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Can’t Keep Still At Night? Sleep Easy with These Natural Methods
Do you find yourself tossing, turning, and jittery at night? Restless Leg Syndrome could be the issue. If you can't sleep at night, try employing these helpful natural sleep tricks to promote healthy sleep.
Do you ever get that feeling at night where you just can’t sleep and feel the need to shift, toss, turn, and move? Do your legs feel prickly and jumpy at night?
You could have restless legs syndrome- which is a real medical condition that harms a person’s sleep cycle and can lead to other health risks, like an increased risk for heart disease and a lowered immune system.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that affects millions of people each year. According to the National Institute of Health, up to 10 percent of American adults suffer from some form of RLS, either temporarily or on a more permanent basis.
According to The National Institute of Health, there are no known causes that directly lead to RLS. More research is needed to identify the precise cause of RLS. For now, research has indicated that a variety of contributing factors can lead to the condition. These factors include:
Some research has indicated that RLS is linked with a dopamine imbalance. Low dopamine levels natural coincide with the most active RLS period (in the evening). Disruption of the dopamine pathway leads to involuntary movements, such as Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome. However, no research has indicated that RLS will lead to Parkinson’s disease or any other health problem later in life.
You can blame your family if you have trouble with restless legs. In fact, many researchers estimate that up to 75 percent of people who suffer from restless legs have a family member who also suffers from RLS. Heredity is usually blamed for cases that occur before the age of 40, when other factors are unlikely.
There is a clear link between vitamin and mineral consumption and RLS. In fact, several studies have liked RLS patients to chronically low levels of vitamin deficiency. Supplementation with the missing vitamins usually leads to a resolution of the problem. RLS is sometimes linked specifically with anemia, but that is not always the case. Common vitamins and minerals linked to RLS include vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to your health. In fact, Web MD reports that several studies have linked poor sleep habits to other health problems, such as an increased risk of catching colds and the flu, and an increased risk for bigger problems, like heart disease. If you want to protect your health, it is essential that you stop RLS symptoms and sleep efficiently. You can do this in a variety of ways, outlined below:
How can herbal supplements fight RLS and promote sleep? Studies have shown that many people with RLS are deficient in certain vitamins or minerals. However, experts are not sure if RLS sufferers are less able to metabolize vitamins, or if they simply need more than an average person. Whatever the reason, the following vitamins and supplements have been scientifically proven to help reduce RLS severity, duration, and frequency.
Iron: In 2003, the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center at the RLS Foundation looked at the brain tissue of 7 RLS patients compared with brain tissue from non-RLS patients. The researchers found there was no difference between the brain issues, but the study did show that RLS brains had lower iron levels. In fact, the substantia nigra of the RLS patients had fewer iron receptors in the brain. This study indicated that RLS sufferers may have a harder time absorbing vital nutrients, due to the lack of receptors in the brain. Increasing your iron intake is a clear way to help reduce RLS symptoms.
Magnesium: The role of magnesium in the human body has only recently come to light. Magnesium is a mineral that is crucial for essential bodily functions- including controlling involuntary movements. A 1998 study conducted by Albert-Ludwigs-University gave 10 RLS patients a supplement of 12.4 mmol for a period of 6 weeks. At the end of the study, patients reported fewer waking events during sleep and improved sleep efficiency.
Folate: Folate is an ingredient linked with RLS, particularly for pregnant women. A 2001 study from the University of California looked at several women suffering from RLS during pregnancy. The study found that these women had significantly lower folate levels in the blood than women who did not have RLS. This indicates that a daily folate supplement could reduce RLS symptoms during pregnancy or at any other time.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is a vitamin responsible for keeping nerve and blood cells healthy. Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to several nervous system disorders, including depression, numbness, memory loss, insomnia, and joint pain, according to the New England Medical Journal. A 1993 study published in the “Journal of Postgraduate Medicine” showed that many elderly patients with RLS also had vitamin B12 deficiencies. When these patients were given vitamin B12 supplements, their RLS disappeared.
Valerian: Valerian root is a proven remedy for sleeping disorders. According to The National Institute of Health, several studies have proven valerian is effective to promote sleep. In one study, 128 patients were given 400 mg of valerian extract on nine nonconsecutive nights (other nights they would either take a mixture of valerian extract and hops or a placebo pill). The extract alone resulted in less time to fall asleep, better sleep quality, and fewer night awakenings.
Lemon balm: A study of 20 people conducted by San Martino University Hospital in 2011 showed that supplementing with lemon balm for a period of 10 nights helped stress people relax, and reduced insomnia symptoms. The patients showed a reduction in initial insomnia of 53 percent, and reduction of middle insomnia of 45 percent, and a reduction in delayed insomnia by 28 percent.
Wild lettuce: Health.com recommends taking wild lettuce to help promote sleep and reduce the symptoms of restless legs. This supplement soothes joint pain, eases headaches, relaxes muscles, and promotes calmness.
