my tote bag

Close

Five Weighted Blanket Benefits for Restless Legs

August 20, 2021

Here at Sunday Citizen, we’re all about good sleep - it’s kind of our thing. Silky soft bamboo sheets, cozy comforters, fluffy throws that make you want to jump into bed, snuggle down and let out an “ahhh” … you know the drill. 

But did you know that there is one sleep-depriving disorder that is robbing an estimated 7-8% of the U.S. population - an astounding 26.6 million people - of those sought-after restful, undisturbed nights that we all so deeply need?


Let’s talk about Restless Legs Syndrome…


Restless Legs Syndrome, also known as RLS, Willis-Ekbom Disease or WED, is a common yet curious neurological sensory disorder that causes individuals to experience unpleasant itchy, throbbing, tingling or creeping sensations in their legs, leading to an irresistible urge to get up and move, or jiggle their legs about. These persistent feelings can range from uncomfortable, to irritating and frustrating, to downright painful.

Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome occur most commonly and most severely when a person is at rest, sitting still or lying down for an extended period of time. This means that sufferers will tend to be more bothered by their symptoms during certain naturally more sedentary times of the day, usually late in the evening or at night. 

Unfortunately, it goes without saying that common activities such as long planes or car rides, nights on the couch binge-watching our favorite TV shows, or lying in bed, counting sheep and willing our minds and bodies to give us a peaceful night’s sleep, make for prime RLS time. 


“When quality of sleep is affected by RLS, there can be serious knock-on effects”


When an individual’s quality of sleep is affected by RLS, causing multiple disturbances in the sleep/wake cycle and the urge to get up and walk about in the night during key sleeping hours, there can be serious knock-on effects. Lack of sleep can have critical consequences on both mental and physical health. 

Insomnia and disturbed sleep have been linked to physical conditions such as obesity, cardiac disease, weakened immunity and high blood pressure, and have also been known to cause anxiety and depression. 

Think about it - if one bad night’s sleep due to your noisy neighbors with the terrible music taste (we’ve all been there!) can throw off your mood the next day, affect decision-making abilities and make it more difficult to regulate your emotions, one restless legs-related disturbed night after another is bound to have long-lasting negative impacts on your mental health.

Restless Legs Syndrome can also cause problems when sharing a bed with your partner – if they are a light sleeper, the effects of jiggling, twitching legs and constant “in and out of bed” activity can be almost as damaging for them as for the sufferer themselves.


So, who is mainly affected by Restless Legs Syndrome?


Restless Legs Syndrome has been known to affect individuals of all ages and genders. However, there are some noticeable trends; studies show that women are twice as likely to develop this disorder than their male counterparts (sorry, ladies!), there seems to be a genetic component, meaning that those with family members who suffer from RLS are more likely to be affected themselves, and RLS is most often reported by adults over 45 years old, with symptoms frequently worsening with age. 

RLS can also be triggered by external factors, such as conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, Diabetes, and iron-deficiency anemia, as well as the consumption of certain medications including some antidepressants, antihistamines and anti-nausea drugs. These factors lead to what is known as Secondary Restless Legs Syndrome. 

Interestingly, symptoms of Secondary RLS tend to subside relatively quickly once the underlying cause is treated or removed. For example, nearly a third of pregnant women develop RLS during pregnancy, yet their symptoms tend to completely disappear within a month post-partum - so no worries there, mamas! 


Now we understand more about Restless Legs Syndrome, what can we DO about it?


Unfortunately, there is no known fix-all cure or universal treatment for restless legs. However, some simple lifestyle changes and self-care solutions such as increased exercise, decreased caffeine, alcohol and tobacco consumption, regular massages, stretching and relaxation techniques before bedtime have all been proven to relieve or significantly reduce symptoms, which is encouraging for long-term sufferers of this syndrome.

Whilst some physicians recommend certain FDA-approved medicines to help treat or counteract this condition, including muscle relaxants, sleep medications, and iron supplements for those with anemia-induced Secondary RLS, others tend to vouch for more natural solutions.


Weighted blankets are an RLS patient’s best friend!


