A few years ago I first heard about restless leg syndrome and just couldn’t imagine it was a real phenomena. An urge to move your legs at night because it feels like something is crawling up them, they ache or feel pulled? That would constantly make a person wake up! Indeed, it does... and restless leg syndrome is one of those things that scientists just don’t know much about, which makes it really tough to treat. However, there are a few key things you can do (this list is compiled from a mix of the research and what my dietitians colleagues, with decades of combined experience, have uncovered from working with their clients):
1. Avoid emotionally upsetting events. Or rather, learn coping skills since life can throw you a curveball sometimes.
2. Get a good bed. After all, your sleep will improve no matter what if you have a good mattress, sleep in a room cool in
temperature with no lights (cover up those bright red displays on TVs, clocks etc. and turn your phone off or put something
over it so it doesn’t light up incessantly).
3. Get your storage form of iron, your ferritin, checked (this is a must, don’t settle for only having your hemoglobin and
hematocrit checked). Iron deficiency anemia can cause restless leg syndrome. Your ferritin levels will likely need to be
above the lower limit (12 ng/mL) to alleviate your RLS symptoms. A ferritin level above 50 ng/mL is necessary.
4. Consider a nighttime calcium/magnesium supplement to help you sleep.
5. Relax before bedtime, avoid any stimulants (caffeine, nicotine) and of course, avoid alcohol.
For more information restless leg syndrome, check out this blog.