Restless Leg Syndrome Naturopathic Health by Dr. Sara Detox Toronto NaturopathRestless Leg Syndrome Naturopathic Health by Dr. Sara Detox Toronto Naturopath
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Could Restless Leg Syndrome Cause Insomnia

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:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • 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
  • itchiness
  • “pins and needles” sensation
  • aching

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.

References:

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Restless-Legs-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17604457

Dr. Sara Celik
Dr. Sara Celik is a Canadian licensed Naturopathic Doctor with 15+ years of experience serving patients in Ontario. She is a sought-after speaker and passionate leader in the Health & Wellness industry carrying a wealth of experience in the field of women's health and fertility.

Dr. Sara has appeared on multiple radio shows/podcasts, the W Network, Breakfast Television and CP24. For almost 5 years, she worked as the National Spokesperson for a well-known digestive wellness brand, educating across the globe on gut health. Dr. Sara has been named a rising star in Canada receiving the Generation Next award for her outstanding contribution to shaping the future of Canada’s grocery industry. She frequently contributes to large publications and has been published in Best Health Magazine, The Globe and Mail, Sweat Equity, Grocery Business, Inside Fitness, Canadian Living, Elevate, HELLO, and ELLE Canada.

Dr. Sara’s approach to healthcare is not as easy as taking a pill. The “quick-fix” approach is not one she subscribes to. While there’s a pill for just about everything, rarely do prescription drugs stop the course of disease - they merely mask symptoms. Dr. Sara believes true health requires a commitment from both the doctor and the patient.

4 Comments

  • Bernadette Cernavez
    at

    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.

  • Dr.Sara Celik
    at

    Thank you for your comment Bernadette and I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Aamir
    at

    Don’t forget that RLS, and insomnia could both be caused by another factor (vitamin D deficiency, for example).

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5886433/

  • Dr. Sara
    at

    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.

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