By Jo Joiner

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is the unwelcome night-time dance partner that nobody asked for. You’re all snuggled up in bed, ready for some sweet dreams, when suddenly your legs decide it’s time for a midnight tango. Your sheets become the dance floor, and you’re left tossing and turning in a desperate attempt to find some peace. But fear not, my sleep-deprived friends, because today we’re going to uncover the secrets of how to fix restless legs at night and help you find a more peaceful sleep.

What is restless leg syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder characterised by an irresistible urge to move your legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations such as tingling, itching or a crawling feeling. These symptoms typically worsen during periods of inactivity or rest, especially in the evening and night-time, making it challenging for affected individuals to relax and sleep. While the exact cause of RLS is not fully understood, it can significantly mess up your sleep life.

What causes restless leg syndrome?

This neurological disorder is like a riddle wrapped in a puzzle, tucked inside an enigma. While it’s not entirely clear what causes RLS, there are some key factors at play:

  • Genetics: Sometimes, RLS runs in families. If your parents or grandparents were night-time wrigglers, you might be at a higher risk.
  • Iron deficiency: Low levels of iron in the brain can trigger RLS symptoms.
  • Dopamine dysregulation: The brain’s neurotransmitters, including dopamine, play a role in RLS. An imbalance can lead to those relentless leg urges.
  • Pregnancy and medications: RLS can also be triggered or worsened by pregnancy and certain medications.

How to fix restless legs

1. Smarten up your sleep environment

Creating a sleep-friendly environment is crucial for managing RLS. Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Invest in a new Dreamland pocket-spring mattress and fresh pillows to maximise your comfort. Establish a consistent sleep schedule to regulate your body’s internal clock.

2. Embrace the power of movement

It might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to stop your legs from moving is to move them. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can significantly reduce RLS symptoms. Activities like walking, biking, pilates and yoga can work wonders. Just be sure not to overdo it, as excessive exercise might make the problem worse.

3. Stretch it out

Speaking of movement, stretching is a fantastic tool in your RLS-fighting arsenal. Gentle stretching exercises for your legs before bedtime can relax your muscles and help ward off those pesky sensations. Try calf stretches, hamstring stretches and ankle circles to soothe your restless legs.

4. Amp up your iron

If you suspect an iron deficiency is contributing to your RLS, it’s time to pump up your iron intake. Incorporate foods like red meat, poultry, fish and legumes into your diet. Consult your healthcare provider about iron supplements if necessary.

5. Eliminate triggers

Consider cutting back on caffeine during the day and alcohol at night. Try herbal teas, like camomile, rooibos and peppermint.

6. Relaxation techniques

Stress and anxiety can make RLS symptoms worse. Combat these sleep disruptors with relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation. Check out guided meditations on Spotify.

7. Massage magic

Gently massaging your legs before bedtime can help relax your muscles and alleviate RLS symptoms. You can do it yourself or enlist the help of a willing partner. A foam roller is useful for self-massage.

9. Leg elevation

Here’s a simple trick that could work wonders. Elevating your legs for a while before bedtime might help reduce RLS symptoms. Prop them up with pillows or blankets while you read or watch TV, and see if it makes a difference.

10. Medication solutions

If nothing seems to be working, talk to your doctor about medication to manage RLS symptoms. Medications like dopamine agonists or alpha-2-delta ligands can help regulate neurotransmitters and provide relief.

With a little persistence and experimentation, you can be on your way to RLS-free nights and the quality sleep you’ve been dreaming of.  If you’ve decided that a new bed will be part of your fix, check out our article about choosing a new mattress.

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