Home Remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome

Written by Tricia Kinman | Published on March 16, 2015
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on March 16, 2015

Simple lifestyle changes, over-the-counter pain relievers, exercise, and other home remedies can go a long way in helping you alleviate your RLS symptoms.

Overview

Restless leg syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a neurological disorder that affects millions of Americans each year. People who suffer from RLS often have aches, pains, or sensations in the legs when a person is lying down for bed or sitting. With restless leg syndrome, your legs feel like exercising even though the rest of your body and mind are ready for sleep.

Because this happens more often at night or while lying down, RLS can cause you to have trouble falling or staying asleep, which can in turn decrease quality of life.

RLS occurs more in women than men. It can happen at any age, but it affects adults more often, according to the National Institutes of Health

The symptoms of RLS can vary in duration and severity for each person. Some people experience mild symptoms intermittently, while others may have more severe symptoms with each episode. No matter what your pain level is, there are some home remedies that you can try to help you manage your condition.

Lifestyle Changes

It’s not well understood what causes RLS, but researchers do know there is a connection between your lifestyle and how frequently your symptoms occur. There are some lifestyle changes that you can make to help ease your symptoms.

Diet

Eating a healthy diet can help promote good sleep. Limit how much alcohol and caffeine you consume, and be sure to avoid these before bedtime. You can also avoid any foods that you know that might keep you awake at night.

Smoking

Smoking can make the body feel jittery and can have an impact on sleep. Try cutting down on smoking or quitting completely.

Medications

Sometimes medications that you take for other conditions can make it difficult for your muscles to relax or can cause insomnia. Make sure to review the medications you are taking with your doctor and see if any of these are contributing to your condition.

Reduce Pain

The symptoms of RLS can range from irritating to very painful. Try alternating hot and cold compresses on your legs to reduce pain. You can also take a hot bath, or massage your muscles to get them to relax.

Exercise

One of the most effective remedies is preventative: exercise. According to the Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation, people with RLS who exercise daily for 30 to 60 minutes report less fatigue, less symptoms, and better sleep habits.

The exercise doesn’t have to be intense, and you don’t have to overexert yourself. Walking, jogging, or any variety of fitness will help your legs, and will improve your chances of sleeping.

Yoga in particular has shown to have benefits for people with restless leg syndrome. According to research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, women with RLS who practiced yoga experienced less severe symptoms and less stress. They reported better moods and sleep habits.

Sleep Hygiene

RLS can keep you from falling asleep, so it’s important that you do as much as possible to eliminate all the other issues that can keep you from having a good night’s sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night to promote sleep. Having a bedtime routine helps you fall asleep. If you have trouble figuring out what helps you sleep, try keeping a sleep journal to see what works and what doesn’t.

Reduce Stress

Stress often plays a role in agitating RLS, so any treatments that help reduce stress can help alleviate your symptoms. Relaxation techniques, such as breathing and meditation, can help reduce your stress level.

Supplements

While there still needs to be more research on supplements for restless leg syndrome, some studies have shown promise. One study found a connection between vitamin D deficiency and RLS. When supplements were given to participants in the study, the symptoms of restless leg syndrome improved.

RLS has also been associated with low levels of iron or vitamins C and E.

Consult Your Doctor

There are many home therapies and lifestyle changes you can make to help you deal with RLS. Be sure to work closely with your doctor before taking any supplements or making any changes. 

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