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Managing Sleep With Restless Leg Syndrome

By Paul Rothbart

Restless Leg Syndrome, while not a serious condition, causes problems especially when it interferes with sleep. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says that about 10 percent of Americans are afflicted with RLS. Eighty percent of those people also experience Periodic Limb Movement of Sleep. Commonly called "jittery legs," PLMS causes the legs to twitch as often as every 15 seconds, thus bringing on sleep deprivation. The causes of RLS are largely a mystery and it is not curable, however there are ways to minimize its effect.

Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will put your body into a routine where it knows when to sleep. This can relax all of the muscles and reduce the risk of twitchy legs. Eating at the same time every day means hunger at that time. Sleep works the same way.

Cut Back On Stimulants

Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco can all contribute to RLS. Excessive amounts of any of these substances obviously can cause numerous problems. Add RLS to that list. Eliminating them all together is not necessary, but cutting back, especially in the hours before bed is very effective in minimizing RLS in some people.


Daily exercise such as walking or swimming will let your legs burn off that excess energy, reduce tension and promote relaxation. It doesn't have to be a long, intense workout, just get your legs moving. Stretching in the evening before retiring is also good for calming the leg muscles. Massage is another effective way to prepare for sleep.

Hot and Cold

Soaking in a hot bath right before bed is a great way to relax your body and mind and get those legs settled. If the symptoms start to appear before bed, try a heating pad on the legs. Alternatively, ice packs may work. Try both to find which is most effective for you.

Yoga Anyone?

There are so many benefits to practicing yoga and managing RLS is one of them. It's a form of exercise well worth trying if it appeals to you. Meditation can also be helpful. A calm mind leads to a calm body. 

A good night's sleep is of vital importance to health and well being. Anything that interferes with that requires attention. When RLS causes those leg twitches that don't let you (or your partner) sleep, try these methods and take control of jittery appendages. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Durham, N.C.

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