Restless leg syndrome affects millions of people, and seems like a silly and strange diagnosis ? almost like a make-believe or phony disorder just to sell more pills or something. If you peruse the internet you will quickly find that the disorder isn’t understood at all. The cause is generally unknown, and any theories about what causes it or will make it go away are fine examples of wild speculation.
I am very excited to report what I think is truly a breakthrough in understanding of the disorder. Even though it may sound well outside the realm of how the scientific community might explain or describe something, and relies on a great deal that is known to me, but not necessarily the modern scientific community, it represents a breakthrough nonetheless.
I can, in myself and in several others that I communicate with, turn restless legs on and off with great reliability. It has everything to do with what I refer to as the ?cellular energy concentration.
Our cells contain fluid that is called intracellular fluid. In that fluid is, for simplicity’s sake, salt and sugar. The concentration of salt and sugar in the intracellular fluid changes based on many different factors. For example, the lower your metabolic rate goes, generally the more difficult it becomes to retain salt. The elderly, who have the lowest metabolic rates and level of cellular metabolic intensity suffer from much higher rates of low salt levels ? known as hyponatremia.
HYPERnatremia, or having too much salt in your cells (-emia refers to blood, and blood levels probably only detect abnormalities in extreme circumstances ? I say ?cells? to loosely refer to what are normal, undetectable fluctuations in these levels throughout the day), just so happens to cause ?neuromuscular excitability.
Because of my interest in raising metabolic rate and keeping the hands and feet warm (a sign of decreased stress hormone production), I have played around with and recommended to others a very helpful trick ? which is to increase dietary intake of salt, calories, and carbohydrate in proportion to fluids (from drinks and that naturally found in foods themselves), particularly at the time of day when symptoms of hyponatremia and low metabolism present themselves (different for everyone I find, but a ?normal? human being will experience the greatest tendencies to enter this state in the morning ? experiencing greater coldness in the extremities, more frequent urination, bad moods including irritability and anxiety, etc.).
Following this step increases the concentration of the intracellular fluid. The result is an increased core temperature, increased warmth of the hands and feet, feeling calm and relaxed, and so forth. However, if you take this too far, it can result in some of the following symptoms: very heavy pulse, an uncomfortable sensation of excess heat in the hands and feet, trouble falling and staying asleep, irritability, headache, and sometimes the triggering of an uncontrollable urge to move your legs in a twitch-like fashion ? restless leg syndrome.
What’s even more interesting is that intracellular fluid concentrations seem to follow a 24-hour wave-like pattern. The typical peak in human body temperature and presumably intracellular salt and glucose concentrations is between 6-8pm. The typical trough is 12 hours prior to that. What is fascinating is that the lower you drive it in the morning, the higher it seems to go in the evening. You will note that many intermittent fasters that follow a morning fast/late night binge eating pattern report freezing cold hands and feet all through the day and intense warmth and vascularity in the evening while following such a pattern. And it is, of course, the modern way to eat lightly of smoothies, breakfast cereals, skim milk, juice, and coffee during the day and then eat voraciously of extremely salty, calorie-dense food with a low water content in the late evening ? all with very little physical activity. I personally find this to be an amazingly good formula for triggering restless legs.
So, in short, restless leg syndrome seems to be caused, at least in some cases, by mild, undetectable HYPERnatremia for lack of a more official phrase to describe it. I prefer to say that the cellular energy concentrations have become too high ? a consequence of taking my general metabolism-stimulating advice to eat more (carbohydrates and salt in particular) and drink less when body temperature is below normal a step too far.
The irony is that letting cellular energy concentrations dive too low seems to create an overcompensation effect later in the day. So, it’s important not to skip meals during the day, drink too many fluids, avoid salt, or eat low calorie-density foods exclusively during that time. By increasing cellular energy concentrations in the morning you can actually prevent them from peaking to aggravating extremes in the evening.
The solution for restless leg syndrome is really quite simple, and something that I am confident would provide relief to a large percentage of sufferers ? all without any drug interventions, harsh dietary restrictions, or other nonsense:
- Eat calorie-dense food with lots of salt and a low water content early in the day, rather than late in the day. Later in the day, foods that are high in water content and not so calorie dense ? like fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, legumes, soups, and salads are better choices.
- Exercise vigorously ? especially later in the day when cellular energy levels reach their peak. This helps burn up some of the glucose and expel some salt via sweat. Although I haven’t played around with it, saunas and things that make you sweat might suffice for those unable to do vigorous exercise for whatever reason.
- Drink more fluids in the afternoon and early evening, particularly water ? just not so much to trigger waking with a need to urinate while sleeping, or so much that you trigger frequent or clear urination, which should always be avoided. Early in the day, make sure not to drink so many fluids or eat so much water-rich food (like fruit or smoothies) that frequent or clear urination is triggered.
- Be cautious about consuming too much salt or overeating at dinner time.
Those of you who suffer from restless legs and experience chronic cold feet at night when you are experiencing these episodes, or frequent urination at night, please let me know in the comments section ? as this would hint at multiple mechanisms for triggering this disorder.
As of December 1, 2012, you can read a great deal more about the physiological principles alluded to in this post in the book Eat for Heat.
