Restless leg syndrome can be very annoying as it prevents one from sleeping peacefully.
After all, nobody likes waking up multiple times every night because of pain or itching in the legs. You can try listening to some soothing music or getting a Swedish massage once in a while, but the pain can come back.
We have faced such issues ourselves, and we decided to gain in-depth knowledge on it before writing this guide on the top natural remedies for restless leg syndrome. Also, we have written about how to identify the problem so that you have complete clarity on this topic.
What Does Restless Leg Syndrome Mean?
If you have had a constant, nagging, and irresistible urge to keep moving one leg, then you may have been suffering from restless leg syndrome. In this case, you will find yourself pulling the leg or constantly twitching as sensations are experienced by the body like tingling, crawling, and other forms of discomfort.
While the reaction may differ from one person to another, people find it uncomfortable and sometimes very painful.
What Triggers Restless Leg Syndrome?
Mostly, restless leg syndrome is triggered when you are relaxing your leg. If people start moving their legs, then it might provide relief but the sensations may again return when they rest their legs.
Some have complained that this can get worse during night time since you may experience cramps or jerk your legs while sleeping. A hot bath with essential oils can help you before sleeping, as it is important to improve sleep cycles to see noticeable results.
Best Remedies To Tackle Restless Legs Syndrome
As we have mentioned already, restless legs syndrome can make you feel the urge to move your legs constantly. To know more about the causes and cures to this problem, you can always take a look at the restless legs syndrome foundation website(1). After months of research, we were able to compile the best strategies and remedies that you can use to get relief from RLS symptoms.
1. Maintain A Healthy Diet
There are many claims that RLS is a lifestyle disease, and what can make RLS symptoms worse is a bad diet. To best tackle the symptoms, we strongly suggest that you include a good dose of vitamins and proteins in your everyday diet.
To relieve restless leg syndrome, we recommend that you stay away from alcohol or other caffeinated beverages after lunch hours. Avoid taking food and beverages that are difficult to digest and likely to keep you up at night as many people complain that such foods worsen RLS symptoms.
A. Food that Keeps Restless Legs Syndrome At Bay
Restless leg syndrome symptoms are likely to decrease when you consume the right kind of food. As we have already mentioned, magnesium deficiency might aggravate RLS symptoms. And to tackle this issue, try to have almonds as they are rich in magnesium.
The other thing that you can consider including in your diet to fight this is soybeans. They have a good amount of vitamin B9, magnesium, and iron, and are a healthy alternative to processed meat in all types of diets.
Moreover, to negate iron deficiency, you can consider opting for iron supplements.
B. Food And Beverages To Avoid
Try avoiding alcohol, too, if you do not want to deal with uncomfortable sensations. If you drink regularly, it is time to keep track of it and cut down on drinking. Instead of drinking every night, consider taking alcohol on alternative days or every two or three days.
Caffeinated drinks also cause spasms to leg muscles, and that might trigger RLS symptoms. These beverages may worsen RLS symptoms, though some people feel that consuming a cup of coffee in the morning is essential to feel energetic. But you may actually be making it worse for yourself!
While you may stay more active in the morning, the drink may not allow you to sleep at night. Hence, you will not receive proper sleep, which will make you feel dazed throughout the day. Again, a cup of coffee will be necessary to awaken you, and this is the beginning of an endless unhealthy loop.
It is best to cut the cords and realize that coffee needs to be avoided if you are suffering from restless leg syndrome. In case you are really addicted to tea or coffee, it is best that you go with herbal or decaffeinated versions.
2. Hot And Cold Therapy
This is a method of applying a hot and cold compress to the painful area of the leg. Alternate between hot and cold to get maximum relief, and do this before you retire for the night so that there is no pain and you can fall asleep easily.
3. Warm Bath
A warm bath right before bed can relieve symptoms of a restless leg and allow you to fall asleep faster. You can fill a bucket with warm water and add magnesium minerals to it, as these can help in minimizing the symptoms. So, let your legs soak in the warm bath for a while.
Also, after the bath, massage the leg with some cocoa butter, and this will provide further relief to help you relax better.
4. Acupressure And Acupuncture
According to Chinese tradition, acupuncture is a proven way of relieving pain, allowing one to live a better life. And today, the method is used all over the world by people who seek relief from RLS.
This process involves piercing needles at certain points in the body to bring down the pain. In fact, Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion published a study(4) in 2008 that talks about this very issue.
