Who would think that Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) would be given its own spot on the calendar as Restless Syndrome Month? Well, July has been given that honor!

So what is RLS? RLS, also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, affects approximately 15% percent of the American population. A person with this condition experiences aches, pains and other leg sensations when lying down or sitting quietly—the individual often feels as though they need to move their legs even though they are at rest. Unfortunately, this can disrupt or prevent sleep, creating insomnia in the affected person.

According to The National Institute of Health, RLS tends to occur more in women than men, can happen an any age, but typically affects adults and its severity and duration varies from person to person—the symptoms of RLS can also be intermittent in nature.

The cause of RLS is still not clear, but there are various lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the symptoms. These include:

  1. Watch the Diet- reduce intake of caffeine, chocolate, tea and alcohol, especially before bedtime.
  2. Stop Smoking- besides the other known dangers of smoking, smoking can cause jitters, heightening the symptoms of RLS.
  3. Check Your Medications- the side effects from some medications can cause muscles to not relax during the time when you want to rest. Check with your doctor for an alternative medication. Try taking vitamins or supplements—they have shown to be helpful with RLS.
  4. Rest and Exercise- Be sure to exercise, stretch and try to stick as much as possible to a regular sleep regimen. Doing a brisk daily walk or moderate exercise is good for your legs. In addition, try avoid sitting in one position for too long. It's important to get up and move around frequently during the day. Yoga is yet another beneficial way to get in that much needed stretch!
  5. Temperature/Massage Remedies- Try applying a moist heat pack or therapy wrap to ease the aches, pains and discomfort of your muscles. When alternating these 2 remedies, some people find that the symptoms are less severe. Also, consider soaking in a warm bath or whirlpool.

Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any supplements or exercise regimen. Home therapies and lifestyle changes can help you to deal with RLS.

Sources: Healthline.com, National Institute of Health

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