I’ve had bouts of RLS off and on for years. Thinking back on it, I think my experiences mostly fit your theory. I haven’t had a bout recently, so this is mostly from memory. The times when I would experience it would generally be when I didn’t eat much for breakfast or lunch, then eat a calorie-dense dinner, particularly one with a lot of easily digestible starch, such as white rice. And when it did occur, drinking water and stretching usually helped, but not immediately. I’d usually have to wait until I peed before I felt like my muscles would relax. Just my experience anyway.
I never thought that RLS was silly or made up because as soon as I heard about it I knew exactly what it was. It is something that I have experienced on and off since I was a child — long before there was any medication or any commercials to indicate that it was not a normal phenomenon. Mine typically only occurs when I am in a car or in a plane and I am overly tired. I haven’t connected it to any dietary patterns, but I haven’t considered that aspect. Luckily, it typically goes away for me once I can actually lay down in a bed and sleep.
However, I do also wake frequently at night to pee. I have had that issue since I was in high school.
Kay, I had read some damn health article many years ago about urinating before going to bed. I started following that religiously and now feel so uncomfortable if I don’t do so right before bed.
I sometimes feel very pee-ish when I am trying to fall asleep and have to get up a few times and do a little dribbling. Luckily i wake up only once in the night to pee after I fall asleep. Of course this screws up my sleep. How do you manage to get adequate sleep if you get up frequently? Do you drink liquids before bedtime? If not then the cellular theory above could be a good indication.
Hello PeeKing – although your blog didn’t actually say to me that you get RLS but, for those who do, I found that just drinking twice as much as I used to drink about a half hour before bed gave me a great RLS free sleep. Also, avoid highly salted foods just before bed (such as store-bought hummus). I think the hydration affects our electrolites and creates better movement in our cells somehow. Anyway, to my surprise, it didn’t make me get up to pee more. A tip for getting back to sleep is to have a soft black sock handy which you can drape over your eyes once you lay down. The total darkness from the sock stimulates melatonin production for sleep and the sock also cuts out noise as it drapes over your ears also. Sweet dreams!
Hi kay. Yours is the first case I’ve read that resembled mine. Typical rls is opposite of us in that it occurs WHEN sufferers lay down for the night. You and I NEED to lay down and then it goes away yes. Ina cat or on a plane yes. I’ve had to turn around in my seat and stare at the person behind me til it subsided. Now I drive a bus and it’s affecting my job.
Have never had RLS – but severe trouble falling/staying asleep – oh yes. I’m wondering if there’s a connection here. I do tend to eat more at night, less during the day. I’m going to switch this up and see how it goes. Will let you know how it goes.
Love your blog Matt!!!
I often have a very heavy feeling in my upper legs. Sometimes I feel little muscles twitching. I can suppress the feelings by cooling, using tiger balm, stretching and by raising my legs higher than the rest of my body. It is usually worst at night which makes it difficult to sleep. But when I have this they are also very weak and it is often triggered or worsened by heavy use of my legs. Back when I always felt shitty and tired (low metabolisms for sure) I had this really bad and after a leg workout my legs could feel like this for two weeks straight and be very weak the whole time.
I’m not sure if you can call this restless legs though, maybe it’s more of the opposite (?). I’ve had some minor success with magnesium though (but the Mg supplement I’m taking now doesn’t seem to do the trick).
oh but it does give me the urge to shake, move or tense my legs.
I sometimes experience RLS at night with the subsequent problems of sleeping, the method that works most of the time is drinking about a pint of water then returning to bed. I believe the cause of the restless legs is as said an electrolyte concentration imbalance, also because a lot of people claim that putting a bar of soap under their feet alleviates the problem. Soaps are negatively charged and the major electrolyte of the extracellular fluid is the cation sodium (positively charged). It would be fun to know if anyone has tried Earthing as an alternative solution?
I wonder if this is somehow related to premature uterine contractions that slow down upon drinking lots of water at once.
I have always assumed it was some progesterone decline induced by stress or maybe magnesium deficiency.
I have tried Earthing, all the products – jandals, computer mat, earthing sleeping bag (the biggest, most expensive product, well, before they came up with the earthing mattress…no relief. I walk around bare feet and believe in Earthing myself but I didn’t find the products themselves life changing. But your bar of soap idea works for me:) and my RLS has been severe for many years now. I hope others will try, it’s worth it.
I am thrilled, very greatful, Otilia
speaking of water and charges, this guy has some revolutionizing ideas..
I heard Dr. Dan Kalish say it was down to a major dopamine deficiency, so he prescribes tyrosine. He sees it a lot in sufferers of PTSI and Parkinson’s disease.
Matt, could you clarify please: where you say salt, do you mean the sodium part of salt? Salt is sodium chloride.
Great article Matt. I never thought it was diet related. What do you think of wikipedia’s take on using iron, vit c supplementation etc. I only get very mild episodes of this so I have not really thought of it as a problem – bigger fish to fry!
I’m wondering if folic acid would help at all?
