Does a Weighted Blanket Help Restless Leg Syndrome?

Weighted blanket for restless leg syndrome

Do you often feel an irresistible urge to move your legs, especially later in the evening, after a long, tiring day? Does it make it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night due to those uncomfortable sensations in the legs? Well, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a very common condition that affects many people around the world. The resulting symptoms are not only limited to sleepless nights but several other health concerns that can be fatal. Thankfully, weighted blankets are known to bring a dose of relief to those suffering from RLS. There have been several studies that prove the effectiveness of weighted blankets on battling common sleep disorders, and RLS is one of them.

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, restless leg syndrome is a condition that causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs accompanied by a strong urge to move them. Since RLS typically happens in the later evening or nighttime, it usually disrupts sleep and is also considered as a sleep disorder.

Who Gets It RLS?

Although restless leg syndrome is known for affecting both sexes, it is more common in women than men. Moreover, most people who are affected by this condition severely are middle-aged or older, though it can affect even young children.

What Causes RLS?

The root cause of RLS is unknown, however, it is believed that genes play a great role. This means a person having a family history of restless leg syndrome is more likely to suffer from this condition. Other factors that may onset or aggravate the symptoms of RLS include:

  1. Chronic diseases such as iron deficiency, diabetes, kidney failure and Parkinson’s disease.
  2. Medications such as antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants, antinausea drugs, and allergy medications containing sedating antihistamines.
  3. Pregnancy, especially in the last trimester.
  4. Excessive alcohol consumption
  5. Inadequate sleep

Some evidence also suggests that RLS may be associated with how the body handles dopamine, which is a chemical involved in muscle movement. Low dopamine levels are linked to increased risks of RLS. Since dopamine levels are known to fall drastically towards the end of the day, the RLS symptoms often worsen at night.

What Are the Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?

  • Some of the common signs and symptoms of restless leg syndrome include:
  • Uncomfortable tingling, burning, itching or throbbing sensation
  • An overwhelming urge to move your legs to relieve sensations
  • Painful cramping in the legs, mainly in the calves
  • The symptoms occur only when you sit or lie down
  • Leg twitching, particularly during nights, while you asleep
  • Sleep disruptions at night and daytime sleepiness

NHS reports that more than 80% of people suffering for RLS also experience involuntary jerking of the legs – and even arms sometimes – which is known as periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS).

What Are the Concerns Associated with Restless Leg Syndrome?

RLS is associated with several health risks that are fatal:

  1. Serious Illness: RLS is associated with a variety of health concerns such as diabetes, compromised immune system, cardiovascular disease, memory problems, psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, weight gain, and more.
  2. Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a growing concern these days due to lack of sleep or sleep disturbances at night. Many people believe that sleep apnea is just about snoring, which isn’t true! These are actual obstructions in your breathing cycle that last at least 10 seconds. The air passages can become more obstructed over time, and in severe cases, those who suffer from this illness could go to sleep and never wake up.
  3. Drowsy Driving: The reports have shown that drowsy driving is responsible for a considerable amount of accidents every year. The daytime sleepiness interferes with your routine activities and driving is no exception. Thus, lack of sleep is a major concern that must be addressed as soon as possible.

Thus, steps must be taken to combat sleep deprivation and associated health risks. There are many researched solutions that are known for improving sleep, and weighted blankets are one of them.

How Weighted Blankets Can Help People with Restless Leg Syndrome?

Most often, people suffering from RLS don’t link their sleeplessness to their condition. But the symptoms of RLS can really deprive the person of sleep and the situation may get even worse. As such, due to lack of sleep, there are more RLS flare-ups that can prevent a person from being productive in the day due to daytime sleepiness.

Weighted blankets have long been touted as a suitable remedy for better sleep and relieving the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. But, what makes weighted blankets so special? Read on to understand.

As compared to regular blankets, weighted blankets are heavier because of the micro glass beads or plastic poly pellets that are sewn into ‘pockets’ inside the blanket. This extra weight promotes stimulation of pressure on the body, which is called Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS).

This firm but gentle, steady hug around the legs helps the body to release feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that are linked with relaxation and sleep. This deep pressure stimulation may help calm irritated nerves and unbearable sensations that occur during restless leg syndrome. Thus, weighted blankets help people with RLS both relieve their restless legs and get better quality sleep.

It feels good to be held and comforted gently. Weighted blankets for RLS work because they promote relaxation and rest, desired by all human beings. For people suffering from restless leg syndrome, it provides relief by calming the nervous system and reducing the sensations in the legs. The extra weight around the legs helps relax agitated nerves, which then relieves the symptoms of RLS.

Moreover, these blankets are made from a number of materials and fillers to give you the therapeutic benefits you need. From cotton, satin, and fleece to bamboo and other organic materials, you can choose the blanket according to your comfort and desire.

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About the Author: Alan

Alan has a passion for weighted blankets, and weighted therapy in general. From an insomniac to a relatively peaceful sleeper, he writes about all things for a better nights sleep on That's My Blanket.

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