Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is technically a neurological sensory sleep disorder. Affecting about 10% of people in the United States, restless leg syndrome is characterized by the irresistible urge to move your legs. Not only can it be a cause of discomfort, but it can also disrupt sleep and lead to other health issues.
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?
People refer to the sensations that cause the legs to move as tingly, creeping, crawling feelings. It often occurs when a person is sleeping, resting, or just sitting. According to health experts, this condition is largely a sensation problem with the brain. The brain is not solely to blame, though, but it can cause abnormal sensations in the leg area. Studies suggest that genetics often play a role, as certain genes elevate the risk of RLS. Sometimes, low iron levels can also lead to RLS symptoms. The reason behind this is that low iron levels affect how the brain processes the sensations that lead to RLS.
For the most part, a series of home remedies help to ease symptoms of RLS. It is a lifelong, chronic condition that does not have a known cure at this time. Consider the following natural remedies to provide relief from symptoms.
Yoga And Stretching
Several studies found that various types of exercise were effective at reducing symptoms of RLS. An eight-week study in 2013 monitored 10 women who practiced yoga daily. The results indicated that yoga was able to reduce their RLS symptoms, and it also improved their mood and lowered stress levels. A different study found that yoga was able to improve sleep in 20 women with RLS. It’s not yet clear why yoga and stretching is beneficial for RLS, but it’s an easy therapy to experiment with.
Stress is the dependable friend that you never want to encounter but always do. People deal with stress on a daily basis, and it can impair both physical and mental health. Stress and anxiety may trigger RLS, which is why many people have restless legs when they’re anxious. There are many ways you can naturally reduce stress, but some beneficial methods include prioritizing self-care activities, journaling, and creating more balance between work and home life. The above tip about yoga and stretching may also be a great way to relieve stress.
Consider Iron Supplements
As mentioned earlier in the article, low iron levels may be one of the causes of RLS. Taking a daily iron supplement or increasing the consumption of iron-rich foods may help relieve symptoms. If the cause of RLS is not low iron levels, though, taking an iron supplement won’t help. Before you purchase an iron supplement, be sure to get a blood test to confirm iron levels. Additionally, discuss what the dosage should be with your doctor.
Use A Foot Wrap
Also known as restiffic, a foot wrap works to put pressure on certain points on the bottom of your foot. The pressure sends messages to the brain, which receives the information and tells the muscles affected by RLS to calm down. A 2013 study found that 30 people who used foot wraps for eight weeks experienced a reduction in RLS symptoms. A restiffic foot wrap is only available by prescription and can cost about $200.
Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol can all trigger RLS symptoms, so avoiding all three of these substances may provide relief. These are the big three to avoid, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. It’s also wise to avoid sugary foods and processed ingredients, especially for kids who have RLS. Fatigue also tends to aggravate restless leg syndrome, so adopting a consistent sleep schedule can also be beneficial. A regular bedtime and wake time is a great first step towards healthier sleep.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that moderate exercise is a great natural remedy to relieve RLS symptoms. A 2006 study monitored 23 people who performed aerobic exercise and lower body resistance training three times a week for 12 weeks. The results indicated that these forms of exercise were able to relieve RLS symptoms. Different studies also found exercise to be effective at relieving restlessness. Additionally, regular exercise may also improve sleep, which is integral for improving the condition. Don’t over-exercise, though, as aches and pains may worsen or trigger symptoms.