Wow this is SO interesting!! I have chronic cold feet and also frequently suffer from the whole restless leg thing…. just last night I was up kinda late watching movies in bed (the restless legs usually kick in if I stay up later than usual). The normal sequence of events for me go something like this: cold feet for 2-3 hours after I get into bed (I use my electric blanket to stay warm until I warm up); then a short period of being nice and warm & comfy; then I overheat and have to stick my feet out the bottom of the blankets; then I get crazy legs that want to go running and can’t keep still. I’ve done the whole RBTI thing so I’m accustomed to not eating big at dinner and sometimes skip it altogether, so do you think taking a drink of water ought to be enough to calm my legs down? Of course the obvious answer for me is not to stay up that late but I just got three seasons of True Blood and I can’t stop myself :)
I suffer the same sequence of events concerning feet in the evening and I always thought and think it has something to do with stress hormones rising at night, due to not eating for a few hours – all reaching back to the body not being able to store much glycogen. That is exactly is what fks up my sleep – I fall asleep just fine, then wake up at 2AM and then every 60 to 90 minutes – might have something to do with circadian rhythms – instead of sleeping a bit more lightly during the “peak”, I wake up completely. And then again no trouble falling asleep… Usually I don’t wake up by the first peak – I sleep straight 3 hours, the best I can get.
I have RLS, along with all three of my kids. We also have thalassemia, which results is chronic anemia. Because of this, our ferritin is low. I have been told (by Mayo Clinic) that when ferritin levels are below 50, it can cause RLS. And, in general, when our iron levels are higher, we sleep much better. Recently, we had a run in with some moth balls which instantly caused anemia. Without realizing it, or explaining this to the kids, we all had horrible RLS that night – worst ever. And it continues now, months later.
We also have problems with nighttime urination. Is it because we are already awake due to the RLS, and therefore notice the need to urinate? Although it seems that as a family we do urinate much more than average.
We will be trying this and will let you know how it works for us. At present, we are all having a tough time at night with the RLS, so this is a good time to try it out.
OK, calorie-dense foods. What are those except for wheat and grains? Don’t get me wrong, pizza and pastries work wonders with my temps, but the trade-off is non-formed poo and a bad smell from the mouth. It never goes beyond that so I don’t think I have celiac.
Anyhow, what are my options except wheat? I have tried eating lots of salt, but if I have one teaspoon it’s not enough. Four tsps usually are, but then I always feel like I am going to die
I second this question. I do great with grains, my kids..not so much. So I’m trying to think of ideas for low water breakfasts that are not grain based. Anyone? Maybe something like hash browns and eggs?
I’ve found homemade french-fries/saut?ed potatoes (made in tallow or coconut oil) with an egg or two (and lots of salt!) to be the perfect breakfast when I want something grain-free.
With all my medical,hormonal weird symptoms,RLS is something I luckily never have had. I know my mom experiences this frequently though.
I love this site, but it’s not what it use to be. Month ago when Matt said he was “rebooting” the site to get back to the basics I was thrilled. It’s much worse. The old articles were much better and the site is actually going from “against the mainstream” into the mainstream. Even the comments on here about grains, Paleo, etc. Sisson would be proud. There is a reason why most of the old gang aren’t on here anymore.
The central problem here is that neither Matt nor ‘fat-adapted’ Sisson have really figured things out. Both provide solutions that work for a few and work for short periods of time for most people. Sisson’s approach definitely leads to fat loss and then the consequent problems that Matt refers to kick in. The 180 RRARF then works great when coming off this low carb approach. But continue to eat to as suggested here and you will be packing on the pounds – take a look at Matt himself recently compared to his earlier days..
Both diets might then be best classified as intervention diets and both have their pros and cons. Perhaps the much derided mainstream might have just got it right…
I have not experienced this, but I also like to eat during the day…and I also don’t like the feeling of overstuffing myself. My husband on the otherhand loves to overstuff himself and then add a beer on top of that in the evening and he experience RLS quite frequently, he also does the only have a couple pieces of toast for the entire day thing, which I don’t understand.. it makes you a pretty grumpy person all day. Interesting theory, next time he has it I will ask him what he ate all day.
If eating a large meal at night can cause RLS, then wouldn’t people who practice Ori Hoffmekler’s “Warrior Diet” be suffering from RLS? Has anyone done that diet and experience this?
I get restless legs from time to time- only lightly. I have not determined a cause.
My friend however says she gets it really bad when she has msg??
Is this not just more evidence to eat intuitively? If we can get to the place to listen to our bodies and respond accordingly, then we will have achieved some sort of equilibrium I think. Oversimplified, yes, but I’d say generally true.
Matt, I think you are really on to something with this – you can really help a lot of people! Thank you for everything you are doing!!
Coffee and caffeine causes “restless leg syndrome”.
Break the addiction to this poison and detox off it for a few months and this “disorder” should vanish (actually sooner).
nope sorry… done that, didn’t work.
