When I was pregnant with my first child I had my first bout of restless legs. I felt like a marionette puppet whose strings were being pulled and had no choice but to move. This condition was devilishly frustrating as it only bothered me when I lay down to sleep for the night, and as anyone with restless legs knows, this made it nearly impossible to go to sleep. I would lie awake with my bulging belly for hours upon hours desperately trying to drift of to dreamland only to to have one my my “strings” yanked every 10 seconds. This happened night after night, with precious few nights of reprieve in between. I referred to this condition as “jumpy legs” and had no idea that others suffered a similar form of self-torture at bedtime.
I did soon discover that about 10% of people suffer from restless legs and that this nervous system disorder is officially referred to as Restless Leg Syndrome, or RSL. Some describe it as an itchy feeling, while others refer to it as a pins and needles sensation or the feeling of having ants crawling on their skin. However you describe it, it isn’t pleasant. Since it usually interrupts sleep it is also considered a sleep disorder. The cause, however, is unknown and there is no cure. Some experts believe the syndrome is related to abnormal iron uptake by the brain.
While you can take some hardcore drugs to mask symptoms, there are numerous other strategies that can be employed first that will not have nasty potential side-effects or require a trip to the doctor. If you are pregnant, you most definitely should try non-drug options. All of these strategies I discovered on my own in a half-maniacal attempt to relieve my symptoms so I could just get to sleep. They can be employed individually or in any combination that works for you.
1. Hot (as hot as you can tolerate) shower right before bed. Scrub legs vigorously with shower brush. Towel dry and jump into bed.
2. Leg lunges at bedtime. I would do about 30 lunges on each leg, alternating from one to the other. This had the side benefit of adding some lovely tone to my thighs.
3. Hyland’s homeopathic Restful Legs remedy for RLS. Inexpensive, gentle and non-addictive, these little tablets could work miracles by calming my jumpy legs within minutes. I have noticed however that over the years this remedy has become less effective for me. I do give these tablets to my daughters when they get jumpy legs at bedtime and they work beautifully.
4. My most recent discovery that works wonders – any menthol cream or ointment. I have used Tiger Balm, Vics Vapor Rub and IcyHot Pain Relieving Cream. I rub a generous amount of the menthol cream/ointment on my legs and jump into bed. Relief is immediate and within minutes I am joyfully asleep – no counting sheep required! The only downside of this method is that the menthol has a very strong smell that is long-lasting and anything but romantic!
I hope one or more of these simple home-remedies can help you or a family member with jumpy legs! If you have had success with other home remedies please share in the comment section below. Or if you try one of the above methods let us know the results. However, you approach the jumpy legs in your life, I wish you many nights of quick and blissful sleep!