R.L.S. is called restless legs syndrome and a condition that makes sleeping extremely difficult. Legs may ache, burn, tingle, twitch or jerk, keeping you awake most of the night. You need deep sleep and this surely doesn’t help matters. There are many recommendations to help overcome this condition.
You may try going to bed a little later and then sleeping later in the morning, as those morning hours may be some of your best rest. Make an effort of going to sleep and waking up at the same time every night, if possible. R.L.S. may stop a bad cycle where fatigue makes your symptoms worse, and then the twitching and tingling will ruin your sleep for another night. Be sure to monitor how much sleep you need to feel your very best, which is usually 7 to 9 hours for most adults.
Try some gentle stretching before bedtime. Doing calf stretches by stepping forward and bending your front leg while keeping your back leg straight, with a small lunge, might be helpful. Just be sure to put your hand on a wall for support if your balance requires it. Perform this stretch on both sides. This will also help you if you’ve been sitting a long time.
Caffeine gives you a burst of energy, so cut out the coffee, tea, chocolate and cola. This extra caffeine can affect some people for as long as 12 hours.
How about that nice warm soak in a bathtub? This will relax you and that always makes it easier to fall asleep. Use this classic way to wind down and help your R.L.S.
Another way to combat this problem would be to try using a heating pad or ice packs. Use whichever feels good because either temperature can be soothing.
Exercising moderately during the day will help you sleep better at night. No matter if it’s walking, jogging, lifting weights or any other source of activity, this will also help you get that longer and deeper sleep. Avoid intense exercise before bedtime as that could make your symptoms worse.
Don’t forget your brain. Many activities that distract your mind can sometimes ease your symptoms like a crossword puzzle, a good book or even playing a video game.
Move or shake your legs when they begin to feel achy or twitchy and take slow, deep breaths. Dimming lights and listening to soothing music can help. In addition, try massaging your calves before bed to calm those legs. Yoga combines stretching, deep breathing and relaxation, so try this is you haven’t already.
It’s a good idea to turn the TV and computer off in the bedroom as both of these can make it harder to fall asleep. Try a TV and computer free zone in the bedroom.
Avoid that alcohol and cigarettes. A drink may relax you but you’re more likely to wake up during the night. Nicotine triggers R.L.S. symptoms so avoid tobacco products.
People with this condition often have low levels of iron in their blood that the body needs to make dopamine, a brain chemical that helps control movement. Your doctor can recommend a supplement that you can take with orange juice or another vitamin C source. If you are taking cold and allergy drugs, they can also trigger R.L.S. symptoms and especially some antihistamines. There are always other drugs out there that can be recommended by your doctor that won’t affect your symptoms.
Try taking a few of these suggestions for calming that restless leg syndrome and find yourself a better restful night of sleep to wake up completely rested and ready to take on a new day.
-Dr Fredda Branyon