Many people around the world are affected by Restless legs syndrome (RLS). If you are one of them then you have probably looked at many restless legs syndrome treatment options.
Thankfully, there are a number of natural treatments for RLS that can be helpful in relieving the symptoms of this condition and helping you to rest well at night. While there’s no cure for RLS, Restless legs syndrome treatment includes:
- Massaging your legs
- Sleeping with a weighted blanket for restless legs
- Using compression socks
- Taking a hot bath before bedtime
- Apply hot or cold packs to the muscles of your legs
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Have a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Distract your mind with pleasant activities
Table Of Contents
What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition that causes an overwhelming urge to move your legs, which is often accompanied by unusual and uncomfortable sensations on the legs, and occasionally on other body parts such as the arms.
Anybody can develop the condition regardless of their background, though it is more common for women and older adults. It is a very common condition, and it is thought that around 10% of people will be affected by restless legs syndrome at some point in their lifetime.
The condition very often worsens during the evening and nighttime, and when you are resting rather than moving around. As a result, the worst effect of restless legs syndrome is often the sleep difficulties and insomnia that it causes, which can severely impact your physical and mental health and could lead to the development of other health conditions.
Cases of RLS vary from mild, where the symptoms may only appear occasionally, to severe, where the condition can have a devastating impact on everyday life.
In addition to having worsened sleep problems, people with severe RLS may find it very difficult to do any activities that involve staying still for longer periods of time, such as going to the cinema or riding in a car or plane.
What causes restless legs syndrome (RLS)?
The causes of restless legs syndrom (RLS) are still not well understood. It is thought that it may be a result of the brain not producing enough dopamine, which can cause involuntary muscle movements among other issues.
Dopamine will naturally be reduced even further during the late hours of the day, which would explain why symptoms worsen in the evening.
There are also specific genes that are linked to restless legs syndrome, and having a family history of the condition heightens the risk of developing it.
It is also more common to develop the condition during pregnancy, however in this case it usually disappears after the person has given birth.
It is also possible to develop the condition during or before period, or as a result of another health problem, such as iron deficiency or kidney disease.
This is known as secondary restless legs syndrome.
Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment (RLS)
There is sadly no known cure for restless legs syndrome, but there are many treatments that can help to control it and prevent it from affecting daily life too much.
For more mild cases of restless legs syndrome, a few lifestyle changes may be sufficient to relieve the symptoms. These natural RLS treatments can include:
- Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evening, and quitting smoking
- Creating healthy sleep habits, such as waking up and going to bed at the same times every day, sleeping with a weighted blanket, and making sure to relax before bedtime.
- Having a healthy and balanced diet that provides you with all the nutrients your body needs, while taking care to avoid any foods that trigger your symptoms
- Exercising regularly, while taking care not to overdo it or exercise too close to bedtime
- Distract your mind with pleasant activities like watching TV
- Use compression socks. Those special socks apply pressure on your legs and can help relieve the symptoms of restless leggs.
- Relieving symptoms by:
- Taking hot baths
- Massaging your legs
- Applying hot or cold packs to the muscles on your legs
For more severe cases of the condition, medication may be required. This may be medication such as:
- Dopamine agonists, which increase dopamine levels
- Painkillers to relieve any pain that the symptoms are causing
- Medicines that help you to sleep.
If it is secondary restless legs syndrome, it will usually be curable by treating the health condition that caused it to develop.
For example, an iron deficiency can lead to low levels of dopamine, which is thought to be one of the main causes of restless legs syndrome. So treating the deficiency should allow your body to produce dopamine at the correct levels again.
weighted blanket treatment for restless leg syndrome
Most people with restless legs syndrome experience great difficulties with sleeping as a result, which has many negative effects on both their health and on their daily life.
Here’s how a weighted blanket can help with RLS:
- Increased dopamine levels: weighted blankets use deep pressure stimulation to to help your body naturally increase its levels of dopamine. This helps to reduce the severity of the RLS symptoms you experience at bedtime, helping you to get much better sleep.
- Reduced Stress: lower levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. Stress is one of the possible triggers for the symptoms of restless legs syndrome, and so finding ways to reduce could be an important part of finding relief.
- Reducing anxiety: a weighted blanket for anxiety will help you to feel calmer and bring you comfort during difficult times. Being calmer will help relieve the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.
- Pressure on your legs: a weighted duvet will increase the pressure on your legs. This has a soothing effect on your leg muscles and helps ease any tension in them.
- Reduced leg movements: the heavy weight of the blanket will prevent your legs from moving around as much. This will hopefully reduce the disturbances that your symptoms cause you during the night.
- Helps to distract your mind: The soothing feeling of the weighted blanket on top of you gives you something else to focus your attention on and should make your symptoms less disturbing to your rest.
Restless legs syndrome treatment may involve multiple remedies and lifestyle changes. One very popular combination to treat RLS at night is to use compression socks and a weighted blanket.
Coupling those changes with a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise and preferring relaxing activities can truly make the difference with RLS.