Remedies for Restless Legs

Restless Legs is a nightmare. The bad part is, you’re definitely not asleep when the “dream” comes. After a long day, you finally crawl into bed, unable to keep your eyes open, dripping with exhaustion, and the minute you lie down, you realize your body is not going to let sleep come. Your body is tired, your mind is ready for sleep; but your legs feel like someone injected them with caffeine and they just want to get up and walk. Or is it jolts of electricity running down your legs? Hard to describe.

Here are 13 remedies I use from time to time, that all seem to work.

  1. Open your hips. I found this remedy by accident. I do lots of yoga, and found that on the night when I did the hip openers, restless legs didn’t bother me. I researched this and found that RLS is directly related to the sciatic nerve. Here’s how you do this simple exercise. Sit on the floor criss-cross applesauce style. If you can’t bring your legs up close, just bring them up as far as you can — it won’t help at all to hurt yourself, nor will it matter if you can’t get your legs up close. Once your legs are in position, try to keep your back straight, put your hands out in front of you, and try to lean forward (straight back.) Babysteps — no need to feel pain, just a nice gentle stretch. The benefit is almost instantaneous — but continue to do this every night. This release is very good for your spine, and will keep your hips open and your sciatic nerve working properly. I do this everyday now, and RLS has not come back for 2 years. Each day, I’m able to bend forward a little further. For beginners, there is a great “hip openers” series on the yoga CD, Yoga Sanctuary: A Guided Hatha Yoga Practice
  2. Compression. Grab a flat tennis ball, and lie on your back. Slide the tennis ball under your hip and find that “sweet-spot” of feel-good, hurts a little, release. Keep it there for 5-10 seconds. Then move the tennis ball down to your calf and find that same sweet-spot. Hold for 5-10 seconds. One time usually kicks out the RLS. But continue until it leaves. This seems to just release that sciatic nerve, and it begins to relax. Shiva Rae has a great relaxation CD, Drops of Nectar: Yoga Relaxation for Rejuvenation and Healing that takes you through this process, step by step. It’s called, the “Secret Ball Society.”
  3. Lie on your stomach with your head to the right so that the weight is heavier over the heart area. Symptoms disappear in about 5 mins.
  4. Drink tonic water. This contains quinine that is helpful for the cramping.
  5. Drink a glass of warm milk and add a teaspoon of cardamom to the glass. This is based on an ancient ayurvedic remedy for restless legs.
  6. Epsom Salts Bath. Dr. Andrew Weil acknowledges that a 500 mg of calcium citrate and 250 to 500 mg of magnesium will calm nerves and muscles.
  7. You can also take a warm bath in Epsom Salts, which are also full of magnesium, to relax the muscles.
  8. The RLS Water Cure. 1. Step in your bath and take a warm/hot shower for 1-2 minutes being sure to spray the entire length of your legs with warm/hot water. 2. Then, switch water temperature fully to cold and spray your lower legs (from the knee down ONLY – shins, calves and feet) for about 30-45 seconds. 3. Step out of the shower and dry yourself and your legs with an upward movement.
  9. Take folic acid supplements. Remember the limits for folic acid are 1000 micrograms for males and 800 micrograms for females
  10. General Massage Oil for Parkinson’s, which also helps for RLS. From The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Worwood:
    Nutmeg 5 drops
    Valerian 2 drops
    Geranium 5 drops
    Rosemary 18 drops
    (diluted in 2 Tbs. vegetable oil)Massage Oil for Muscle Stiffness:
    Marjoram 10 drops
    Basil 5 drops
    Rosemary 10 drops
    Lemon 5 drops
    (dilute in 2 Tbs. of vegetable oil)Bath Oil Formula:
    Orange 5 drops
    Bergamot 5 drops
    Lavender 10 drops
    (blend together and use 4-6 drops in bath)
  11. Skip pain medicines. For some reason, Tylenol, and especially nighttime Tylenol makes my RLS worse.
  12. Add ground whole flax seeds to your diet. (Store this in the freezer.) Sprinkle it on salads, add it to baked goods (substitute 3 tablespoons of flaxseeds to 1 tablespoon of fat in recipes.) Flax seeds are a great omega-3 source, and help to flush impurities out of your system.
  13. Snack on Marmite and toast, followed by a banana. Rich in B Vitamins.
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35 comments to “Remedies for Restless Legs”
  1. So does tonic water with a little gin in it count? 🙂
    By the way. I put a disclaimer up on my post that I did not take all those lovely volcanoe photos. I only took two of them and my camera has no fancy lenses.

