If you do any of the things (shown in the pics below) at night, in hopes of finding some relief; having difficulty in sleeping due to creepy crawly weird sensations & restlessness in legs; you may be having RLS or restless leg syndrome.
It is a neurological problem of the legs where you have an urge to move your legs unnecessarily. You may feel pain deep inside or on the surface & feel like rubbing or twitching or massaging. The problem becomes worse when you cannot sleep peacefully. This may lead to sleepless night, tiredness & irritability during day, making it difficult to function properly. RLS occurs in both genders at any age, slightly higher in women. However, most patients are middle-aged or older; the severity of the disorder appears to increase with age. Older patients experience symptoms more frequently and for longer periods of time.
Simple ways to find some relief:
- AVOID SMOKING or Alcohol: These things aggravate the symptoms of RLS especially if done before bedtime.
- WALK or do stretching exercise: When you have restlessness or urge to move your legs at night, just get up & move around the home to relieve the uneasiness. Also, you may lie & stretch your legs & toes forward & back. Repeat couple of times.
- EXERCISE esp. before going to bed: Go for late night walk, do some cycling, or exercise at home (read about leg exercises on my page on Leg problems). You can also do yoga & meditation. Experiment with any such things & see the difference. Any exercise routine, day or night will improve blood circulation & also release endorphins that help to cheer you up & reduce stress, thus giving you better sleep at night. Swimming is also good for legs.
- AVOID CERTAIN MEDICATIONS: Allergy & cold medicines may aggravate the problem as they have stimulants. Do not become addictive to sleeping pills to find relief from RLS.
- REGULAR SLEEPING TIME: Always try to sleep & get up at the same time everyday. Maintain a fixed sleeping schedule. Avoid discussing or doing stressful stuff at night. Keep mind relaxed, avoid late TV watching.
- FOODS to avoid: Do not eat heavy meals at night which may cause uneasy stomach. Also, avoid caffeine products at night- coffee/tea/soda etc. Eat a balanced diet rich in Vitamins & iron.
- REDUCE Weight if Obese: both obesity and belly fat increased the risk of having RLS because studies have shown that obese peole have fewer dopamine receptors in the brain. Scientists believe that RLS is related to abnormal dopamine activity. If you’re overweight, healthy eating and physical activity can help you take off excess pounds.
- Massage Oil: Before sleeping have someone massage your legs with warm olive oil or any massaging oils to increase circulation. Heating pads or warm presses on leg muscles could also help relieve the aches at night. You may also dip legs in warm water before going to bed or try hot water bath.
- Take Vitamin Supplements: Vitamin deficiency can lead to increased symptoms of RLS. Discuss with doctor about taking Vit supplements mainly Vit B 12, Vit D, Iron, & magnesium.
- Take Orange Juice: Orange juice has large amounts of potassium that help to relieve the symptoms. Take it for some time before going to bed & see if it helps.
Always consult doctor before starting any medication.
Two medications have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of RLS – Mirapex (pramipexole) and Requip (ropinirole). Both drugs increase dopamine levels and are also used to treat Parkinson's disease. Other medications such as benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants may be prescribed off-label. (healthcentral.com)