Managing restless legs syndrome on a daily basis may take some trial and error. Treatments and lifestyle changes that work for some people may not work for others. In addition to prescription medications, getting regular exercise and implementing a consistent sleep schedule can be helpful. Taking baths, getting massages, and heating or icing your arms and legs may be other good options for managing symptoms. You should also limit caffeine and alcohol consumption and stop smoking.
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There are ways to improve your symptoms of restless legs syndrome at home.
- Exercise. Regular, moderate exercise may reduce symptoms. Avoid long periods between activity and avoid sudden bursts of intense activity. Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
- Heat or cold. Your symptoms may be relieved by bathing in very hot or very cold water. Or try a heating pad or ice bag.
- Changing your sleep schedule. Fatigue can make your symptoms worse. Because symptoms typically improve around 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., try going to bed later than usual or allowing extra time for sleeping in to help you get the rest you need.
- Stretching and massage. You may be able to control your symptoms by gently stretching and massaging your limbs before bed or as discomfort begins.
- Caffeine and alcohol. These may make your symptoms worse.
- Certain medicines. Some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines (such as cold and sinus medicines) can make symptoms of RLS worse. If you think your symptoms get worse after you take a certain medicine, talk to your doctor.
- Being confined for long periods. Try to plan for times when you will need to remain seated for long stretches. For example, if you are traveling by car, plan to make some stops so you can get out and walk around.
- Excessive exercise. Although moderate exercise may help relieve symptoms, unusually intense workouts may make them worse. Try to figure out at what level exercise helps and at what point it triggers restless legs syndrome.
See your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, if they become worse or if they significantly interfere with your sleep and daily functioning.
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