by Lorna Driver-Davies, Nutritional Therapist at Grace Belgravia Medical Clinic.

Restless legs or Restless Legs Syndrome is not a sign of a serious condition but can be uncomfortable and disturbing for the sufferer.

Since it often occurs more in the evening time or when trying to get to sleep, over time, sufferers may feel frustrated at not being able to rest or fall asleep.

Possible Causes

One reason or cause for the syndrome is still unclear although it is considered a neurological condition and imbalances in the nervous system may cause those symptoms. There are links to imbalances with dopamine – a neurotransmitter and chemical made naturally by the body. Additionally, these kind of symptoms may be linked to mineral deficiencies (listed here below).

Some will report more symptoms when ‘over-tired’ (often signalling that it is ‘time to go to bed’), and the twitching will cease once falling asleep. Some researchers think it has to do with the muscles and nervous system reacting suddenly during the transition phase your body goes through while shifting from being awake to sleep – which would make sense if you are very tired, your body is trying to go to sleep.

While the link with dopamine is complicated, I advise (and so will your doctor) avoiding foods tea, coffee, alcohol and sweet foods closer in the early evening or before bed. These foods do affect dopamine levels. The caffeine in the coffee or tea will also stimulate the nervous system.

Restless legs may also be an electroyle insuffiency – as one symptom of that is twitchy muscles. Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. They regulate our nerve and muscle function, our body’s hydration, blood pH, blood pressure and more. Electrolytes include: calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium. When we do not consume enough liquids or when we sweat, we lose electrolytes. Electrolytes are also found in fruits, vegetables and we more recently we have discovered the benefit of drinking natural coconut water to replace electrolytes. Some people report isolated or one-off incidents of restless legs during long haul flights – suggesting a combination of the tiredness and stress that can come with flight travelling, as well as the dehydrating environment of the cabin that may have some effect on the nervous system and electrolyte levels.

9 Steps To Help Restless Legs Syndrome

• Reduce or cut out sugar, tea, coffee and alcohol in your diet – especially in the later part of the day and more importantly, the evening.
• Exercise is also recommended by doctors and health professionals to support the syndrome.
• Increase your levels of vegetables in your diet. You can also in addition, use algaes such as chlorella, spirulina and blue green algae as well as land grasses such as wheatgrass and barley grass.
• Get your iron levels checked to see if your levels are low – this is more common in women who have periods. Also get your B12 levels checked. B12 is important for the health of the nervous system and those on a vegan diet need to pay extra close attention to their levels.
• Stay well hydrated throughout the day. As well as water, consider drinking natural (sugar free) coconut water and you can also add electrolyte drops to a bottle of water.
• Take a good magnesium supplement. In my clinic I specially recommend only food form magnesium as it goes deep into the cells where its needed and is entirely natural. At Grace Medical Clinic ask for Wild Nutrition’s Food-Grown magnesium and take 2 caps early evening.
• Support your nervous system with a B complex, the amino acid theanine and relaxing and calming herbs such as Tulsi (holy basil) and valerian.
• Since some people report they experience restless legs during more tiring and stressful days or months, try using herbal adaptogens such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Siberian ginseng to support the nervous system and adrenal glands. B vitamins and magnesium for also critical for managing the effects of stress and an intense or demanding life.
• Make sure you get 8 hours sleep a night as this supports overall health but especially for the adrenal glands and nervous system.

To book an appointment with Lorna Driver-Davies please call Grace Medical Clinic on 020 7235 8900 ext.2.