Restless leg syndrome can cause the irresistible urge to move your legs and keep them moving when you are still to alleviate a throbbing or prickling sensation in the legs and affects up to 15% of adults in the U.S., according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Prescription medication for restless leg syndrome tends to be very expensive and come with side effects like weight gain, dry mouth, and fatigue. Therefore, many experts recommend starting with safe restless leg syndrome home remedies as an alternative way to manage your RLS symptoms and help you get a good night’s sleep.
Here are some of the most effective folk remedies that can relieve the urge to move.
Magnesium supplements are a popular home remedy for restless leg syndrome. Some cases of RLS appear to be linked to mineral deficiencies. Several scientific studies have found that taking magnesium in particular can improve restless leg syndrome, but much of the evidence supporting magnesium is anectodal. Magnesium supplements are a good place to start because magnesium is unlikely to cause side effects beyond an upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea in some people.
- B vitamin complex or multivitamin with magnesium or magnesium citrate powder
- Natural Magnesium sources like:
- dried fruit,
- leafy greens,
- dark chocolate.
It’s important to take magnesium with vitamin B6, which determines how much magnesium your body can absorb.
Magnesium can be taken in many forms, including a powder with water or a pill. Men should take 400 mg of magnesium, while women should take about 310 mg per day. Take magnesium before bed for best results.
It’s believed that one-quarter of people with RLS have low iron levels, possibly because RLS comes from a deficiency of the dopamine neurotransmitter. Your body needs iron to make dopamine, which regulates smoothness of body movements.
Iron therapy, even in people who don’t suffer from anemia, has been one of the most common home remedies for restless leg syndrome since the 1950s and has been found to improve symptoms in almost 50% of people.
- Iron supplements
- Vitamin C supplements
- Foods high in iron
Take 20-30 mg of iron every other day on an empty stomach about two hours before you eat. Try taking iron with vitamin C, which improves your body’s ability to absorb the mineral.
Taking iron supplements every other day can reduce stomach upset. You can gradually increase your iron intake to no more than 65 mg up to three times per day. You can also eat iron-rich foods like dark green vegetables, dark chocolate, nuts, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ. Dark chocolate is a great bedtime snack for RLS because it contains two RLS-fighting ingredients: iron and magnesium.
Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you’re struggling to sleep, but research shows that exercise can be a very effective home remedy for restless leg syndrome. A workout releases endorphins and increases dopamine levels.
Stretching your muscles can also relax your body and mind. In a 12-week study, people reported improvements in RLS symptoms after 3 sessions of aerobic exercise and resistance training per week.
A separate study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found Iyengar yoga is especially helpful in reducing RLS symptoms. Best of all, restless leg syndrome home remedies that involve exercise and yoga have no risk of side effects — but it can improve other areas of your life as well.
- Workout or yoga video (if desired)
- Resistance bands
Try practicing yoga, stretching, and light aerobic exercise early in the day. Some people find that exercising too close to bedtime worsens RLS symptoms.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E can be one of the most helpful and safe restless leg syndrome home remedies, especially when combined with magnesium. This vitamin alone can improve RLS symptoms with a recommended dose of 400 to 800 IU per day. Be aware that vitamin E can slightly increase blood pressure so discuss it with your doctor if you have hypertension.
- Vitamin E supplements
- Foods high in vitamin E
Take between 400 and 800 IU of vitamin E per day. Vitamin E is fat soluble so supplements are absorbed best with food. You can also snack on foods high in vitamin E like almonds, almond milk, raw seeds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and avocado.
Massage isn’t just relaxing; it can be therapeutic. According to a 2007 study, massage or bodywork twice a week focusing on the lower legs improved symptoms like tingling, the urge the move, and insomnia.
It turns out that massage is one of the most effective restless leg syndrome home remedies; about one-third of people experienced complete relief of RLS symptoms and others reported at least some improvement.
- Foam roller (for self massage)
Deep tissue massage isn’t necessary for relief. Many people report even light rubbing helps. Ask a partner to massage your legs before bed or use a foam roller to stimulate the nerves in your legs.
7. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Looking for restless leg syndrome home remedies that don’t require anything you don’t already have? Progressive muscle relaxation is an easy exercise you can practice in bed to calm your mind and body. One study found that progressive muscle relaxation dramatically reduces RLS severity and it’s one of the top recommended home remedies for restless leg syndrome by experts.
After you lay down, breathe deeply for several minutes. Tense the muscles in your feet, hold the tension for several seconds, then relax. Next, move to tensing your calf muscles for several seconds and relaxing. Move on to your though muscles and continue up your body to your face and neck muscles. When you’re done, your entire body should feel relaxed.
Restless leg syndrome may be associated with hypoglycemia. Adopting a high-protein, low-sugar diet can help. For more immediate relief, one of the most popular restless leg home remedies is eat a high protein snack at night. Protein snacks like turkey, peanut butter, and cheese can help reduce cramping at night.
- High protein, low fat snacks like cheese or peanut butter
Eat a protein snack with less than 150 calories within one hour of bed to help reduce RLS symptoms.
Homeopathic doctors often recommend Causticum as a home remedy for restless leg syndrome. Causticum can improve cramps, aching, and burning in the legs as people who are low in Causticum often tend toward chronic problems with muscle weakness, cramps, and tendon issues.
- Causticum at a 12C dilution
Take Causticum at night before bed for best results.
9. Folic Acid
While most people experience RLS symptoms at night, some people experience restless leg syndrome during the day. The best restless leg syndrome home remedies for daytime symptoms can be different. Folic acid, the synthetic form of a water-soluble B vitamin, has been shown to reduce RLS symptoms and it may play some role in familiar RLS.
Try supplementing with 800 mg of folic acid three times per day. This remedy seems to work best for people who have RLS with stabbing pain. Most people have no side effects from folic acid supplements, although high doses can cause cramps, nausea, and other side effects.
- Folic acid supplements
- Foods high in folic acid such as dark green vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, and spinach), citrus fruit, peas, and avocado, which also contains Vitamin E.
Take 800 mg of folic acid up to three times a day on an empty stomach for ideal absorption. It can also be taken with food if it upsets your stomach. Another option is snacking on foods high in folic acid.
10. Tarentula Hispanica
Tarentula hispanica is one of several homeopathic restless leg syndrome remedies that may help. This home remedy is recommended for people who are excessively restless, impatient, and overstimulated and it may help with the numbness and jerking of RLS. This homeopathic remedy is made from Wolf Spider, a type of tarantula that has long roots in homeopathic medicine.
- Tarentula hispanica in a 12C dilution
Take tarentula hispanica before bed for best results.
11. Herbs for Sleep
Taking theanine and wild lettuce at bedtime are effective restless leg syndrome home remedies if you suffer from RLS symptoms at night. Both herbs have been shown to help with sleep and may also improve restless leg syndrome. Theanine works to raise gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) levels while wild lettuce boosts endorphins. Both neurotransmitters have been found to improve RLS symptoms.
It’s important to note that one of the prescription drugs for RLS (gabapentin enacarbil) is metabolized into GABA so theanine should work in a similar way although it is not an addictive narcotic. You can usually find these herbs in combination with other sleep herbs in supplement formulas.
- Supplement with wild lettuce and theanine (Revitalizing Sleep Formula by Enzymatic Therapy is one example)
Take your chosen supplement according to the instructions. Theanine and wild lettuce supplements are usually taken about 30-60 minutes before bedtime with water.
12. Temperature Change
For some people, combating RLS symptoms is as straightforward as changing the temperature. Perhaps the easiest of all restless leg syndrome home remedies is alternating between applying a heating pad or hot pack and draping a cool towel over your legs. You may also find it helpful to simply take a warm bath before bed to relax your muscles.
- Heating pad
- Cool damp towel or cool water (for a foot bath)
Experiment to find what works best for you. Some people find heat most effective while others get more relief by alternating between cool and hot for about 30 minutes before bed.
Restless leg syndrome can wreak havoc on your life and make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. The good news is restless leg syndrome home remedies can make a difference and help reduce your RLS symptoms, but sometimes it may take some experimentation to find which home remedies for restless leg syndrome work best for you.
Have any restless leg syndrome home remedies worked to help you? Please share your experience below!