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.
8 Stretching and Movement Tips to Ease Restless Legs
- Get moving at lunchtime: Take your sandwich with you for a walk to the park or around the block.
- Give your circulation -- and you -- an afternoon boost; jog in place for a few minutes.
- Work out the kinks at work: Take a 5-minute break every hour -- get up, stretch, walk around.
- Do your body a favor and ease RLS symptoms -- start and end your day by stretching your legs.
- Road trip? Whether passenger or driver, stay alert and loose. Stop often for a good stretch.
- Ease mind and body -- and restless legs -- with a gentle leg massage.
- Jetting off on a business trip? Request an aisle seat when you fly. Then give your circulation a boost by getting up frequently.
- 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
- On a conference call? Watching TV? Use that time to give your legs a gentle massage.
- Unwind with a hot bath. It relaxes body and soul -- and for some it soothes RLS symptoms, too.
- Chill out: Ice packs may calm those restless legs.
- Are you getting enough iron? Iron deficiency is one cause of RLS. Talk to your doctor.
- Bottoms up? Go easy on the alcohol. It can make RLS symptoms worse.
- Ease symptoms -- and get a better night's sleep -- avoid heavy meals close to bedtime.
- Relaxation techniques, such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation, may reduce RLS symptoms.
- 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
- Regular, moderate exercise may help you sleep better. Take a walk with the kids, the dog, or a friend.
- Warm up to bedtime. A heating pad may soothe away symptoms of restless legs.
- Take it easy! Moderate workouts can relieve RLS symptoms, but excessive exercise may cause them to spike.
- Sleep a little better tonight by avoiding nicotine and caffeine close to bedtime.
- You'll sleep better, and feel better, if you maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Get a better night's sleep; avoid alcohol close to bedtime.
- Avoid napping during the day for better sleep at night.
- Count sheep, daydream, or just close your eyes -- but whatever you do, try not to make bedtime worry time.
Published March 7, 2007.