  2. LOL…I just read ellen b’s comment. I’ll take some of that gin now, don’t hoard it all for yourself!!

    Okay, to the RLS –this was really a GOOD thing to share, but I’m confused on the very first one. Guess ’cause I don’t do yoga….what do you mean by “open the hips”?

    This is a terrific thing to share!!! You did good.

    My 13 is shared now too.

  3. I’m lucky that I don’t suffer from RLS. Possibly the fat that I always sleep on my front with my head to the right helps. And I have loved Marmite since I was a child!

  4. Great list again Susie! My hubby had this really badly – then was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder (no flaxseeds for him!). He uses epsom salt baths with a little lavender as a detox. It’s really helpful.

    As always, thanks for sharing!

  5. Hootin’ Anni,
    Open the hips, is just another way of saying, spreading your hips bones apart so that they don’t get stiff.

    Sitting Indian-style, or criss-cross applesauce, is a great way to do this. The great thing about this move is that it seems to heal the nerve issues, not just a quick fix.

  6. Great ideas, Susie. I use some of them to combat neuropathy – I have nerve pain/numbness from sjogren’s.

    I get teased for my yoga & epsom salt baths, but I’ve been able to reduce my gabapentin dose. (It makes me sleepy, so I needed to find new solutions…)

    Thank you, thank you.

  7. Lisa, You have the Shiva Rae’s CD, Drops of Nectar, don’t you?

    If you don’t — you need it. She walks you step by step through the secret ball’s society’s relaxation — using a tennis ball.

    She also has the Yoga Nidra relaxation CD that is very, very healing.

  8. Great post! My dad had RLS, but back then it hadn’t been diagnosed and there wasn’t much information available what to do for it. My parents would up sleepin in seperate beds because of RLS.

    Happy TT!

  9. I recommend Epsom salt baths to anyone who suffers from muscle pain. I take them regularly. Compression with a tennis ball and yoga stretches are excellent for sciatic nerve pain.

    great list!

  10. Mine don’t hit when I sleep. The worst is when I would be at the opera. I would want to go crazy. I started carrying a mini bottle of cognac or something like that.

    It helped.

    The Pink Flamingo

  11. SJ Reidhead, I’m LAUGHING! That happened to me once — out of the blue — I went to a small quiet meditation circle at our church — only about 9-10 people — and it started. It was, in a word, awful. Plus, I had a cold at the time, and I kept coughing. I think they were all praying that I’d leave.

  12. Thanks for your remedies. I get this occasionally, usually when I’m very tired, and I had no idea it was a syndrome – I just thought it was something odd that happened to me.

  13. Ooh! This is a TT that will actually hopefully help me. I started getting this in college. It comes and goes, like you said, but it was really bad when I was pregnant. I’m going to work on the exercises right now! Thanks for the helpful info.!

  14. I’ve had it for some time and it s***s big time! I’ll definitely try some of those.
    Thanks for visiting my expensive cities TT!

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  17. Day 3 of no sleep again, 1:00 a.m. and legs won’t stop moving, glad I saw this site I am going to try and do some yoga as well as the tennis ball. Hopefully that will work. Soooo frustrating!

    I will let you know.

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  19. Susie,

    re: Open your hips.

    I don’t think I’m doing this right. What does “criss-cross applesauce” mean? Thanks.

  20. I tend to get RLS when I take PM pain relievers. The tennis ball tip is a godsend. I could feel the difference immediately, my legs were at peace yay

  21. You realize “try to lean forward (straight back.)” makes no sense, right? Are you leaning forwards or backwards? There’s no way to know!

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