I was hit with Restless Leg Syndrome a few years ago, and let me tell you this: the name once sounded silly to me, but when I discovered how torturous it can be to experience symptoms associated with RLS and live with them, I wasn’t laughing very long. As a communicator, even I couldn’t find words to describe the urges and sensations that hit me every evening.
Days were fine. No problem. But with sundown came relentless episodes of leg discomfort and they persisted throughout the evening when I was exhausted and desperately in need of winding down so I could sleep. But from the day I first noticed the uncontrollable urge to move my legs until I finally recovered, my life-and the sleep I relied on to keep me going-was a nightmare.
Call my doctor? I felt silly and embarrassed. I thought my antsy legs were my imagination since I was asymptomatic during the day. And so the nightly “dance of the legs” droned on. Can you imagine dreading the end of day? I did.
Finally, I tired of hearing myself whine and welcomed the date of my annual doctor’s checkup. I was no longer too embarrassed to add “crazy legs” to my list of health concerns. She diagnosed Restless Leg Syndrome immediately-but she did so reluctantly, because she knows that I’m no fan of medicines.
Nevertheless, she offered me the prescription I turned down and in return, I promised I’d do my own (pun intended) leg work to see if I couldn’t find a way to combat RLS that didn’t involve pharmaceuticals.
Once I had a name for my nightly dance-a-thon, I launched my investigation and immediately learned that anecdotal evidence suggests having more sex can relieve RLS symptoms as a direct result of orgasm-related dopamine releases. I also found out that some people find RLS relief by putting a bar of Ivory soap underneath their bottom bed sheets! Right.
Sex and soap notwithstanding, I kept searching for less controversial fixes and found holistic nirvana. By drinking more water daily, stopping sugar and caffeine by noon, practicing deep-breathing techniques and undertaking what Best Health Magazine calls “progressive muscle relaxation techniques” (tense leg muscles, hold and relax), my crazy leg episodes began to subside. They didn’t disappear overnight but after about six months, they were gone.
Many people turn to prescriptions to treat RLS and I don’t fault them for taking popular drugs like Mirapex, Requip, Xanax and Klonopin, but if anyone asks my advice (and many have), I urge them to be patient and try my methods first. They usually protest until I say, “What have you got to lose? You risk nothing and you can always get a prescription if my suggestions don’t work for you.” That tends to end the conversation!