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How to Use a Weighted Blanket for Restless Legs Syndrome

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, called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), 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?

Fortunately, the Weighted Blanket for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a natural solution that is perfect for relieving the uncomfortable symptoms associated with Restless Legs Syndrome. Using Deep Touch Pressure Therapy, we can use the power of a Weighted Blanket for Restless Legs Syndrome. 

What is Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)?


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 disorder that causes individuals to experience unpleasant crawling, itching, throbbing, tingling sensations or mild electric shocks in their legs in a resting position, leading to an irresistible urge to get up and move or jiggle their legs about. These uncomfortable sensations can range from frustrating to downright painful - hampering your nightly peace.

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 good 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 overwhelming 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.

 

What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome?


Doctors and Researchers don't know what causes Restless Leg Syndrome. There are some indications that it may be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain linked to dopamine levels. Other causes may be hereditary or due to pregnancy.

 

Who Is 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 (mostly for primary RLS), 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, iron-deficiency anemia, kidney failure, as well as the consumption of certain medications, including some antidepressants, antihistamines, and anti-nausea drugs. Some of these underlying health conditions 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! 

 

What Can We Do to Treat Restless Legs Syndrome


Unfortunately, there is no known fix-all cure or universal treatment for sleep disorders like restless legs. However, some simple lifestyle changes and self-care solutions that are mentioned below have all been proven to significantly reduce or relieve symptoms, which is encouraging for long-term sufferers of this sleep disorder.

  • Increased exercise

  • Decreased caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco consumption

  • Regular massages

  • Stretching

  • Less exposure to blue light of electronic devices,

  • Relaxation techniques before bedtime and

  • Use of  weighted blankets for restless leg syndrome

However, some of these natural solutions can only get you temporarily relieved from those unpleasant symptoms of RLS.

 

What Natural Solutions Can We Use to Treat Restless Legs Syndrome?


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. However, others tend to vouch for more natural solutions that include natural muscle relaxant. And you got to remember that there are no universal treatments for the underlying condition of RLS.

Natural solutions include using a weighted blanket for restless leg syndrome, regular exercise, massaging, stretching and relaxation + breathing techniques, warm bath. It's always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional first. He/she will determine whether simple lifestyle changes are enough or you require other kinds of treatments.

Weighted Blankets are a great natural treatment to treat Restless Legs Syndrome; besides helping cope with RLS, they have multiple other pros and cons of weighted blankets

Not only is a weighted blanket a great natural solution for RLS. Weighted blankets also help aiding individuals with down syndrome, anxiety & depression, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, as well as having a positive impact on pregnant women. 

 

Do Weighted Blankets Work for Restless Leg Syndrome?

Yes. Weighted blankets for those with restless leg syndrome can offer significant relief, as the deep pressure touch stimulation (DPTS) provided by the blanket triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine from our nerve cells, thus calming and relaxing both mind and body and easing symptoms such as leg cramps and muscle spasms.

 

Why Weighted Blankets Are an RLS Patient’s Best Friend?

This natural solution has been proven to have great results in managing both primary and secondary RLS symptoms. Thus, a quality weighted blanket for restless legs syndrome makes it easier not only to fall asleep at night but to stay sound asleep throughout.

Ever-more popular for treating insomnia symptoms due to the calming effect 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. You can comfortably tolerate pressure applied by the blanket since it'll be only 10% of your body weight.

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? Image of a Women with her Weighted Blanket on her legs laying down on a grey sofa

How Can a Weighted Blanket Help with Restless Legs Syndrome?


Here are the five unique ways weighted blankets can help with RLS -

 

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 muscle movement, including the leg muscles.

When you snuggle down under a heavy blanket, this exerts a gentle, even pressure on the body. This gentle pressure encourages stillness in the legs, helps to relax muscles, calms the nerves, and triggers key pressure points that help in the production of relaxation hormones.

 

2. More Melatonin and Serotonin 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 melatonin production - the “sleep hormone.” 

This is truly a win-win! These hormones promote a sense of overall well-being, helping to soothe racing thoughts and promote uninterrupted sleep. They have even been shown to physically slow down your breathing, a bodily mechanism that 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 heavy blanket for restless leg syndrome. 

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 stress hormone and improve sleep patterns, 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 for restless legs syndrome provides the perfect counterweight, conveniently making it harder for individuals to move and thus reducing twitching as you enjoy a restful sleep. Akin to swaddling or cocooning, this can help to avoid sleep deprivation.

 

 Benefits of a Weighted Blanket for Restless Leg Syndrome

Here is the list of benefits  of a heavy blanket for restless leg syndrome -

 

1. Promoting Relaxation and Healthy Sleep Habits

A weighted blanket is generally made of materials that are more likely to keep you cool as compared to woolen blankets during those hot summer days.

In winter, on the other hand, a weighted blanket filled with glass beads or steel shot can help trap heat and thus provide warmth throughout the night. The increased weight also adds to the overall sense of security and comfort, helping to calm restless thoughts with the added benefit of increased serotonin levels.

The deep pressure provided by heavy blankets has been known to improve sleep quality in individuals, especially people who suffer from a health condition, like RLS, ADD, or ADHD.

 

2. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common contributory factors in restless legs syndrome, so if you’ve got particularly severe RLS or Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep (PLMS), then investing in a weighted blanket is likely to help you feel calmer right away. The deep pressure that weighted blankets exert can have a hugging effect, providing comfort and security for those with anxiety disorders.

 

3. Improve Mood and Overall Well-Being

The deep pressure that a weighted blanket provides is known to increase serotonin levels, which can have an overall positive effect on your mood and alleviate feelings of depression or hopelessness.

The increased weight of heavy blankets can also help improve circulation, which is particularly beneficial for those suffering from restless leg syndrome. The additional pressure provided by the blanket has been linked to increased relaxation and can make you feel calm, allowing you to sleep deeper without the interruption of RLS cases that severely disrupt your sleep cycle.

 

4. Diminished Twitching, Kicking, or Movement

One of the main reasons that individuals with restless legs syndrome struggle to sleep is that they cannot get comfortable without involuntary movements and twitching at night. The weight of a blanket can help prevent these health issues from happening by simply making it more difficult for you to move around freely.

 

 Coping and Sleeping Better While Suffering from RLS

Here at Sunday Citizen, we encourage each and every one of our customers to embrace the solutions that can give them the better 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 weighted blankets for restless legs syndrome alongside or in place of some of the other coping mechanisms mentioned, to help alleviate those uncomfortable and undesirable RLS symptoms. Also, do check out our offerings for the best weighted blanket for restless leg syndrome.




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