Affecting approximately one in ten adults, restless leg syndrome is a nervous system problem that can cause sufferers to feel a tingling and itching sensation in their legs, arms or head, making them want to constantly move in order to shake off this feeling. The symptoms appear mainly at night and, as a result, this disruption in sleep can have consequences on weight, concentration and even heart health. Although anyone can be affected by RLS it is hereditary and is most commonly seen in pregnant women and women over the age of 40. Nutritionist Sarah Flower, offers some advice on how you can help to ease the symptoms of RLS.
Let Magnesium lead the way. This is vital to help relax the muscles and therefore aid a more relaxed and restful sleep. Increase the magnesium in your diet by consuming green leafy vegetables, yoghurt, nuts, and dark chocolate. If you don’t think you’re getting enough magnesium why not try consuming in supplement form, I recommend New Era 8, which is ideal to take throughout the day in addition to a magnesium citrate supplement. New Era 8 is a melt in the mouth tissue salt made from Magnesium phosphate, helping to keep you calm during times of anxiety and stress so ideal to keep at your desk or handbag, available from www.powerhealth.co.uk
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Staying hydrated can help prevent restless leg syndrome and leg cramp. When the body is dehydrated it won’t work at its optimum level and this can lead to worsened RLS symptoms. It is also particularly important when in warmer climates as you will be more susceptible to dehydration, try to avoid diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol.
Don’t disrupt your sleep. In order to get a good night’s sleep, the body has to convert serotonin into melatonin. This process is triggered by darkness which helps induce and maintain sleep, this can be disrupted by the computer and TV screen glare, which is why it is recommended not to use electrical devices in the bedroom for at least 1 hour before retiring. Research has also shown that exposure to noise and light during sleep can suppress the immune system as well as disrupt natural sleep patterns.
Keep your Cool. Body temperature should drop prior to sleep and rise again as we wake, so maintaining a cooler room will help to keep a cooler body temperature; vital for a good night’s sleep. Create a light breeze in the bedroom by opening a window or door to allow the air to flow and opt to wear loose clothing in bed, which can help to ensure a better night’s sleep.
Get Nutrient-Rich. Ensure you are consuming a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, full of B-vitamins, especially folic acid, as well as omega 3, Iron, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. Fill up on foods that help the melatonin cycle and aid sleep, such as foods rich in Tryptophan, found in turkey, fish, nuts, seeds and bananas. B vitamins are essential for the production of serotonin and melatonin, especially B1, B3 and B6 and Omega 3 fish oils, such as those found in salmon and mackerel are known to both relieve stress and anxiety and to regulate inflammation.
Keep Calm and Carry On. Stress, anxiety and depression happens to all of us at some time in our adult life and are the most common mental disorders in the UK. Long-term stress and anxiety can cause the adrenal glands to become exhausted, leading to adrenal fatigue, which increases symptoms of fatigue, lack of concentration, mood swings, weight issues, fear, depression, muscle aches, cravings, memory loss, anxiety and insomnia.
Watch your medications. Some medications can make the symptoms of RLS worse for some patients, such as antidepressants, SSRI’s, Tricyclic medications, Antacids. Some medications, such as antihistamines and cold & flu remedies, can even contribute to RLS. If you are concerned, speak to your doctor. Do not stop any medication without your GP’s approval.
Don’t forget to exercise. It does not have to be frantic exercise, even a simple walk has shown to help, especially if you walk a few hours before sleeping. Stretching exercises can also help a lot. Some people have found relief with Yoga or Pilates to help stretch the muscles but also to help relax, destress and calm the mind.