Your legs feel electric. It feels like worms or bugs are crawling inside your legs, causing an uncomfortable creepy-crawly, tingling sensation. You must move, you absolutely must. You can’t ignore it. It’s impossible. You can’t fall asleep, and you can’t stay asleep. The overwhelming urge to shake or move your legs is uncontrollable.
This is what it feels like to have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). And 7-10% of the US population suffers from it.
RLS can affect any age, race, or gender. This nervous system disorder can start during childhood and worsen with age.
Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome
Unfortunately, what causes RLS remains a mystery. But studies show there may be a genetic component predisposing some to the likelihood of getting it.
RLS can also rear its ugly head in the third trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. The good news here is that it often subsides within a month of giving birth.
Symptoms of RLS
There’s really only one symptom of RLS: the overwhelming urge to move your legs. It may feel like tingling, pins and needles, an electric shock, throbbing, aching, or like something is crawling under your skin. Whatever it feels like to you, it’s definitely unpleasant.
Many people with RLS find it difficult to sit for long periods, which interferes with their social life. Going out to dinner, going to a show or movie - these things are few and far between if you suffer from RLS regularly.
It’s also important to note that while some people experience the symptoms of RLS daily, while plenty of others experience them sporadically. Sometimes, symptoms appear days, weeks, and months apart.
Other characteristics of RLS include:
Restlessness after rest: The unpleasant symptoms of RLS most often occur after you’ve been sitting or lying down for a while. This could include riding in a car or airplane, sitting at a desk, or doing your best to take in a movie.
Worsening symptoms at night: Typically, people experience the symptoms of RLS later in the evening.
Leg-twitching while sleeping: RLS can be extremely disruptive to sleep. People with the disorder often wake up with the urge to move their legs. RLS is also associated with a condition called periodic limb movement, where your legs inadvertently twitch and kick while you sleep.
Sense of relief after moving: Because the symptoms of RLS include causing an overwhelming urge to move your legs, sometimes the only thing that can ease this feeling is by jiggling your legs, stretching, shaking your legs, or walking around.
Treatments to Manage the Symptoms of RLS
While we hate to reiterate it, it’s important to understand that, as of right now, there is no “cure” for restless legs syndrome. But there are ways you can calm those twitchy, burning legs of yours: some natural and some medicinal.
Medications: First of all, it’s essential to get an actual diagnosis of RLS from your doctor, to be sure you aren’t confusing your symptoms with something else. If you choose to go the medication-route, you should understand that most medications proven to help symptoms of RLS were technically designed for RLS. That means you’d be taking meds for some other disease.
Some of these medications include opioids, muscle relaxers, and medications that increase dopamine. Discuss the possible side effects associated with medications before jumping on this bandwagon.
Warm baths and massages: Everyone loves baths and massages. (Well, most people.) Not only are they soothing for your mind and body, but they help relax your muscles. While it might not last, this can help you fall asleep.
Alternate cold and hot: Some people have found relief from RLS symptoms through alternating warm and cold compresses on the leg muscles.
Limit caffeine: Try limiting your caffeine intake, including coffee, tea, soda, and even chocolate. (We know - BOOOO.) Do this for a few weeks to see if there is any difference in how often you experience restless legs syndrome.
Breathing exercises: Try breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of four, breathing out for a count of four, and holding for another count of four before repeating. This is called “square breathing.” There are many breathing exercises you can do that can help relax your mind and your leg muscles. Several people say this helps ease RLS symptoms.
Take your supplements: RLS is linked to iron and magnesium deficiencies. While bulking up on these can help relieve your symptoms, it’s best to get them from natural sources like apples, dates, honey, spinach, avocados, bananas, tofu, and plenty more. But if you can’t stomach those things, you can always turn to over-the-counter supplements. (Ask your doctor first.)
Using a weighted blanket can help relax your muscles, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. This happens through Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS), a gentle pressure all over your body. Weight blankets, especially the high-quality, non-toxic ones like our Original Bamboo weighted blanket, provide DPS through the evenly-distributed proprietary Sensory Sand sewn into the double-stitched pockets.
When you lie under one of our weighted blankets, you’ll feel a sense of calm, not only in your mind but also in your legs. DPS helps your body produce the natural hormones you need to help you feel relaxed and drowsy. DPS helps your serotonin and melatonin levels increase while your cortisol levels drop. This always happens as you fall asleep! DPS just speeds up the process!
Weighted blankets also help you stay asleep longer by delivering that constant gentle pressure. This sends a message to your brain and your typically-twitchy legs that it’s time for rest. Not time to get up and walk around to relieve symptoms.
So many people with RLS suffer the unfortunate side effect of insomnia. But weighted blankets can help relax your body and muscles into getting some of the best sleep you’ve had in years.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to start easing your symptoms of restless legs syndrome with the help of a weighted blanket. And by the way, with our 100-night risk-free trial and free shipping, you have absolutely nothing to lose.