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Tips for Restless Legs Syndrome Relief

Do you itch to move your legs at night or at work? Try these 24 tips for lifestyle relief.
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WebMD Feature

Do you have aching, creeping, crawling, or prickling sensations in your legs when you lie down or sit still? Those are the classic symptoms of a common disorder called restless legs syndrome.

An estimated 5% to 15% of adults have restless legs syndrome (RLS), and up to 19% of pregnant women develop RLS symptoms during pregnancy. Restless legs syndrome does not cause serious health problems, but can interfere with sleep and lead to severe fatigue. Here are tips for a symptom-free lifestyle.

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8 Stretching and Movement Tips to Ease Restless Legs

  1. Get moving at lunchtime: Take your sandwich with you for a walk to the park or around the block.
  2. Give your circulation -- and you -- an afternoon boost; jog in place for a few minutes.
  3. Work out the kinks at work: Take a 5-minute break every hour -- get up, stretch, walk around.
  4. Do your body a favor and ease RLS symptoms -- start and end your day by stretching your legs.
  5. Road trip? Whether passenger or driver, stay alert and loose. Stop often for a good stretch.
  6. Ease mind and body -- and restless legs -- with a gentle leg massage.
  7. Jetting off on a business trip? Request an aisle seat when you fly. Then give your circulation a boost by getting up frequently.
  8. Got the 3 o'clock slump? Skip the coffee, get up and do leg stretches for 5 minutes.

8 Lifestyle Tips to Ease Restless Legs Syndrome

  1. On a conference call? Watching TV? Use that time to give your legs a gentle massage.
  2. Unwind with a hot bath. It relaxes body and soul -- and for some it soothes RLS symptoms, too.
  3. Chill out: Ice packs may calm those restless legs.
  4. Are you getting enough iron? Iron deficiency is one cause of RLS. Talk to your doctor.
  5. Bottoms up? Go easy on the alcohol. It can make RLS symptoms worse.
  6. Ease symptoms -- and get a better night's sleep -- avoid heavy meals close to bedtime.
  7. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation, may reduce RLS symptoms.
  8. Certain drugs can cause RLS. Take medications, including herbal remedies, only as directed by your doctor.

8 Nighttime and Sleep Tips to Ease Restless Legs Syndrome

  1. Regular, moderate exercise may help you sleep better. Take a walk with the kids, the dog, or a friend.
  2. Warm up to bedtime. A heating pad may soothe away symptoms of restless legs.
  3. Take it easy! Moderate workouts can relieve RLS symptoms, but excessive exercise may cause them to spike.
  4. Sleep a little better tonight by avoiding nicotine and caffeine close to bedtime.
  5. You'll sleep better, and feel better, if you maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  6. Get a better night's sleep; avoid alcohol close to bedtime.
  7. Avoid napping during the day for better sleep at night.
  8. Count sheep, daydream, or just close your eyes -- but whatever you do, try not to make bedtime worry time.

Published March 7, 2007.

Reviewed on June 04, 2008

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You say you are able to function well with fewer than seven hours of sleep. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get too little sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia or other conditions affecting your sleep.

Sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get too little sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have difficulty sleeping, have insomnia, or have other sleep disorders.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

It's good that you usually do get more sleep, since sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. And if you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

You say you are able to function well with fewer than seven hours of sleep. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

It's good that you usually do get more sleep because sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. And if you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get less sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have difficulty sleeping or have insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Whether your sleep routine involves taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating, it's important to keep your bedtime and routine consistent every night and wake up around the same time every morning.

Click here to read more about the importance of sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and wake time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Since you usually sleep this amount, if you often aren't feeling your best, you should consider talking to your doctor. Could you have an underlying condition? Are you feeling anxious or depressed? Have you taken medication that disrupted your sleep? Do you or could you have sleep apnea? Or do you naturally require a little bit more sleep?

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can also have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and wake time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Since you usually sleep longer, if you often aren't feeling your best, you should consider talking to your doctor. Could you have an underlying condition? Are you feeling anxious or depressed? Have you taken medication that disrupted your sleep? Do you or could you have sleep apnea? Or do you naturally require a little bit more sleep?

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can also have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Whether your sleep routine involves taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating, it's also important to keep bedtime consistent and wake up around the same time every morning.

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and waking up at the same time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health.

Since you usually get less sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia, another sleep disorder, or conditions affecting your sleep.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health.

Since you usually get less sleep, talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia or another sleep disorder or conditions affecting your sleep.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Effect of short sleep duration on daily activities--United States, 2005-2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2011; 60:239.

Carskadon, MA, Dement, WC. Normal Human Sleep: An Overview. In: Principles and Practices of Sleep Medicine, Fifth, Kryger, MH, Roth, et al. (Eds), Elsevier Saunders, St. Louis, MO 2011. p.16.

Harvard University: "Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety."

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