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How to Ease Restless Legs Syndrome and Get Some Sleep

by BetterSleep
Oct 29 • 4 min read

If you go to bed sleepy, only to have your legs twitch and itch and tingle keeping you awake, you might have restless legs syndrome. This frustrating condition makes it difficult to fall asleep because it gets worse at night and after sitting or lying down for a long period of time.

Not only does having this syndrome make it more challenging for you to fall asleep, but it can also disrupt your partner—moving around is what provides relief. If you’re struggling with restless legs syndrome we have some ideas to help you improve your sleep, naturally and without medication.

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1. Apply heat before bed.

A soak in a warm tub before trying to sleep can help relieve the tingling, aching, or itching sensations this condition causes. Using warm compresses or heating pads to warm the legs can also help provide relief. Conversely, some people find ice packs are better for alleviating the uncomfortable sensations. Use what works for you.

2. Try massage.

Like heat or cold therapy, many people find that a massage of the leg brings relief to the sensations of restless legs syndrome. If you have a partner willing to help you out, make a massage a nightly ritual. If you’re on your own, there are plenty of handheld massage tools available that can help you get to sleep.

3. Get plenty of exercise, but not too late in the day.

Exercise will help you get a better night’s sleep regardless of restless legs. But if you have this condition, regular exercise can lessen the symptoms and make falling asleep easier. Just avoid working out later in the day or working out too intensely. Both of these could make your leg symptoms even worse at night.

Just before getting into bed, try the Sleep Moves on BetterSleep. Gentle exercises you can do right in bed will relax the body and prepare you for sleep. This may provide some relief from leg symptoms and take your mind off them.

4. Practice good sleep hygiene.

For better sleep overall, it’s important to have a bedtime routine with established sleep and wake times. A calm and comfortable bedroom environment also helps ease you into sleep. Restless legs syndrome is exacerbated by poor sleep and fatigue, which of course in turn makes sleeping more difficult creating a vicious cycle.

5. Treat any digestive issues.

Studies have shown there is a link between restless legs and certain gastrointestinal conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Why this is the case is not well understood yet. But, if you have any troubling digestive symptoms, see your doctor for an exam and suggestions on how to manage it. Doing so will probably help you sleep better.

6. Check your iron levels.

Another medical condition that may trigger restless legs syndrome is iron deficiency, or anemia. If you suspect you may have low iron, it’s important to see your doctor to confirm it. Iron supplements can greatly improve symptoms, but only if you are already low in iron. Your doctor can recommend the right amount of iron to take.

Restless legs syndrome is unfortunately a lifelong condition. For most people, though, there are periods of remission when symptoms disappear. In the meantime, use these strategies to ease the discomfort and get to sleep more easily.

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