One natural solution that has been proven to have great results with managing both primary and secondary RLS symptoms, making it easier not only to fall asleep at night but to stay sound asleep throughout, is a weighted blanket. 

Ever-more popular for treating insomnia symptoms due to the calming sensations invoked of being hugged or swaddled, a weighted blanket is a heavy quilt with pockets typically filled with materials such as sand, plastic weights, steel balls or micro-glass beads, distributed evenly throughout the quilt. 

Along with hypo-allergenic premium glass pearls, Sunday Citizen adds a little extra magic into their weighted blankets - thousands of tiny pieces of Clear Quartz, Rose Quartz and Amethyst, to harness ancient, natural healing energy and promote soothing feelings of restoration and peace.


How can a Weighted Blanket help with restless legs? Here are 5 unique ways:

1. Deep Touch Pressure

The science behind weighted blanket benefits for Restless Legs Syndrome centers around something called Deep Touch Pressure, or DTP, which is a type of therapy generally used to support sensory modulation and reduce anxiety. This therapy triggers a calming reflex in the body and helps to relax one’s muscles.

When you snuggle down under a weighted blanket, this exerts a gentle, even pressure on the body. This pressure encourages stillness in the legs, soothing the muscles, calming the nerves and triggering key pressure points that help in the production of relaxation hormones.

2. Serotonin and Melatonin Production

Through the science of Deep Touch Pressure, and the brain’s association of the feeling provided by a weighted blanket with being hugged, cuddled and comforted, weighted blankets have been proven to stimulate the production of the “happy hormone”, serotonin, which in turn stimulates the body’s production of the “sleep hormone”, melatonin. 

This is truly a win-win! These hormones promote a sense of overall well-being, helping to soothe racing thoughts and promote peaceful sleep. They have even been shown to physically slow down your breathing, a bodily mechanism which allows sufferers to find rest and calm, overcoming the unpleasant sensations associated with Restless Legs Syndrome.

3. Overcoming Mental Hurdles

Treating Restless Legs Syndrome can be just as much of a mental battle as a physical one. After many frustrating and even painful sleep-deprived nights due to RLS, getting up to walk around often in the night and suffering from insomnia, it is all too easy for the human brain to start to associate bedtime and the bed itself with discomfort, stress, and anxiety.

This then becomes a vicious circle. Before even experiencing physical symptoms, sufferers of Restless Legs Syndrome can become anxious at the thought of getting into bed, and the night that lies ahead. At Sunday Citizen, we believe that getting into bed after a long day should be nothing but a pleasure, and one proven way of tricking the mind into overcoming these negative mental associations is to use a weighted blanket. 

Psychologists have suggested that the comforting, soothing pressure exerted on the body by a weighted blanket allows the body to switch from the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) to the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The SNS controls our “flight-or-fight” response, whereas the PNS governs our “rest-and-digest” response, so this shift allows us to switch gears and say goodbye to those agitated, restless feelings.

4. Bye Bye Cortisol!

Restless Legs Syndrome has been linked to a higher production of cortisol, a hormone produced by the body that can negatively impact stress and anxiety levels. To counteract this and improve sleep patterns, heavier weighted blankets work by “grounding” individuals, lowering cortisol levels throughout the night as you sleep, reducing stressful and fretful feelings, and combatting sleep dysfunction.

5. Ditch that Twitch

Once you manage to drift off to sleep, one of the most difficult elements of Restless Legs Syndrome is figuring out how to avoid the commonly experienced, completely involuntary movements and twitching during the night, which you cannot help, but which can easily wake you right back up again. 

Simply put, a weighted blanket provides the perfect counterweight, conveniently making it harder for individuals to move and thus reducing twitching as you sleep. Akin to swaddling or cocooning, this can help to avoid nightly disruptions.

One last word from us…

Here at Sunday Citizen, we encourage each and every one of our customers to embrace the solutions that can give them the sleep and rest they deserve. For those suffering from Restless Legs Syndrome, know that you are not alone. We hope this article has given you some key insight into this common condition, and might inspire you to try out a weighted blanket alongside or in place of some of the other coping mechanisms mentioned, to help alleviate those uncomfortable and undesirable RLS symptoms.

Hello You!

Join our mailing list