms may not understand how severely restless legs syndrome can impact the quality of your life and that of your bed partner.

Fortunately, restless legs syndrome (RLS) can be treated. In recent years, experts have discovered better ways to manage and relieve symptoms. Medical treatment, healthy lifestyle changes, and even simple stretches and home remedies can help you quiet your restless legs and enjoy a peaceful and refreshing night’s sleep. In this article we’ll look at some of the lifestyle changes you can make that may help with the disorder.

Lifestyle treatments for restless legs syndrome (RLS)

There is a lot you can do to take care of restless legs syndrome yourself. Mild restless legs syndrome (RLS) can often be treated with lifestyle changes alone. The following daytime habits can help reduce the frequency and severity of your restless legs symptoms.

Sleep better by sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Fatigue can worsen the symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS), so doing what it takes to get enough sleep is crucial. Try hitting the sack at the same time every night, allowing plenty of time for winding down (try warm baths or reading in bed).
Exercise in moderation. Daily activity, including moderate aerobic exercise and lower-body resistance training, can significantly reduce the symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS). Swim, go for a walk, take the stairs, or spend a few minutes doing jumping jacks. Keep in mind that excessive exercise—like training for a marathon—can actually make restless legs syndrome worse.
Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine often makes the symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS) worse. Try reducing or eliminating your consumption of coffee, tea, soft drinks, and caffeine-containing foods such as chocolate.
Avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Many people with restless legs syndrome find that their symptoms improve when they stop drinking and smoking.
Consider dietary supplements. Check with a doctor or nutritionist to find out if you’re low on iron, vitamin B, folic acid, or magnesium. Deficiencies can bring on restless legs syndrome (RLS).
Lose weight. If you’re overweight, dropping the extra pounds can often relieve or lessen the symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS).
Try practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation. Stress can make RLS symptoms worse. Daily stretching and meditation can promote relaxation and alleviate restless legs syndrome (RLS).

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug April 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Wasn’t RLS just recently “defined”. I don’t believe it even existed a few years ago … I thought this was just a case of the pharma industry discovering a condition after they discovered a cure.

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Droog July 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Now that I read the articles my legs won’t stop itching & moving. Thanks a lot. Haha

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