RLS Sleep Disorder
Anyone who has to endure RLS or restless leg syndrome will soon start to long for a good night's sleep, which can seem very elusive if you have the discomfort and even painful symptoms of sensations in the legs and the constant urge to move them to gain relief. These symptoms are usually worse at night when you most need your rest and sleep.
This restless sleep disorder has no cure but there are ways to treat the condition and if you have it while you are pregnant, it is usually temporary.
Less severe RLS can usually be eased with good home care which we will cover later in this article.
More severe symptoms will probably need medical attention.
See your doctor for a definite diagnosis and discuss whether medication is an option while investigating any side effects especially when used long term. Such medications have actually been developed for other conditions so their use for treating the symptoms of RLS have come about almost as an after thought. While one medication may be helpful to some, it may be detrimental when used by others. In addition, these medications can lose their effect over time. Prescription medications include:
• Hypertensive drugs for high blood pressure which can be effective in combating RLS.
• Dopaminergic agents used to treat Parkinson’s disease but which can increase the brain chemical dopamine that regulates muscle movements.
• Benzodiazepines are sleep medications, or central nervous system depressants, but they can also suppress muscle contractions. The downside is that they can cause daytime sleepiness.
• Non-benzodiazepine sedatives which are actually sleeping pills.
• Opiates such as Darvon or the stronger Percodan which are pain-killers and relaxants that can suppress RLS in some sufferers but they can be addictive and should only be used in low dosages.
• Anticonvulsants such as Gabapentin or Neurontin are used to prevent seizures. They will also reduce muscle contractions in some RLS sufferers.
As you can see, none of these pharmaceutical medications are ideal and along with caffeine and alcohol, some drugs and medications are even thought to cause the condition in the first place - including: H2-histamine blockers (such as ranitidine and cimetidine) and certain antidepressants like amitriptyline.
A more natural way of dealing with severe RLS symptoms is by using a portable, bedside TENS unit. With this, you can apply electrical stimulation to the feet and legs for 15 to 30 minutes at bedtime to reduce those night time sensations.
For milder symptoms these home care suggestions including a natural essential oils treatment from Healing Natural Oils – H-Restless Legs - can be very helpful.
During the day:
- Take regular exercise to relieve the RLS symptoms.
- Wrap your legs in ace bandages or wear compression stockings.
- If you have low iron levels, take iron supplements to balance this deficiency.
- Some exercise before bed or stretch the legs, do knee bends or rotate your ankles.
- Take time to relax by trying meditation, yoga or just deep breathing.
- Apply heat or cold. Suggestions include taking a bath, soaking your feet in hot or cool water, using a heating pad or hot water bottle or perhaps a cold compress.
- Lying on your side with a pillow between the knees.
Although it is often easier said than done, learning to manage the symptoms of RLS can bring relief and of course sleep.