The first step in managing restless legs syndrome is to improve sleep habits—what specialists usually call sleep hygiene. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can all make RLS worse and should be avoided or limited, including caffeine-containing foods such as chocolate.
Movement. An intrinsic part of restless legs is the urge to move the limbs. Fighting this urge only makes it worse; when you want to move, move. If standing is more comfortable during the day, a higher desk can be used to allow you to stand while working. Some desks can be adjusted to different heights.
Communication. Explaining RLS to your family and coworkers may help them understand why you feel the need to pace or stand.
Exercise. Moderate exercise may help relieve the symptoms. However, heavy exercise can make the symptoms worse. Massaging the legs may help the feeling go away.
Temperature. Taking a hot bath or putting a heating pad on the uncomfortable limbs may help. An ice pack could also help or alternating between cold and heat.
Relaxation. Stress may make restless legs syndrome worse; techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, in which each muscle group is tensed and relaxed in turn, may improve the symptoms.
The first step in managing a sleep disorder is good sleep hygiene, or practicing good sleep habits. Here are some sleep hygiene tips to improve the quality of your sleep:
Last reviewed on 10/05/2006
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