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.

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 04, 2008
3 min read

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.

  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.

  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.

  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.