One can read many, many “cures’ for RLS on the internet. There is no one thing that works for everyone. I assume Matt has run across the Marie Goodwin site that states “avoid all salt” and she has cured her RLS. Her page is a load of hooey, as are all sites that use the word cure. I will be interested in seeing where this one goes., If I drank all that water before bedtime, I would get the exact undesired effect of having to pee all night. LOTS of salt is notoriously unhealthy for people with high blood pressure , cardiac disease, etc. So, I do not think this is the answer either. We will see, but having high blood pressure and just going through triple bypass heart surgery with my mother last year, sodium can mess you up at the wrong levels. As always check with your doctors. This is not a healthy option for all RLSer’s sad to say. The multitude of internet “cures” fro RLS are mind bending and very misleading, never mind that these people want us to pay for information. I have several RLS support groups, and I would not recommend this to the majority of my members, ( groups since 1997)
not for everyone. No one, not even the researchers or experts know the cause, so to say that that caffeine is the cause of RLS is not absolutely true. OF course we should cut down caffeine for any sleep issues, but I drink no caffeine at all, and it makes no difference. There is Primary RLS (no known cause) and secondary RLS, that can be traced back to taking the wrong meds, too much exercise before bedtime,low ferritin levels (how your body stores iron, etc) 65% of all cases of RLS are genetic, as proven in the gens found in 2007 and 2009. My family can certainly prove that one! Me, both my sisters, my nieces, and my nieces’ kids all have RLS, so we do have the genetic factor.
Salty soy sauce causing Restless Leg Syndrome in sushi squid:
Dancing Zombie Squid Explained
It’s 1:55 am and I am awake with RLS, mild headache, dry mouth, stuffy nose, and a general “out of balance” sensation. I am just over 36 hours into carb loading and have been eating as much rice, potatoes, vegetables and fruits as I can hold along with reducing my water consumption. It sounds like I may have taken this too far especially in the evenings as I thought I needed to load up before bed so as not to wake up prematurely with low blood sugar. I am generally cold at night and experience RLS at night and when I sit for long periods of time.
Don’t drink coffee or have anything with caffeine, or chocolate, and sometimes don’t eat a meal at night, but do get restless legs. They stop when I go to bed, especially if I lie on my stomach. I can also reduce them a bit by watching tv on my left side. I used to think it was some kind of intestinal irritation, but I then I realised my arms were feeling it a bit too. If it’s about salt, why does it stop when I go to bed?
(this clip convinces me)
That video was freaky, but perhaps this guy explained why it was happening:
” Because these are fresh frog legs, the cells inside them are all still intact. The biochemical machinery still functions. There is still a source of energy for the muscles in the form of unused ATP molecules stored in the cells. All that the muscles need is something to activate them and they can still contract and relax (until they run out of ATP or something else shuts down the biochemical machinery).”
PS I so get very cold feet some evenings, but not on the same day as RLS. Hope this helps.
I hae RLS from time to time. Definitely with long drives in cars where I can’t stretch out properly. But also, a few months back, I started eating a big bowl of air-popped popcorn after dinner with some melted butter and a little salt each night, and started getting RLS almost every night. When I stopped with the popcorn (all foods after dinner actually), the RLS went away again.
So…carbs? Salt? I always thought it was excess carbs that triggered it.
Also, I have begun IF for a couple weeks, only tea and cod liver oil in the morning, and then eating from about noon to 6pm, and haven’t had RLS as a result. I do drink water a lot too, always carry a bottle around to keep me from getting too hungry in the morning.
I’m pregnant and started getting RLS in the evenings a couple of months back. It went away as soon as I actually went to bed though. Turns out I was a bit low in iron….VOILA. No more RLS after taking supplemental iron. I also read magnesium can be a solution for some people. So far just about every ailment I have had in life has been helped or overcome by some mineral or other. What foods I eat when have no impact…I already tried that one.
Same here, Loops! I got RLS during the last part of my second pregnancy. I was low in iron according to the tests but I refused to take iron tablets because the ones they gave me during my first pregnancy made me have instant diarrhoea! I figured that they hadn’t done much for my iron levels – or for any other levels for that matter – so I stopped taking them. I also read – somewhere!!! – that there was a good reason for women having low iron levels during pregnancy, i.e. to ensure that bacteria (I think) wouldn’t be able to use the iron in your body as food, which in turn would ensure that pregnant women would be poor hosts for nasty bacteria, which would die through lack of food and not be able to harm the growing baby. God knows if this is true, but I’m a natural sort of gal, so I chose to believe it!
Once I had given birth, the RLS went again and hasn’t returned since.
My take on RLS is that low iron DEFINITELY plays a role – the family above with thalassemia seems to prove the point, too.
About 15 years ago, I suffered regularly from RLS but now rarely have an episode… maybe 1-2 times per year. I started taking vitamin B supplementation and injections (for other issues) and began to notice that I had fewer RSD episodes following my injections and as the time for another injection grew near RSD episodes increased in frequency and intensity until I received my B injection then dramatically decreased (and eventually resolved.) This process took several years and I continued on oral B supplementation for sometime as well and now am on a maintenance dose.
I am not sure how this fits with your theory but wanted to share. I am interested to know outcomes of others.
I had RLS and ‘burning feet’ for years until I dumped grains and gluten. Gone – although it is a symptom of me being ‘glutened’. I suspect it is nutritional deficiency in origin – that the gluten robs my body of certain nutrients during its processing in my body.
Interestingly, I now make for my husband, who is also very gluten intolerant, slow-rise bread which, although I generally eat low-carb we can both eat without any ‘gluten’ symptoms. I believe that is because not only is the gluten pre-digested during the long fermentation process, but it also provides something in the region of 50% more nutrition – mainly B vitamins including Thiamin which is needed for carb digestion, and which we are lacking in the Western diet. Well, not necessarily lacking, but when the struggle within the body to process the high-carb highly-processed Western diet constantly robs us of more nutritional elements than the food provides us with, it is a foundation for deficiency issues and damage.
