Dealing with restless legs syndrome (RLS) can be incredibly frustrating, and all you want is to tumble into bed and get the sleep you so desperately need. You’re not alone — between 7% and 10% of the population in the United States struggles with RLS.
As medical researchers work to better understand this condition, vascular expert Dr. Ariel Soffer and the team here at Soffer Health Institute have been able to help our RLS patients find peaceful sleep using a few different approaches.
Here, we explore three of these approaches.
1. Replenish certain micronutrients
One of the recognized factors that contributes to RLS is iron-deficiency anemia. If you have restless legs syndrome, one of our first steps is to perform a complete evaluation of your health, which includes testing your blood for iron levels. If we find that these levels are low, we typically recommend iron supplements.
There’s also some evidence that taking magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin B complex supplements can help improve your RLS symptoms if you’re deficient in these micronutrients.
2. Manage your daily movements
It might seem logical that if you exhaust your body during the day through exercise, it follows that you’ll sleep soundly. In some cases, the exact opposite is true, and your symptoms are even worse at night.
That said, if you’re not active at all, you may encounter an increase in your RLS symptoms.
The best approach is to strike a balance — a good amount of exercise (about 30-60 minutes a day) is highly beneficial and will help you sleep better, but we don’t advise exercising to the point where your muscles are achy or sore.
We also recommend that you institute a nightly stretching regimen to relax the muscles in your legs. To get you started, here are a few great yoga stretches that can help relieve the symptoms of RLS.
3. Make lifestyle changes
There are several lifestyle changes that can go a long way toward relieving RLS, starting with stress management. If you’re under a good deal of stress, it can trigger your RLS, so we recommend that you find ways to relax before bedtime — a good book or a warm bath are usually effective. You should also avoid anything that leads to stress, namely turning off your electronic devices well before you want to sleep.
Smoking can also exacerbate RLS, so we urge you to use this as another excuse for quitting.
When it comes to caffeine, the effects can vary from one person to the next. Some people with RLS report that caffeine worsens the condition while others find it improves their symptoms. We suggest that you explore your caffeine intake to determine whether it has any influence over your RLS.
Finally, you’d do well to avoid alcohol in the evenings, as it can disrupt your sleep.
If you want more ideas for managing your RLS symptoms or you’d like to be tested for micronutrient deficiencies, please contact one our offices in Weston, or Aventura, Florida, to set up an appointment.