Hops: Hops, made famous through beer, also have a relaxing effect. Hops provide a mild sedative effect for insomnia and anxiety, and may help reduce the signs and symptoms of RLS.
L-theanine: This extract found in green tea is able to promote healthy sleep, according to Health.com. L-theanine boosts healthy REM cycles and promotes a feeling of calmness.
If you need a faster remedy to help stop RLS, mixing up a batch of sleep-inducing milk may provide the extra bust of sleepiness that you need to get to sleep and stay asleep. Sleep-inducing milk contains ingredients that promote sleep, including glycine (from gelatin- helps produce the hormone GABA), magnesium (from the molasses), calcium (from the milk), and hormone-balancing salt (essential for regulating natural melatonin production).
Another instant remedy for restless legs and insomnia is old-fashioned hot tea. How does hot tea help? The herbal ingredients in hot tea contain sleep-inducing herbs that can help you get over RLS and have instant relief from your itch to move. Choose teas with sleep-promoting ingredients such as:
If you have restless leg syndrome, you probably can’t relax at night, which means you will sleep poorly, or not at all. In addition to taking vitamins and supplements to help promote sleep, you can also take these relaxing measures to ensure you provide a night routine that encourages sleep.
Remove stress: Stress and an overactive mind will lead to a host of trouble when it comes to night sleep. There are several ways you can try to lower your stress levels. These include meditating, stretching, writing down your next day’s work on a piece of paper so you don’t have to think about it, and trying to focus on relaxing. Sometime strategies like progressive relaxation- where you physically try to relax your body starting from the toes up- can be quite effective at lowering stress levels.
Take a bath or shower: A warm bath or shower is quite relaxing at the end of a long day. The warm water can relax tired muscles and help you release any tension from the day. If you add essential oils to the bath, you can also promote relaxation and sleep.
Try sleep-inducing activities: If you do 20 jumping jacks before bed, then you are not likely to feel sleepy when you get into bed. Save all brain-intensive activities or physically-intensive activities for earlier in the day. Before bed, engage in calming activities, like meditation, stretching, or reading (if you do read, avoid using e-readers or a computer screen. Blue light from electronics can disrupt the production of melatonin, which could disrupt your sleep cycle).
Certain smells are known to promote sleep and fight insomnia. Choose these scents to have around at home during bedtime, such as in your bath, with candles in your room, or through simple oil infusions in pillows or potpourri.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, avoid smells in your bath products and room that promote wakefulness. Stimulating scents include grapefruit, peppermint, lemon, pine, and rosemary.
While you shouldn’t exercise right before bed, exercise earlier in the day can reduce the symptoms of restless legs syndrome. Exercise promotes the health production of serotonin, which encourages rest and sleep. Exercise also naturally produces dopamine, which can help relieve stress and may even cut down on RLS symptoms. Moderate daily exercise for 30 minutes or more can be effective at reducing RLS symptoms for any age.
Your diet can also play a role in how frequently you see RLS symptoms. Your diet can help you feel more rested at night. Diet rules for RLS are simply. Avoid eating heavy meals at night. Heavy meals are hard for the body to digest, and it may keep you awake at night.
Although you might think a heavy meal promotes sleep, like at Thanksgiving dinner, a heavy meal before bed is likely to disrupt sleep rather than provide benefit. In addition to eating light at night, avoid the consumption of alcohol and caffeine in the afternoon and evening. An exception can be made for beer containing hops, which has a known sleep-promoting effect. However, if you drink enough to become intoxicated, the sleep-promoting effects are negated. Wine and hard liquor do not contain sleep-promoting ingredients and should be avoided.
You can make your bedroom a haven of rest at night. This will help not only avoid RLS symptoms, but also set your mind to prepare for bed each night. The more routine your bedtime strategy is, the more likely you will be to feel rested and avoid RLS symptoms. Use these steps to keep your rest unbroken:
Schedule bedtime: A routine is essential for the production of hormones that regulate your sleep cycle. Try to go to bed within 30 minutes of the same time each night.
Remove attention-grabbing items: Do you keep electronics in your room? Don’t. Electronics and other brain-stimulating activities and items will make it difficult for your brain to reset at night. In addition to removing electronics, you should also remove any blue light-emitting items, which can interfere with the production of melatonin (which is responsible for regulating your sleep cycles).
Make your bed comfortable: If your bed huts you, you will not get a good night’s sleep. The best way to promote healthy sleep is by ensuring that your bed is comfortable and supportive for your particular sleep habits. If you are pregnant, a body pillow can be helpful in providing the necessary support to sleep well at night.
We all want to sleep better, and sleep is essential to good health. In order to obtain better sleep, you must stop RLS symptoms along with anything else that interferes with healthy sleep. By taking the right herbal supplements, including iron, magnesium, vitamin B12, valerian, and l-thymine, you can reduce your chances of seeing RLS episodes. You can also try a variety of other sleep-inducing strategies, like making sleepy milk, drinking tea, and transforming your sleep space into a haven of rest. All of these strategies will help you sleep better and help eliminate restless leg syndrome episodes.
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