Following a restless leg syndrome diagnosis, you may be confused about what treatment is right for you. In addition to medications that your doctor may have prescribed, there are also ways to help improve your symptoms at home.
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In addition to following the advice of your doctor, the following at-home treatments may help you as well:
Walk. Walking around may be the only thing that helps. A midnight stroll through the house may calm your legs enough to keep them still when you go back to bed. Also, be sure to stay physically active by working out several times a week.
Check out your caffeine consumption. Coffee, tea, chocolate, sodas, and even over-the-counter (OTC) medications may contain caffeine. Try cutting your consumption of caffeine-containing foods and medications (or substituting decaffeinated varieties) to see if your condition improves. Avoid tobacco, which contains the stimulant nicotine, and alcohol, which can have its own detrimental effects on sleep, as well.
Modify your medication. Some OTC medications, such as certain cold medications and allergy pills, contain mild stimulants that can result in jittery legs. Ask your pharmacist if any medications you are taking contain stimulants and whether there are any nonstimulating alternatives.
Take a bath. A warm bath or massage before bed relaxes muscles and therefore may be helpful.
Change your temperature. Sometimes, a change from hot to cold, or cold to hot, can do the trick. Try putting a heating pad or hot pack on your legs for a short while. If that doesn’t work, drape a cool towel over your legs, or dip your feet in cool water.
Make sure you’re eating well. There are some indications that a deficiency in iron, folate, or magnesium may contribute to restless legs syndrome. By eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods, you should get the vitamins and minerals you need. However, your doctor may recommend supplements of these specific nutrients.
Make a bedtime habit. Get into a regular routine that will help your mind and body settle down and prepare for bed.
Soothe your stress. Stress may not be the cause of restless legs syndrome, but it can exacerbate it. Try to eliminate some of the stress in your life. Regular exercise and some form of relaxation technique, whether yoga, meditation, visualization, or even an engaging hobby may help you “de-stress.” Also, be sure to get a full night’s sleep.
Stretch your legs. Try stretching your calves, hamstrings, and gluteal (butt) muscles before bed.
Wear socks to bed. Some experts have found that a lot of people who suffer from restless legs syndrome also seem to have cold feet. Although nobody has studied the connection, it might not hurt to bundle up your tootsies for the night.
See your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, if they become worse, or if they significantly interfere with your sleep and daily functioning.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Restless Legs Syndrome center for more articles and tips.