You know that feeling when you’re not ready to get up yet the dreaded alarm clock forces you to.
That feeling when the sun is beaming right into your eyes and you feel like you just fell asleep an hour ago.
Welcome to the world of insomnia. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.
Besides causing fatigue, insomnia can lead to a long list of health problems such as:
- cardiovascular disease
- weight gain
- poor gut health
- weakened immunity
The underlying cause of insomnia varies.
Some individuals have a hyperactive mind that is difficult to shut off, while others suffer from a more serious condition that is rarely talked about – Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).
RLS affects over 10% of the population.
It is more common in pregnant women, those with iron-deficiency, and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The disorder affects the nervous system and as a result, leads to a sudden urge to move the legs, especially at night.
Other symptoms experienced in the legs include:
- burning sensation
- “pins and needles” sensation
People with the condition often describe an intense restlessness in their legs, a crawling sensation on their skin or an urge to get out of bed and start moving.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke lists 4 criteria for diagnosing RLS:
- Symptoms that are worse at night and are absent in the morning;
- A strong and often overwhelming need or urge to move the affected limb(s). This is often associated with paresthesias (burning or prickling sensation) or dysesthesias (unpleasant, abnormal sensation);
- Sensory symptoms that are triggered by rest, relaxation or sleep;
- Sensory symptoms that are relieved with movement so the relief persists as long as the movement continues.
Although the vast majority of restless leg syndrome cases occur at night, many individuals suffer from RLS during the day, particularly after prolonged periods of sitting or inactivity.
The main treatment for RLS is dopaminergic agents along with sleep medications.
These drugs have been prescribed since the 1980s. Although they offer some relief, they also come with side effects, such as headaches, drowsiness, and hallucinations.
To avoid side effects, many people prefer a natural, less-invasive treatment approach.
Please consult your Naturopathic Doctor (ND) before using any of the supplements suggested below.
- folic acid (400 mcg)
- iron (30 mg)
- B12 (1000 mcg)
- vitamin C (500 mg)
- vitamin E (400 IU)
- magnesium (250 mg)
Also, I encourage you to avoid stimulants because they can have a negative effect on the body. Almost all stimulants worsen symptoms such as burning, itching, and tingling.
Replace caffeinated beverages with valerian root tea, skullcap tea or passionflower tea.
Finally, it’s best to avoid alcohol and tobacco which appear to aggravate the condition.
This condition can be very debilitating – affecting sleep, mood, and stress levels.
Although it is a lifelong condition with no cure, naturopathic treatments can help control the disorder, reduce symptoms, and improve quality of life.
Like your article on RLS. I spend nights getting up and have to get a frozen bean bag for relief of my feet & legs and finally get some sleep.
Thank you for your comment Bernadette and I’m glad you enjoyed the article!
Don’t forget that RLS, and insomnia could both be caused by another factor (vitamin D deficiency, for example).
Great share Aamir! Vitamin D deficiency is very common and could also be associated with RLS. It’s important to get tested and take a supplement if deficient. Unfortunately, most Canadians are deficient. Thank you for posting a link to the abstract.