Do you experience persistent sensations in your legs that keep you awake even though the rest of your body is ready to fall deep into sleep? Have other people told you that it’s all in your head?
Rest assured (no pun intended), this strange set of opposing states should not be dismissed as psychosomatic. You may have Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder affecting an estimated 12 million Americans.
Unpleasant sensations like throbbing, pulling, and creeping and an uncontrollable urge to move your legs are hallmark symptoms of the disorder. They are more prominent at night when a person is relaxing or at rest.
RLS affects people of all ages, and usually the condition worsens with age. Women appear to be more prone to RLS than men.
The exact cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown. However, it has been associated with pregnancy, obesity, smoking, iron deficiency and anemia, nerve disease, diabetes, kidney failure, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Prescription medication may help treat the problem, but you can also keep symptoms at bay with home remedies that can calm your legs and help you get a good night’s sleep.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for restless legs syndrome or RLS. The length of time needed for these remedies to work vary depending upon the severity of your symptoms.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an alkaline food that can help balance pH levels in the body as well as improve absorption of nutrients. Hence, apple cider vinegar is used for treating RLS.
- Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of lukewarm water. Sip it slowly about half an hour before going to bed. Do this daily. If you cannot bear the taste, apple cider vinegar tablets are an option, but it’s a good idea to ask your doctor before starting a supplement regimen.
- Alternatively, gently rub a small amount of apple cider vinegar on your legs before going to bed each night.
2. Hot and Cold Foot Soaks
Alternating use of warm and cold soaks for your leg muscles can help reduce cramping and ease pain associated with RLS. The heat promotes blood circulation, while the cold reduces inflammation.
- Fill one bucket with cold water and another with bearable hot water.
- Put your feet in the hot water for three minutes.
- Then dip them in cold water for 10 to 60 seconds.
- Repeat two or three times.
- Follow this remedy twice daily for effective results.
3. Black Strap Molasses
Black strap molasses is rich in iron, which is believed to treat the various symptoms of restless legs syndrome.
An integral component of hemoglobin, iron helps transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body’s cells. Iron is also needed for energy and metabolism.
It also contains other minerals like calcium and potassium. You can find black strap molasses at most health or natural food stores.
- Stir one tablespoon of black strap molasses into one cup of water.
- Drink the solution half an hour before going to bed.
- Do this daily for best results.
You can also drink a combination of one tablespoon each of black strap molasses and apple cider vinegar mixed in a cup of water.
4. Epsom Salt
An Epsom salt bath right before going to bed can help you sleep better through the night. The high amount of magnesium sulfate present in Epsom salt helps soothe sore muscles and calm the nerves.
- Pour one cup of Epsom salt into warm bath water. Stir it with your hand to help the salt dissolve in the water.
- Soak in the bath for at least 30 minutes.
- Do this daily.
5. Tonic Water
Tonic water is a carbonated soft drink containing quinine, a compound that can help settle the nervous system and provide relief from various symptoms of restless legs syndrome. It acts as a muscle relaxant and improves blood flow to the muscles.
Large doses of quinine can cause negative side effects, but with only about 20 mg of quinine per eight ounces of tonic water, it is safe to use.
Drink one-fourth cup of tonic water before going to bed each night. Sip it slowly so the body has time to absorb the quinine.
Camphor has therapeutic and antispasmodic properties that help relieve inflammation and alleviate RLS symptoms.
- Gently rub a small amount of camphor oil on your legs before going to bed. Within minutes, the tingling sensation in your legs will go away. Do this daily.
- You can use camphor cream in the same way.
7. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has been reported to be an effective treatment for restless leg syndrome. It can help improve blood circulation and relax the nerves to help you sleep soundly at night.
- Slightly warm some coconut oil and then rub it all over your legs.
- Massage your legs in circular motions, moving upward from the ankles.
- Do this daily to relax your muscles.
You can also use warm mustard oil in the same manner.
Chamomile is an herb that acts like a mild sedative to relax the nerves and muscles. Regular use will promote sound sleep.
- Enjoy a warm cup of chamomile tea to relieve tension and stress in the nerves and muscles. Drink it one to two hours before bedtime.
- Alternatively, massage your legs with chamomile oil for a few minutes before going to bed.
Peppermint has high menthol content that can help numb the restless feelings in your legs and provide soothing pain relief for aching muscles.
- Drink a cup of peppermint tea before going to bed to relax the muscles and promote restful sleep. In fact, three to four cups of peppermint tea in a day is considered healthy.
- Alternatively, apply peppermint oil directly on the legs and then gently massage your legs for five to 10 minutes. This will help relieve tension.
10. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is used as a relaxant and hence it can help reduce symptoms of RLS. The aromatic scent of the oil has a calming effect that will help you sleep better.
- Simply rub a few drops of lavender oil on the bottom of each foot before getting into bed each night.
- Alternatively, add a few drops of lavender oil to a small tub of lukewarm water. Soak your feet in this water for 10 minutes before going to bed each night.
You may need to try a few remedies to determine which works best for you. Also, lifestyle improvements such as regular exercise and limiting caffeine, smoking, and alcohol can help reduce RLS symptoms.