Moving on, acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but it is not as invasive. It will stimulate the movement of energy through channels in the body that are connected to the major organs.
Stress is one of the key reasons today, which can worsen mild RLS symptoms, and meditation can be of great help. If you are wondering, let us tell you that meditation involves a number of deep breathing exercises, which can lower stress levels.
You can practice different poses and Yoga Nidra(5) to help you relax. Also, massage therapy may keep the blood circulating properly inside the body, or you can try out self-massage techniques (6) as well to calm the nerves.
You might be thinking about how reading can help treat RLS all of a sudden. When you concentrate on reading, your mind stays occupied, and that takes the attention away from negative symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Hence, you will not be able to feel the severity of the pain.
Practicing healthy habits like exercising can help you live a better life, and we will advise you to exercise at least three days every week. Now you do not have to take part in strenuous exercises but do easy ones where the body keeps moving.
This should act as an alternative to medicine, and even gentle stretching can help a lot, such as jogging or engaging in Zumba if possible.
Additionally, yoga has proved to be beneficial for a lot of people who have been suffering from restless leg syndrome. When exercising, your body is actually getting tired, which means you will be able to sleep better. And 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every day can be the secret behind a good night’s sleep.
Light stretching every night before bedtime can be very beneficial for your legs and calf muscles. Also, people with RLS have a constant urge to move or scratch. But when you are engaging in light exercises, the legs get to move, and the urge is generally gone after that.
8. Good Night’s Sleep
Practice good sleep hygiene to function better during the day because fatigue (7) is one of the key reasons behind RLS symptoms, and it can immediately increase the pain. People who have sleep apnea or trouble sleeping face restless leg syndrome often.
If you wish to lessen the pain and let the leg heal, you will have to sleep well. Sleep experts say that those who have a proper sleep schedule and sleep at the same time every night heal better. They have improved sleep quality, and the pain subsides quickly.
To do this, it is best if you can have your dinner early and not engage in any strenuous activity at night. Overstimulation has to be prevented in order for the body to calm down. Also, set the alarm for every night and get into bed half an hour to one hour before the scheduled time.
You can then listen to some soft music or audio stories that will help you sleep. There are a lot of stories available online, which can act as a lullaby for you. Moreover, keep breakfast ready for the next morning so that you get a little extra time to spend in bed.
This should give you a few extra minutes to sleep in the morning, and you can just grab breakfast and go to work. While we are on this topic, prioritize sleeping for seven to eight hours each night as that will help your body function better. If you do see some pain develop, apply relieving herbal cream and let yourself drift into sleep.
If you have a Vitamin C, D, E, or magnesium deficiency, then you can get restless leg syndrome easily. In such cases, take an iron supplement along with certain medications to manage your RLS symptoms better.
Probiotics can help by increasing the presence of gut bacteria, which is beneficial for better metabolism. You can think of adding kefir and yogurt to your diet to increase the number of bacteria that enter the body. These will then absorb the necessary nutrients from the food and will prevent unwanted microbes from attacking your digestive system.
While we are at this, you should stay away from gluten if you do not have gluten tolerance. Otherwise, the increased level of gluten in the body can increase restless leg syndrome.
11. Compression Socks
Compression socks can keep the leg snugly in place and ensure that the nerves are held together at all times. These help the blood flow better, and the overall pain should lessen. However, these are pretty tight, and you might need some time to get used to them.
After all, none of us are used to wearing something tight on our legs while sleeping.
12. Herbal Creams
Good quality and trusted herbal creams can act as great remedies for restless leg syndrome. You can purchase over-the-counter herbal creams, which contain a few essential ingredients. For example, the cream can have Ylang-Ylang, lavender, chamomile, and sage, and all of these ingredients are very good for pain relief.
But if the area itches or shakes, then you can purchase creams with Arginine(8) to enhance blood circulation.
Who Are Prone To Suffer From Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms?
Research is continually being carried on about restless leg syndrome and how to deal with it. Some researchers have mentioned that low dopamine(9) can be a reason behind RLS symptoms. However, the reasons behind a low dopamine level are unknown as of now.
In this section, we will be discussing the factors that can determine the development of restless legs syndrome.
1. ADHD Or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are very restless and can keep moving about a lot. They might also have an iron deficiency which could be bad for their health. A lot of these kids are prone to restless legs syndrome, and you need to get them checked if you notice any symptoms.
