Hey guys! Kim here, with yet another blog post.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Scenario One: Long day at work. Feet hurt. Back aches. Head feels thick and fuzzy. All you want to do is eat a light supper, and then crawl into bed, and sink into delicious slumber. And you do. Blissfully, in fact. Like your brain and body were just waiting, ever-so patiently for that softness and warmth.
Two hours later you wake up. It isn't pain, so much as it feels like your body can't quite get out of the habit of moving. Your legs feel like the skin is crawling. Your muscles are screaming, wanting movement. You rub your legs. It helps, sort of. You shift about, this way and that. But you just can't find that position of comfort. You've lost it. If you have a spouse, you try not to wake them up in your quest to find relief. So you get out of bed and start walking around. Much better, but that's not conducive to sleep. Unless you're a sleep-walker, but you're not, because you're well aware that you're up and about.
You start boiling some milk, thinking warmed milk might help. It doesn't. You try watching a dull show on television, hoping to lull your mind back to sleep. But your legs won't stop hurting. Tensing the muscles, and then relaxing them, helps. But it needs to be repetitive, rhythmic, like walking.
Finally, after a couple of hours, the pain subsides, and you feel tired, and weak. Exhausted, in fact. Long days of work, and then long nights of muscle aches and pain do not contribute to any sort of relaxation. But your mind is already halfway to your bed, so you make our body follow suit. And within minutes, you're fast asleep. Again.
It happens the next night, and then the night after that. Soon, you realize it's been two months that you've been waking up in the middle of the night with aching legs.
You have Restless Leg Syndrome.
WHAT CAUSES RLS – Restless Leg Syndrome?
The causes of RLS are not known, only speculated. It is most likely due to a mineral deficiency, such as iron, or magnesium. And it's tricky for a doctor to diagnose as most symptoms happen at night, instead of a doctor's office. It can present at first during pregnancy, or be exacerbated by pregnancy. It is more common in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or anemia.1 Other causes can include varicose veins, folate deficiency, magnesium deficiency, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, as well as certain autoimmune diseases.2
Certain medications may cause or worsen RLS, or cause it secondarily, including: antiemetics (anti-nausea), antihistamines, many antidepressants, antipsychotics, certain anticonvulsants. RLS can also be brought on by withdrawing from medications like benzodiazepines, or sleeping pills. Alcohol withdrawal can also cause this type of pain in the legs.2
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?
Or: How do I get to sleep again?!?
The first thing I would suggest trying is lifestyle modifications.
Epsom salt baths can also help with mild restless leg syndrome. Usually taken in the evening, after a day of work. Pour 2 cups of epsom salts in a tub of hot water, and soak in it for about twenty minutes.
Stretching can also help relieve muscle soreness. Stretching the calf muscles, and the quad muscles helps too.
Other lifestyle choices include the cessation of smoking, and the avoidance of alcohol, and caffeine.3
Sleep is a beautiful, powerful regenerator. We need sleep, and we need more than couple of hours here there, not marked by periods of wakefulness prompted by pain.
Iron supplements can help alleviate these twitching muscle pains.
Magnesium Bisglycinate can also help with Restless Leg Syndrome, as it helps fill a magnesium deficiency brought on by a deficient in our food. Dosage is dependent upon the individual's need for magnesium bisglycinate. This dosage can range from 200mg and up. Usually taken before bed. No worries on overdosing on magnesium: it is a water-soluble mineral. Taking too much magnesium usually manifests in loose stools. If you find your bowel movements are too loose, simply cut back on the magnesium. Or you can take it in divided doses in the morning, and at night, also depending on when your Restless Legs Syndrome generally affects your living. For most it's at night, when they've stopped moving their legs.
It's never a good thing to be woken up from a nice, comfy sleep by pain, or the undeniable need to keep your legs moving.
Scenario Two: Long day at work. Feet hurt. Back aches. Head feels thick and fuzzy. All you want to do is eat a light supper, and then crawl into bed, and sink into delicious slumber. And you do. Blissfully, in fact. Like your brain and body were just waiting, ever-so patiently for that softness and warmth.
Seven hours later you wake up. No pain. Your legs feels soft and rested, your muscles quietly waking up. You rub your legs. It feels good. You shift about, this way and that, trying to get out of bed without waking up your slumbering spouse, or the rest of the household. (Old squeaky bed needs replacing, you mentally note.) But you just can't do it; spouse is too sensitive. They wake up with you. Oh dear. So you get out of bed and head to the bathroom. Spouse starts frying up the bacon. You're not sleepwalking. You're awake, and rested, and you don't feel like you've run a marathon during the night. And, you have bacon. Life is good again.
Come and talk with one of us if your sleeping is being interrupted by Restless Legs.
1. 5 Signs You May Have Restless Legs Syndrome. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2017, from http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20532457,00.html
2. Restless legs syndrome. (2017, February 27). Retrieved March 13, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restless_legs_syndrome#Cause
3. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/restless-leg-syndrome/treatment.html