Do you know that 1 in every 10 individuals is affected by Restless Leg Syndrome? Restless Leg Syndrome commonly known as RLS is characterized by uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in the legs. The sensations typically occur in the calf area but may be felt anywhere from the thigh to the ankle. It begins when the body is in a relaxed mode like reading, studying or trying to sleep. This has the potential to seriously sabotage the sleep, thereby affecting the quality of life.
But RLS has no cure. It simply needs managing the neurologic symptoms, including pain, burning sensation, twitching, tingling and related unpleasant sensations in the limbs, especially during evening and night time.
But don’t worry, you can follow some simple tips to alleviate this problem such as,
1. Managing a fixed night sleep routine
Going to bed and getting up at a scheduled time, not napping during the day and relaxing before bedtime.
2. Avoiding stimulants in the evening
Caffeine, tobacco, alcohol are known to stimulate the nervous system. This exacerbates RLS in patients, and so, must be avoided, especially during the evening hours.
3. Regular mild exercises during the day
Yoga, walking, aerobic and lower body resistance training are some of the ways to keep the body moving and eventually ease the symptoms.
a) Certain regular medications may trigger the symptoms of RLS, as part of their side effects. These can be discontinued after consulting the medical practitioner.
b) Some of the symptoms arise due to iron deficiency in an individual. This can be confirmed by a ferritin level test and can be cured by taking iron supplements. Nevertheless, before popping any random OTC supplement, it is always advisable to consult the medical practitioner so as to avoid any chances of toxicity related to its overdose, or deficiency.
c) Further, if the problem is pregnancy related, it will go away by the fourth week of delivery, and need not be worried about.
d) In case of acute symptoms, a doctor may prescribe some painkillers or sleep-inducers. Long-term medications, however, may have side effects, including fatigue, dry mouth, weight gain, and even brain fogging, and need to be strictly taken under the guidance of a physician.
5. Ruminating the mind before going to bed
Taking a hot water bath during the evening, applying a hot or cold compression to the leg muscles, deep breathing, mind exercises like puzzles, Sudoku etc. calm the mind, reducing the anxiety.
6. Massaging and stretching the leg
a) It need not be a deep tissue massage of calf muscles. A light rub and touch can even help alleviate the restlessness. Wearing compression stockings for an hour before going to bed may serve the purpose.
b) Stretching the body after long hours of sitting or standing postures helps improve the blood circulation to the legs and other parts of the body.
7. Pumping up your diet
Avoiding allergens, like MSG or gluten present in the diet, might cure some type of autoimmune response in the body, which might be responsible for triggering RLS symptoms. Nevertheless, the body needs a balanced nutrient intake for normal functioning of the body.
It is better to manage RLS at an early stage because the symptoms worsen as the age of a person advances. It does not cause any serious health problem. However, it can interfere with sleep, leading to severe fatigue and related problems.