Why do we get restless legs at night and how do we stop it?

Last Updated: NOV 26, 2022
When you have restless legs, you feel uncomfortable in your legs and have an irresistible urge to move them. Usually, it occurs when someone has been inactive for a prolonged period of time, such as on a plane, watching a long movie or while laying in bed.
Restless Legs Syndrome
If you wake up in the middle of the night, it can become harder to fall asleep or return to sleep. Pregnant women are also known to suffer from it.
Some studies ref classify this as a "neurological sensory disorder" characterised by symptoms produced in the brain itself.
What is the real cause of restless legs syndrome?
At this point, it's not entirely clear what the cause is, except for genetic connections and lower Iron levels in the brain.
What do we know?
In order to prevent and manage restless leg syndrome, we need to be aware of when it tends to flare up. Most people get restless legs syndrome when:
  1. An iron deficiency is present
  2. Pregnant (especially during the third trimester)
  3. When taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, cold and flu medications, and antihistamines
  4. Using alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine
  5. As a result of sleep challenges such as sleep apnea
What can I do to help stop restless legs syndrome?
  • Check your iron levels. A simple blood test can determine if you are deficient in iron
  • Consider your lifestyle and whether what you eat, drink, or smoke might be contributing to RLS
  • Use magnesium sprays or supplements. Magnesium has been claimed to help with RLS in many studies, while others dispute the claim, but the mineral has many other benefits so it's worth trying
  • Establish a healthy sleep habit and create an environment that promotes good sleep
  • Exercise. Aerobic exercise and resistance training have been shown to significantly decrease restless legs syndrome ref
  • Massage. Getting a full body massage or using a body massager at home has been said to relieve restless leg for many people all over the world
  • Use a Relaxis Pad. While this does not directly relieve RLS, it may help you relax before bedtime, which may be a solution.
It is currently being investigated whether cannabinoids can treat sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome, but the results have not yet been conclusive.

It is not our intent to provide medical advice and are only attempting to provide a general overview of the subject. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult your doctor.