When food takes away more nutrition than it gives – and to be honest, much of the fractionated, denatured food out there does, we are in trouble…..
I am one of those with restless legs (which I always thought was an OCD thing, but maybe not?) and chronic cold feet at night (as well as waking up to urinate at least once during the night). The only thing that seems to help the nighttime waking is if I eat something mega-salty before bed (e.g. a spoonful of marmite). If I drink even half a cup of plain water, I end up urinating multiple times (totally clear), no matter what time of day. The only exception is if I am seriously hot or have just eaten something very salty and calorie-dense. Even then, it’s risky! I do tend to eat my larger meal in the evening, to try and keep warm at bedtime. In winter I cannot fall asleep without a hot water bottle!
I notice when i reduce my carbs my restless leg seems to subside. not sure if i’m imagining it or not. I am actually having an episode right now as i read this article and was barely able to sit here and finish the darn thing! some great ideas here. I will experiment with them and see what happens. its really annoying!!!
Generally I exercise in the first part of the day and eat very little until I gourge around 7pm.
1-2 hours later I have restless legs.
It lasts a few hours–maybe less if I stretch.
I have severe Restless Leg Syndrome and it affects me everyday. I can go days without sleep and frustration that sends you insane. I have tried everything I can think of and have tried many medications all seam to fail after time. I used to find strenuous exercise before bed (long distance runs) worked until I got heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Now I can’t sit down to watch tv or stay off my feet long enough for them to heel. There seems to be help for people with light to very mild RSL but nothing for severe. It has started to affect my arms recently and I took my self to hospital before I lost the plot but ironically they made me wait for 6 hrs in a waiting room unable to sit still and eventually the doctor said he knew nothing about it and gave me two sleeping tablets and sent me home. Any help would be a life saver
My husband has been suffering wiith RLS for years. He saw a doctor that deals with this,some kind of neurological doctor who prescribed him Parkinson’s medication sinemet. My husband got total relief and wanted to kiss this dr’s feet!! It helped him for about a year and he finally got good sleep for the 1st time in his life! Then it wasn’t helping as much so the dr increased the dose. Then when it wasn’t helping much the dr tried requip which was all over the commercials at the time but it didn’t help. The next drug which was recommended by the dr was to try a med for seizures which is also supposed to help with dopamine levels. Scott said no way since we know someone on that and he appears doped up all the time. The dr then said he should try Percocet which is what he takes to this day. Actually he takes at night 45min before bed and he sleeps great! Good luck to you!! Sheila
Hi. I have had restless leg since I was 12 and I’m 46. Mine is in both legs then spread to both arms. It can happen any time day or night 24/7. I don’t sleep more than 3-4 hours a night. Mine is so painful and mentally causing problems I think some times I’m going to go crazy. I tell people it’s like your worse mosquito bite
covering both legs and both arms every inch of them and having your hands tied so you can’t itch. If people say 1 mosquito bite can “drive them crazy” then imaging what I go through every day all the time. I have to take pain med for it. It’s the only thing that works. If you need anyone to talk to about it IDE be happy to talk. Good luck. Annmarie
“Those of you who suffer from restless legs and experience chronic cold feet at night when you are experiencing these episodes, or frequent urination at night, please let me know in the comments section ? as this would hint at multiple mechanisms for triggering this disorder.”
This is me! I have RLS in combination with very cold feet during the day and at night. I almost always wear thick wool socks when at home to try to combat the cold feet, but the socks aren’t very effective. I often find myself having to run my feet under hot water to warm them up, especially before bed. Both my RLS and cold feet worsen after a night out drinking alcohol, but the symptoms are present without the alcohol as well. Besides adjusting my diet as prescribed in this article, what else do you think could be triggering the cold feet?
I have the exact same symptoms as you do! Cold feet and hands in the evening. I find that walking maybe light jogging later in the evening helps and also I take a product called Midnight PM that helps me get to sleep, but I wake up feeling tired all day long. My RLS is not as intense but I have found very little outside of this that helps. My RLS also bothers me at about 3 pm every day and is off and on all night. I have low B12 levels but the shots did not help the RLS. Anyone try a chiropractor with success?
I’m 48 years old. Starting in April-May of 2012, I began to wake up frequently at night to use the bathroom. The number of times I woke up gradually increased to about two to five times a night.
I’m usually very skeptical of the claims of supplement makers. I take a multivitamin, cinnamon to reduce my blood sugar and niacin to reduce my triglycerides. (Both were recommended by my doctor). After doing much research online, I suspected that my problem was due to Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)–a common condition of men 50+ yrs old. During a doctor’s office visit, I asked him about taking a supplement. He was positive about trying a supplement to relieve my waking up at night to go to the bathroom.
I researched several different brands and decided to try the Dr Max Powers Prostate Supplement. Within a week and a half of starting the supplements, I was only waking once or not at all at night. I’ve been taking the supplements for about 4 months now and recommend them.
Alan, When you say your problem was due to BPH, are you referring to your bathroom problem waking you at night, or RLS? I realize that this blog is about RLS, but you never really say that RLS is your problem. I am a veteran with a double amputation and have had sever RLS that comes in infrequent times. When I so get it, usually I am having symptoms of BPH. I was trying to get some info on RLS being a symptom of BPH before going to my doctor.
