Restless leg syndrome is a sleep disorder that affects a person’s legs — often at night or while sleeping. Typically, the person feels pain or twitching in their legs that is often described as stinging like “pins and needles” and is alleviated by moving legs back and forth.
For the estimated 10 percent of the U.S. population that deals with restless leg syndrome, which also is known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, there is hope.
Read on to get our top 10 natural home remedies for alleviating the pain and discomfort caused by RLS:
1. Get into Your Zen Space
Many people who struggle with the pain of restless leg syndrome have found peace and relief by trying to distract their minds from the pain. Remember, RLS is a neurological disorder that affects your nerves and the brain.
So if you can focus your brain on something else via meditation, prayer or deep breathing, you can experience some relief. The key with this natural home remedy is to allow your body to relax so that oxygen can flow you and you can allow your body to naturally release stress.
2. Massage Your Legs
A self-massage is a great way to help relax your pained muscles. Bend over to your legs and use both of your hands to grasp your calves and press in, working your way up and down your legs.
This helps to increase blood circulation, which will also help to alleviate pain because your nerves and veins will be getting more blood and oxygen.
3. Take a Hot Bath
A hot bath helps to relax your entire body and to de-stress you emotionally. People with RLS can experience some anxiety as they think about whether the pain is ever going to end.
Instead of letting the mind wander, slip into a hot bath, close your eyes and unwind. Let your entire body feel the warmth and decompress.
4. Alternate Between Hot and Cold Compresses
Although a hot bath can help to relax your leg muscles, the alternation between a hot and cold compress can help to zap pain in your legs as well. Make a hot compress using a towel you dip in hot water and ring out carefully. Place over your legs until they are cool.
About 30 minutes later, try a cold compress by filling a plastic bag with ice cubes and taping a dry towel over it. Allow the cold compress to sit on your legs no more than 10 minutes. The cold compress shocks the nerves and helps to numb your legs from pain temporarily.
Alternate this method to see what works for your pain levels.
5. Increase Your Vitamin Intake
Infuse your diet with more foods that are rich in Vitamin D, C and E. Now, you’re going to want to consult your doctor before taking on a new vitamin regime because over-saturating your body with vitamins can have an adverse effect.
Examples of foods you can eat that are rich in Vitamin D include tuna, fatty fish like salmon, oranges, egg yolks, and cheese. Vitamin C-rich foods include oranges, citrus fruits, strawberries, kale, and Brussel sprouts.
Foods rich in Vitamin E include avocado, almonds, spinach, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. Prepare your menu based upon these vitamin-rich foods.
One way to think about incorporating these items into your next meal could be to follow this meal plan:
- Breakfast: Make a smoothie with kale, spinach, strawberries, and oranges
- Lunch: Prepare a salad with kale, sweet potatoes, almonds, avocado, and your favorite citrus fruits
- Dinner: Grill salmon with a side of roasted Brussel sprouts and butternut squash.
How easy and healthy is that to get your vitamins in that could help to control pain and make your body more susceptible to fighting off the pain?
6. Do Leg Exercises to Strengthen
Add a few simple leg exercises to your routine to help strengthen your legs. Exercise also can release endorphins, which are the “happy chemical” that we all need to feel good.
That’s why, for example, researchers recommend exercising as much as they do anti-depressants for patients experiencing clinical depression.
There are several leg exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home to help get your legs moving and your heart rate up. Some of the most common are to do alternating leg lifts, scissor kicks, and squats.
Work a few of these into your regular routine, and not only see your legs get stronger but distract your mind from the pain of your legs and feel better overall.
7. Make Mindfulness a Part of Your Daily Routine
Similar to praying or meditating, a mindfulness exercise that you make part of your daily routine actually can help you de-stress and focus. One common one you can try whenever your legs are hurting is to do a body scan mindfulness exercise.
Start by closing your eyes and focusing on your head. Then, mentally move through your body — to your forehead, your eyebrows, your eyes, your eyelashes, and all the way to your toes.
Don’t leave any part out and be very intentional with the smallest of details. As you work your way through your body scan, your mind will be focusing on the body part and less on the pain. It’s a cool trick that can work wonders.
8. Increase Pleasure
Research has shown that opiates can help to reduce the pain associated with restless leg syndrome. And, research also has concluded, as evidenced in the previous section, that endorphins can work miracles on the brain. Therefore, the more pleasure your body is experiencing, the less pain you may notice.
This is why researchers recommend that people with restless leg syndrome participate in activities that make them happy — such as, as one report recommends, having sex.
Whatever your pleasurable activity ends up being is up to you. The point is that you try to increase pleasure in order to overrule pain or to distract your mind from the pain.
As an exercise, try to add one pleasurable activity to your life every day. It can be something that you look forward to and it can be your go-to activity when your legs begin feeling pained. Have fun with this tip and see whether it can take you!
9. Add a Bar of Soap
In a bizarre twist of home remedies, add a bar of natural, oil-infused soap to your bed every night. Research has concluded (but not with certainty about the cause) that patients who put a bar of soap under their sheets near or under their legs experience less pain with their restless leg syndrome.
Some doctors think this may have something to do with the aromatherapy that can relax a person as it emanates from the soap bar or it may have something to do with the oils that are released from the soap bar throughout the night as the person is sleeping.
Whatever the reason may be, it works for some patients, and it’s easy enough to do that you literally could do it before you go to bed tonight!
10. Make Bedtime a Ritual
Because restless leg syndrome often worsens during the night and even wakes up people who have it, it’s important to try to get a good night’s sleep. When you are sleepy enough, you may just sleep through the discomfort.
That’s really the goal with a bedtime ritual. This can be different for everyone, but the basic premise is that you begin winding down at a certain time every night and preparing your body for sleep.
That might mean taking a hot bath or shower, drinking some natural sleep-inducing tea, giving yourself a facial, turning down your phone, and turning off the TV.
Do the things that help you to relax and experience peace before you go to bed — and your body will begin adapting to this ritual and preparing for sleep.
Are You Ready to Manage Your Restless Leg Syndrome?
Because restless leg syndrome is a life-long condition and a neurological disorder that is connected to the brain, there isn’t currently a cure. That doesn’t mean you have to live under the doom of a diagnosis.
There are things you can do to help manage your RLS pain and to have a happy and active life. Your doctor can help you figure out the best treatment plan — which most likely will include many of these helpful 10 remedies.
Sometimes RLS can be minimized by a change in medication or by boosting your iron. Talk with your doctor about the options for managing your RLS.
Did you try any of these 10 home remedies for restless leg syndrome? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Which remedy worked the best for you?