As many as 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from restless leg syndrome (RLS), the irresistible urge to move the legs that strikes particularly at night when a person is trying to rest. Treatments include prescription drugs and non-prescription remedies, but these lifestyle changes may provide relief, too.
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Regular exercise. A study from Pennsylvania State and East Tennessee State University researchers suggests that regular moderate exercise reduced the severity of RLS symptoms by an average of 40 percent. Most experts suggest 30 to 60 minutes of daily activity that involves the legs, including aerobic exercise like walking, running and cycling as well as strength training. Vigorous exercise, though, could actually worsen symptoms, as can workouts within one hour of bedtime, according to the Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation.
Limiting—or eliminating—caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, and alcohol, a depressant, both disrupt sleep even in people without RLS, and are reported to cause an increase in RLS symptoms.
Taking supplements. Low iron levels and anemia are often associated with RLS. (Talk to your doctor about whether you need supplements.) Also, correcting deficiencies in magnesium and folate could also help, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke.
Standing up more. Increasing activity during the day—apart from formal workouts—can reduce restlessness and jitters.
Pampering yourself. Regular massage—even self-massage—and stretching have helped some sufferers. In addition, a warm bath or shower before bedtime, or a heating pad can help counteract the tingling sensations of RLS.