Scientific studies have shown that Restless Legs Syndrome occurs significantly higher in pregnant women. Inflammation is a likely cause. There’s also scientific evidence of a higher presence of inflammation in pregnant women.
You can view the studies here: http://www.rlcure.com/othercond.html
A new study was published in the January 14, 2012 issue of “Sleep Medicine Review Journal” that supports this theory. You can read that study here:
You can view the results of other related scientific studies and learn about some helpful solutions at this RLS information website:
A blog for RLS sufferers with helpful tips can be found here:
The solution is a combination of a proper anti-inflammatory diet as well as introducing natural supplements and key vitamins into your daily life.
I have Restless leg AND cold feet. It’s pretty weird. But since I’m following your advices in your books my hands and feet are much warmer.
hi just want to know if this is what i have i sit on the toilet and after a few minutes only my right leg goes number then if i sit at a table with my hands and arms on the table my upper arms go numb then if im lying on my side and i have my hand on my head after a few minutes my arm goes numb should i be worried about this
and this has only happened for the last 2 years could it be also im a little over weight
I found I have RLS only on nights I eat chocolate. No chocolate no RLS.
I have to agree. Chocolate is what causes this to me. And yea, alcohol too.
You are sooo right, my restless back occurs 24 hues after I’ve eaten miso soup
I’ve had RLS since 12, I’m 46. I get it 24/7. In both arms and both legs. I also don’t sleep. 3-4hrs a night is all I get. Unlike a lot of you I also get very hot feet. I hate it. What I wouldn’t give for cold feet. The heat aggravates my RLS. I’ve tried just about everything. This affects me not just physical pain but mentally it can drive you nuts! Many things have changed over the years including diet and exercise with no change to my RLS. It seems to get worse as I get older.
If anyone has HOT feet with RLS I would love to hear from you. Good luck to all.
I used to have very very cold feet and now for about one year my feet and hands are burning hot at night. I had RLS with cold feet and now with hot feet…it’s worse when the feet are hot, so makes me think it may have something to do with inflamation, triggered my multiple factors. I have severe hypoglycemia, and candida, I wonder if candida triggers the rest of the health issues. I manage it with diet, but it never goes away. Anyhow, try the soap bar directly on the skin for relief, it seems to work. Otilia
I get restless legs whenever I eat a lot of sugar/sweets.
Annmarie – You are describing me to the “T”! I had RLS since I was a small child. I am one of 11 and many of my brothers and sisters have RLS. I also have hot feet which seems to make RLS unbearable. I have arms, legs 24/7. I do take heavy doses of ropinirole and a sleeping pill at night. I some times have to take ropinirole in the day time which can make you sleepy. There are nights that I fall asleep for a couple of hours and wake due to RLS. I head out to the living room so I won’t disturb my husband. I will then have a few crackers and some cheese. This seems to calm my RLS. Not great for the waistline tho!
I’ve noticed something that I haven’t heard talked about yet but I’ve kept track of this and it happens almost every time. I’ve noticed that I get RLS on the nights that my husband and I have made love. Wondering if anyone else has noticed that about themselves as well?
I experienced “Restless Leg Syndrome” (RLS) and “Hot Feet” at night fairly often for years and thought it was due to stress or lack of exercise. I am a classic no breakfast late night binger, but never made that connection.
Then due to an intestinal issue, I cut refined sugars and starches out of my diet and both the RLS and hot feet went away. After correcting my intestinal issue, I reintroduced a more balanced diet including some sugars and starches in moderation. Now I notice I get RLS and Hot Feet after eating McDonald’s which is high in both sugar and salt.
There is a direct connection between RLS, Hot Feet and either sugar or salt or both, at least for me.
Will folic acid help me w/RLS Im soaking in a warm bath & mild excercise? Please help:))
I’ve found that magnesium clears up my restless legs syndrome. You need a good quality supplement, though, as not all of them absorb into the body well. I’ve found that the cheap, supermarket magnesium supplements do nothing for my RLS. So if you try one that doesn’t work, give another a try.
I actually find that blackstrap molasses also works for me (I’m assuming because it’s quite high in magnesium). I take that rather than a supplement these days, as the molasses is also full of other good things.
I would avoid ‘folic acid’, but consider folinic or methylfolate, the natural forms of folate. Also have your doctor check your iron levels (ferritin) as low iron can be related to RLS. B12 deficiency can also be related to RLS.
I know that Matt tends to think that worrying about specific nutrients is in general a waste of time, but I hope he’ll broaden his perspective.
I am one of those RLS sufferers who was born with RLS and has a family history of RLS. I have tried just about every medication there is with Mirapex being the most beneficial. I recently discovered that when eating Wise brand potato chips or Ritz crackers I experience a noticeable relief from my RLS symptoms. I am convinced there is something to this idea of salt causing some noticeable relief. With that being said; are there any active research or studies going on that follow this idea?
No formal studies that I know of, but I am positive that electrolytes and daily hormonal fluctuations are primary players. I know that for sure in my dealings with various individuals. How broadly that can be applied to ALL RLS sufferers is what I’m a lot more unsure about.
