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Is Restless Leg Syndrome Affecting Your Ability to Cope at Work?

Updated on September 29, 2016
SMD2012 profile image

I'm a business communications coach who teaches writing, speaking, and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

This article is for people who have already been diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and are intimately aware of the symptoms associated with RLS.

Restless Leg Syndrome, the urge to move your legs when you'd rather sit still or fall asleep, can be mildly irritating or absolutely agonizing. It can disrupt your sleep, making it hard to perform well at your job. If Restless Leg Syndrome is having a negative impact on your work life, learn more about how to ease your RLS symptoms so that you can function normally on the job.

How do I get rid of this strange feeling in my legs? I can't sleep!

Restless leg syndrome can keep you awake all night. But there are many things besides counting sheep that can help you fall asleep faster.
Restless leg syndrome can keep you awake all night. But there are many things besides counting sheep that can help you fall asleep faster.

Please note that this article was not written to help people self-diagnose their symptoms and/or determine an underlying cause of their RLS. It is only intended to provide a way to explore some natural and/or non-prescription treatments that have helped me cope with my Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with RLS yet by a medical professional or you do not know the underlying cause of your twitching leg sensations, you may want to visit the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation and talk to your family physician about your concerns.

The good news is that Restless Leg Syndrome is a recognized medical condition and most physicians and medical professionals are equipped to assess your symptoms, address underlying medical conditions, and recommend therapeutic interventions such as prescription medications, vitamin supplements, or changes to your diet and exercise routines. In any case, you do not need to suffer alone. Seek support and guidance from your doctor and take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

As the sun begins to set, that's your cue to start slowly winding down before bedtime.
As the sun begins to set, that's your cue to start slowly winding down before bedtime.

How often do you experience RLS?

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What do you do when RLS is keeping you awake at night? This article highlights some of the things that I find are helpful in settling my twitching, kicking feet and knees and getting the sleep I need each night to function properly during the day so that I can enjoy a satisfying quality of life. Some of these methods discussed in the article I discovered myself, while others I found online or in books I borrowed from my local library.

1. Don’t overexert yourself during the day. Enjoy some light to moderate walking on a daily basis instead of doing intense workouts on a less frequent basis (i.e.; instead of working out intensely every other day, try to get some exercise every day). I find that overexerting myself during the day sets me up for a night of endless leg kicking and twitching.

2. Eliminate chocolate and caffeine from your diet. It may seem hard to eliminate caffeine from your diet when you are coping with Restless Leg Syndrome. If you can’t drink coffee, how else are you going to make it through the day after staying up all night kicking your legs? It may take some time getting used to drinking less caffeine and at first you may not feel the payoff right away. But in time, your body will learn how to function without soda pop and coffee.

3. Don’t go to bed feeling either too full or too hungry. I find that eating a small bowl of granola with sliced banana and yogurt before bed takes the edge of my RLS and helps me fall asleep faster.

4. Have a warm bath with Epsom salts. Instead of sitting or lying quietly in the bath, wiggle your legs around in the water to increase the absorption of the soothing bath salts while gently fatiguing your legs so that you can rest in bed.

5. Put a few drops of lavender essential oil on a handkerchief and lay it near your pillow. Lavender essential oil is a popular home remedy for stress relief and relaxation.

6. Take care of any body aches and pains in your legs, arms, neck, or back with an over the counter analgesic. Pain can keep you up at night and amplify any feelings of discomfort and twitchiness you feel in your legs.

7. Distract your legs with interesting sensations. I find that rubbing icy-hot cream on my knees seems to counteract and override the creepy crawling feelings that make me want to twitch my legs.

8. Do some mild stretches before bed. Sometimes doing 10-15 stationary squats for a count of 5 seconds helps relax my legs.

9. Rest in the fetal position. I find that lying on my stomach with two pillows stuffed under my chest and abdomen, and then pulling my knees up under me, helps me wrangle my restless legs into a comfortable position.

10. Keep track of the lunar calendar. Full moons seem to wreak havoc on my RLS symptoms. Perhaps it is the gravitational pull or the inescapable moonlight that filters through the windows at night. By keeping track of when the full moons are set to occur, I can take extra care in making sure that I follow some sleep inducing rituals before heading to bed.

Try not to dread going to bed. Accept that you may not be able to avert your RLS symptoms each and every night. Trust that your body will eventually do what it needs to do to fall asleep. It may not fit in with your ideal schedule, but when left to its own devices, your mind and body will eventually shut down and let you fall asleep. After all, your legs, brain, arms, and heart are all part of the same being trying to get you through life as smoothly as possible.

A clean, uncluttered bedroom is conducive to a good night's sleep.
A clean, uncluttered bedroom is conducive to a good night's sleep.

A well-spent day brings happy sleep.

— Leonardo da Vinci

Disclaimer: This article discusses diet, exercise, and medication that has worked for me in relieving my RLS symptoms, but these tips may not be suitable for you or your situation. Always check with a doctor, pharmacist, nutritionist, or other health professional before making any significant changes to your normal heath maintenance routine.

If you have experience with RLS, please feel free to leave a comment.

Please use your own common sense and prudent judgement when coping with your own RLS symptoms. Seek the guidance of a medical professional if your symptoms become unmanageable.

If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.

— Dale Carnegie

© 2012 Sally Hayes

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  • profile image

    bigmeteor 3 years ago

    Inflammation is believed to be a key factor when it comes to Restless Legs Syndrome. A new study was published in the January 14, 2012 issue of "Sleep Medicine Review Journal" that supports this theory.

    Do a Google search for "Restless Legs" and "Inflammation" and you'll get some helpful information on how to rid yourself of the problem.

  • Emma Harvey profile image

    Emma Harvey 4 years ago from Berkshire, UK

    This is useful - my husband suffers from similar symptoms but hasn't been diagnosed. He has had restless legs on and off for many years so I have read this article to him. He doesn't have caffeine or chocolate, but does do intense workouts a few times a week which may need to be monitored.

    Thanks - voting up and useful!

  • point2make profile image

    point2make 4 years ago

    I have had RLS for several years. I control the symptoms with diet and exercise. This seems to quiet the episodes down somewhat but I still have those "nights" every few weeks or so. I enjoyed your hub. Very informative and some great ideas.....thanks. voted up.

  • GoodLady profile image

    Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

    How useful. I have a lot of pain in my legs and some of your advice would help this pain - for example doing a few mild stretches and the perfume of lavender oil near me. Lovely and so helpful. Thank you. Voting.

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

    This Hub was very interesting. I've never been bothered with RLS, thank goodness.

    I voted this UP, etc.

  • TravelAbout profile image

    Katheryn 4 years ago from United States

    SMD2012

    I'm so happy I ran across this hub. I was diagnosed with RLS a few years ago. I was given clonazapam to take to help when I it is really bad. Unfortunately, this makes me feel groggy during the day and I don't like that feeling. I use it very infrequently but sometimes just have no choice. I will have to see if my "bad" episodes coincide with the moon! I wanted to add that I find lying on a heating pad positioned in the lower mid section of my back helps reduce the restlessness. I guess I'll also give meditation a try too :)

    Voted up thanks for sharing.

  • nikkiraeink profile image

    nikkiraeink 4 years ago from So. Cal.

    Great tips! My husband has RLS and always wakes me up with it. I'll have to share this with him so we both get a better nights sleep.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Excellent. I have known five people in my meditation sangha that totally cured the syndrome. Was not why they came but they were all overjoyed -- I assume they were on some meds also.

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