Women have a tendency to be affected by restless legs syndrome and are at a higher risk than men. That is because they are more vulnerable during pregnancy, and they are prone to having lower levels of iron. However, in the case of pregnancy, the symptoms disappear after a few weeks post giving birth.
While some younger people have been diagnosed with restless legs syndrome, it is most common among older people. You need to be more careful as you grow older and ensure that the body keeps moving even if it is engaging in light exercises.
4. Kidney Disease
It has been found that almost half the people who have kidney dialysis done in their life develop restless leg syndrome. The good news here is that the symptoms may slowly disappear as your health condition gets better after a kidney transplant.
5. Body Type
In Ayurveda, there are three body types which are also called doshas, and they are:
- Pitta Dosha
- Vayu Dosha
- Kapha Dosha
And according to ayurvedic traditions, the Vayu dosha is prone to restless leg syndrome. If you do not know your body type, check online and identify it.
While all medication will not worsen symptoms, there are some drugs that can be detrimental to RLS. If you are consuming antipsychotics, antihistamines, or antidepressants, then you are at greater risk of contracting RLS.
Our bodies need proper nutrition to function well, and that means you will have to keep taking all your vitamins on a regular basis. People who have magnesium, iron, and vitamin B9 deficiency have a higher risk of getting restless legs syndrome. In such a case, take vitamin supplements to ensure that the body’s requirements are met.
Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing restless legs syndrome during their pregnancy. However, it is mostly temporary and will disappear in the first six weeks after the birth of the child. Just ensure that you take the required vitamins and keep your body functioning well.
Additional Tips For Better Restless Leg Syndrome Management
We should specify how it is important to get a doctor’s appointment and not self-diagnose. While you may want to treat the problem at home, getting a proper diagnosis done will rule out any other possible issues.
In this section, we will talk about some additional tips that can help in relieving the pain and dealing with it better.
1. Bath Additions
There are a number of things that you can add to a bath to make it more soothing and enjoyable and to see significant improvement in your condition. Some believe in the healing effects of bath crystals and essential oils, which calm the nerves to help with neurological disorders.
Add lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, or rose essential oils to soothe your body, especially the legs. Also, bentonite clay, as well as baking soda, can be brilliant bath additions. Experiment with them all to find out what works the best for you.
2. Keeping The Mind Engaged
When you are completely immobile, restless leg syndrome may be triggered. To avoid that, engage in some form of activities while sitting, such as knitting, working on a crossword puzzle, reading a book, or playing games on your phone.
If that does not work, call up a friend or a relative and talk to them for a while. This will keep your mind occupied, and you will be able to function better.
3. Keep Blue Light Away
Blue light is emitted from mobiles, tablets, and laptop screens, and this prevents the hormones that induce sleep after working. We will suggest that you limit exposure to blue light after evening. If you still want to watch something or play games, use a blue light filter for the screens, or you can also get computer glasses, which are helpful.
It is best to avoid engaging in screen time if you are nearing your sleep time. Instead, listen to audio stories or soft music that can act as a lullaby.
4. Check For Iron Deficiency
Before taking RLS medication, it is important that you check your body for iron deficiency. Get a blood test, which will help in detecting the issue, and a lot of women face iron deficiency because of menstruation and loss of blood.
It is important to get this checked, and you can then take medication for it. Once the iron level is up to normal, you might see your RLS symptoms disappear.
5. Pregnancy Sleeping Tips
It is very important to find the right position to sleep for pregnant women to keep RLS symptoms away. Sleeping on your belly is almost impossible if you have reached the third trimester. Also, sleeping on your back may put a lot of pressure on the veins and the lower back.
Turning to your left can be a very comfortable position to ensure better blood circulation. You can place a pillow on your back to prevent the body from moving backward. Also, if you do turn on your back, the pillow will provide additional support.
Another pro tip here is placing a pillow between your knees, as that will help the legs relax by providing support.
If you are taking medication but still experiencing restless legs syndrome, it is best to consult a doctor and tell them about the issue. They will then look into it and change your medication if needed.
In case of any discomfort, do not hesitate to contact health professionals as you may not be able to diagnose and solve this problem on your own. But the points we spoke about here will help you deal with restless leg syndrome at home after getting yourself checked.
With this, we will now wrap up the guide, and we hope you have enough information to deal with this specific problem. We will soon be back with more informative articles, so take care and keep exercising!