Hi Matt, you mentioned it was okay to let you know if this happens: “Those of you who suffer from restless legs and experience chronic cold feet at night when you are experiencing these episodes, or frequent urination at night, please let me know in the comments section ? as this would hint at multiple mechanisms for triggering this disorder”. I have all of this except the cold feet. I use lots of “real salt” in my water and food because it is supposed to help with adrenal fatigue. I drink one cup of coffee and most of my water early in the day. I eat oatmeal or quinoa for breakfast, a very small lunch, and a fairly large dinner. I exercise vigorously six days a week. I am also hypothyroid and take Nature Throid. The RLS only bothers me soon after I eat dinner. I would sleep well if I wasn’t getting up 2 to 4 times a night to use the restroom. Any ideas?
I would completely reverse your pattern. Wake up and eat very heavy. Calorie dense foods with low water content. Lots of carbs, salt, and fat.
Mid-day eat a moderate meal. Maybe sandwich with soup or salad. Fluid intake can increase quite a bit with water and fruit juice.
Dinner should have virtually no salt in it and be light. Just enough to be able to go to sleep. Maybe fruit and cottage cheese or similar.
Definitely no salt in your water anymore. You probably need to increase magnesium and potassium levels significantly, but not salt.
What’s with exercising vigorously 6 days per week while fighting suspected hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue? That’s an awful idea. Please tone it down.
Let me know how that goes. If moderate changes like this don’t work, it may require something a little more aggressive, but I’m certain there’s a solution. Take your body temperature too. Odds are it’s too low in the morning and too high at night. If that’s the case, you’ll find these suggestions increasing temperature early in the day and decreasing it late at night. Making it more consistent throughout each 24 hour cycle, which might also be quite helpful. Good luck. I’ll be here checking comments if and when you decide to give me a report on how you’re doing.
My mom used to have severe RLS, but it is gone now and she doesn’t know why. I think it is because of a high blood pressure medication (amlodipine) that dilates the arteries resulting in more blood flow.
For me, if I am hungry before sleep, I will get RLS for sure. Feeling full when going to bed is relaxing. Exercising helps. Too much coke/caffeine is bad.
I will try drinking more water in the evenings and see if it has any effect on me.
Great article! I wanted to let you know that I don’t find that salt bothers me, but high carbs and refine sugars will set my legs a dancing in the evenings. I had a nurse co-worker who would come back from lunch, and her legs would start dancing as well. (we had desk jobs) I tried to tell her she had to many carbs, that turn to sugar, but she wouldn’t listen to me, nor would she tell me what she had for lunch. I always say… what did you eat last? keep a journal.
I have severe RLS – five symptoms alternating in arms, legs and back all day long everyday (restlessness, itching, muscle cramps, searing and joint pain). I get relief if I sleep. RLS in arms usually wakes me up after 2-3 hrs of sleep.
I don’t use caffeine. I drink on average 60 fl oz of water a day.I have cut out refined sugars, most flour never add salt to my food.
My ferritin level is fine altho I was told this blood test is deceiving and does not necessarily measure deficiency. My B12 level is fine. I take multivitamin, But D, magnesium, calcium and probioitic.
I’ve had allergic reaction to Requip, Neupro patch. Primidone (old seizure med) and baclofen for muscle cramps and joint aches brought on restlessness. Lyrica works for possibly up to three hours.
If I do get sleep at night I usually only wake up once to go to the bathroom.
I don’t have cold feet but I keep my lower legs and feet covered with two blankets all day and all night. I know if my legs and feet are uncovered I quickly get excruciating calf cramps and toes joint pain ( feels like my toes are being broken – torture).
RLS is a insidious relentless condition. I have multiple risk factors causing RLS a woman in my 50’s, very well controlled Type II Diabetes, an existing neuropathy prior to getting RLS. I either had RLS for a period of time but chronic pain meds treated /masked the condition – or caused RLS. A month after stopping my 7 yrs of taking pain meds I ?got? developed RLS. The condition gets worse which is often why med dose has to be increased or med has to be changed.
I want to know whose sensations get worse on rainy days/nights.
RLS is FOUR times higher in diabetics compared to healthy folks.
It may be ‘well-controlled’ in some ways, but since type 2 is reversible, perhaps that might be your answer. Also look into high ammonia levels, another risk factor.
Hi, great article! I recently developed the theory that my RLS, internal temperature, and eating habbits were linked. I noticed originally that my legs felt quite hot in the evening when I got rls. My first solution was stamping my feet on the ground and walking round the room but this was not too effective. I then started taking my socks and shoes off and rolling up my trouser legs every evening back from work. When it got really bad I would also run my feet under cold water to try and help. Sometimes I’d dream of dunking them in a bucket of ice and water. Then a friend told me that she sometimes drank cold water in the evening when she got rls. I started doing this and found it helped alot. I would drink a couple of points of cold water and sometimes after not too long my rls would go away. The biggest fix however has come recently through a diatry change. I started having (big) breakfasts again and stopped having food in the evening. I now only seem to get rls when I break this behaviour and eat in the evening. It’s so great to be almost free of this horrible sensation that is so hard to describe to others. My current thinking was that in the evening my energy output goes down so if I eat a big meal in the evening more of it gets turned into heat energy that then causes rls. I think your article makes a lot of sense and is very interesting so thanks for sharing.
