People with Restless Legs Syndrome experience an overwhelming need to move their legs, particularly at night or as they fall asleep.
An estimated 10%-15% of adults in the UK experience Restless Legs Syndrome, with it typically affecting more women than men. Importantly, the number of people presenting with this disorder appears to be increasing. Symptoms include tingling, crawling, aching, pulling, or painful sensations that can only be relieved by moving the affected leg(s).
Over 80% of people who have Restless Legs Syndrome also have another condition called Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep which causes involuntary jerking or twitching movements in the legs during sleep. The limb movements can occur every 20 to 40 seconds for a few minutes or a few hours at a time, leading to disrupted sleep, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue for both the person and his or her bed partner.
Treating Restless Legs Syndrome
1. Iron and Multi-Mineral Supplementation
Whilst the exact cause of Restless Legs Syndrome is unclear, the research suggests that one of the primary causes is a deficient level of iron and certain essential minerals. As such, if you suffer with Restless Legs Syndrome, the absolute first approach to implement is to target your iron and mineral levels. Aim to consume plentiful amounts of food each day that are high in iron, B vitamins and folate. Try foods such as liver, spinach, all dark leafy green vegetables, beans, organic grass-fed beef and lamb, fish, tofu, nuts and seeds. We also recommend supplementing with a top quality, non-constipating iron supplement to ensure you are obtaining adequate levels of iron intake on a daily basis. It is also an excellent idea to start supplementing with a top range, optimally formulated multi-vitamin than includes magnesium, zinc, vitamin C and full spectrum B vitamins. Doing so will ensure that low level mineral/vitamin deficiencies are not implicated in the Restless Legs Syndrome symptoms. If symptoms continue after 6-8 weeks of implementing these changes, we recommend organising to see your GP to get your iron levels checked.
2. Warm Epson Salt Baths
Epson Salts provide excellent anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties that have been used for decades in the management of muscle spasms, twitches, cramps and Restless Legs Syndrome. To benefit from Epson Salt baths, we recommend soaking the entire body in warm water containing one to two cups of Epsom Salt for at least 20 minutes. A half-cup of Epsom Salt can also be added to a large bowl of warm water for a 20-minute lower leg and foot bath. Not only does the salt help soothe the legs, but the heat of the water also relaxes muscles and has positive effects on Restless Legs Syndrome pain or tingling.
3. Self Massage with Essential Oils
Every evening before bed, add 5 drops of rosemary essential oil and 5 drops of lavender essential oil to 20ml of sesame oil and massage this into the feet and legs for 5-10 minutes. This is a powerful way of relaxing the muscles in the legs, reducing spasms and cramps and alleviating any pain. It can also help induce deeper sleep.
In our experience, over 70% of people with Restless Legs Syndrome report a clinically significant improvement in symptoms by implementing the above approaches. However, if the symptoms do not begin to improve within 6-8 weeks, please organise to see your GP to rule out any underlying health problems that may be responsible for your symptoms.