Our metabolic rate, blood pressure, and other things peak in the evening. With a higher metabolic rate at that time, we have more blood volume and higher sodium concentrations in the blood. Therefore, eating a big, heavy, salty meal can take the levels too far. One of the side effects of high sodium levels in the blood is neuromuscular excitation.
But it is so weird how eating a really heavy, salty meal early fixes it. I can even get away with eating heavy food at night if I do that. But if I have something watery with low salt in the morning, like a smoothie, heavy food late in the day will really mess me up. Restless legs, extreme heat in the extremities, really hard, pounding heart beat, etc.
My restless leg is so painful now experiencesing very cold feet I can’t fall asleep the pain is excruating
This has been the most helpful article and comments i have ever read about RLS. I changed jobs about a year ago and am now at a desk all day. i have noticed that my RLS is getting out of control since the new job. I also should tell you that i started running ultra marathons since i started this job as well. I have woken myself and my boyfriend up in the middle of the night because my legs would not stop shacking; they shake so bad that i am move the whole bed. I also just started monitoring my salt intake because i was having some pretty big signs of hyponatremia. I was researching hyponatremia and stumbled upon this blog. So all that to say, do you think my RLS got bad from the new sitting job, ramping up my miles big time or hyponatremia, or maybe a mix of it all?
Because of how many miles I put in, i eat a lot but i eat very healthy.
I am also starting to feel it in my arms, and i wake up normally once in the night every night to use the restroom…but so does my dog ;)
Uh, no one replies to posts on this ancient and now defunct site anymore. Which is probably a good thing, as most of the “advice” here was ridiculous and detrimental.
Funny you wrote this after I just wrote about 20 comments.
Yet you didn’t bother to reply to Robin’s comment about her worsening RLS.
And 20 comments on what, how many hundreds of old posts? Not to mention the fact that you left haven’t posted a new topic in years…
I guess you must have a different definition of defunct.
I have only been posting a couple times a year, but I still answer most comments eventually. Occasionally a few slip through. I appreciate your cunt attitude though. That helps me feel better about not spending so much time here anymore.
Occasionally a few slip through. That was funny.
And thanks so much for helping to make so many people’s health so much worse with your idiotic advice.
Well, that’s not fair really. I’ll admit you probably helped a few people with some good advice. But 75% of it was not only idiotic, but dangerous.
You’d be a cunt too if your health was ruined because of it. You really would.
So your health was amazing when you found me and now it’s crappy? Where do I tell people who are feeling and functioning great to eat and sleep all day to improve their health? I don’t remember writing that.
Oh, but you believe that your bad health is all my fault now. Why, because you gained some weight? You don’t feel like you did on an adrenaline-laden “cleanse” you did years ago?
Where are all these people whose health is “ruined” now? Why don’t they comment here?
“So your health was amazing when you found me and now it’s crappy? Where do I tell people who are feeling and functioning great to eat and sleep all day to improve their health? I don’t remember writing that. ”
Hmm, I don’t remember writing that my health was amazing when I found you and now it’s crappy, etc., etc.. So I guess I’ll ask you, where did I tell you that?
I also didn’t say my bad health is all your fault, and I DO credit you for your efforts on orthorexia-related issues and all the diet fads out there. I do Matt, just want to make sure you got that.
But I was doing a lot better before I came across your blogs. I could walk a lot further, for one thing, instead of relying on a wheelchair 80% of the time. I’ve lost an incredible amount of muscle.
So I tried ice cream and other more satisfying foods, some I could tolerate, others I couldn’t. It wasn’t until I did so (and Joey Lott’s similar advice didn’t help), I gained a large belly, my good cholesterol went down and my bad went up, and my triglycerides skyrocketed. All of which made my circulation worse, which made my digestion worse — gastroparesis is horrible — which then increased my RLS (off and on) and so I find myself back here, to see if any of your commenters found relief. Some did, but a lot didn’t, but I guess they ‘slipped through the cracks’. That’s a lot of cracks. :)
Brain fog comes in as well — it’s terrible lately — so I had completely forgotten about our exchange. I apologize for being, as you say ‘a cunt’, and realize my anger isn’t helping my situation at all, but again, I think you’d be a little upset at the very least, if your health had tanked as mine has.
Again, it’s not all your fault. It’s ultimately my responsibility. Just very difficult doing it all on one’s own…so I guess I tended to put you and others too high on a pedestal.
Your article has finally put all the pieces of my puzzle together. I already knew salt and sugar both contributed to my RLS, but couldn’t figure out the why’s. What you described above about the pattern of eating, is exactly what I was doing. Mine was so bad, that I actually cut salt, sugar, and all processed foods completely out of my diet. However, I did discover by accident, that Green Tea eliminated the RLS symptoms 20 minutes after drinking it. I wonder if Green Tea helps balance the electrolytes? Either way, thank you so much for this blog. It was very helpful and makes perfect sense.
Hi Matt, I cannot find anything about burning feet. As it seems to be related to restless legs, I’m asking here. I have burning feet, mostly when resting or at night. It’s an on and off thing, and I can’t find a connection nor a cause. It’s not painful but at times not far from it. Any ideas?
Thank you and keep up the good work