I was desperate one night at my boyfriend’s house. My legs were cramping terribly. I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t stretch for fear of waking my bedfellow. After two hours I resorted to walking in circles on my tiptoes, the only thing to abate the itching pain.
Unfortunately, though perhaps in part due to my rather inactive lifestyle, I’ve managed to activate my hereditary Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). My mother suffers from it, as did her mother before, particularly in her old age as she became more sedentary due to illness. But me, at 25 now, what’s my excuse?
What is RLS?
My mother and I describe it as an “itch” that cannot be scratched. Other accounts have described it as a creepy-crawly feeling like there are bugs under your skin, in your muscles. They are absolutely right. It may lessen with stretching and moving around, but the moment you stop it’s back again.
In short, it keeps you from sleeping and is physically aggravating to the point where you may be tempted to tear at your skin.
It rears its ugly head at the worst moments, usually in the evening when I’m nodding off but willing myself to stay awake. Then I “have to go to sleep.” When it gets really severe, you can’t even fall asleep.
Mind you, I haven’t been officially diagnosed, nor would it really do me much good. Save for a handful of prescription medications which block the brain’s receptors of the hormone dopamine, it does little but cover up the symptoms since RLS has “no cure.”
RLS is an “under-diagnosed” and “treatable” condition, but with “no cure,” according to the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation.
Surely, I thought, there must be a way to treat the underlying cause. But, what is it anyway?
Frustrated on the night at my boyfriend’s house when the “ants” came marching in, I Googled for some kind of remedy. Any kind of remedy. What I found was the suggestion of Vit D3 3,000iu and 1,000 mg Vit C.
Low and behold, I was on the down slope of one of my crazy vitamin kicks and had just what I needed in my bag.
I took 3 of these Trader Joe’s brand Vit D3 capsules, but I imagine any pure supplement will do the trick.
The Verdict: After another 30 mins or hour, the itchies quieted enough for me to drift off to sleep. This remedy is a keeper!
A few years ago, when Vit D tests became the new fad box to check on blood work slips, nearly everyone’s readings came back low. In my 5 years as a medical administrative assistant, I saw many, many circled vitamin levels and many, many blue scripts for Vit D3, 3,000iu, including my own.
This study published in Sleep and Breathing in 2014 found the results of 12 test subjects with RLS to indicate “vitamin D supplementation improves the severity of RLS symptoms and advocates that vitamin D deficiency is conceivably associated with RLS.”
When vitamin D levels were increased, it positively impacted the patients’ RLS symptoms overall.
Yes, it’s one study, but it’s a study whose results I was able to replicate in the field, on demand, when I needed it the most. That’s all the convincing I need. Maybe it’ll put the stop to your inexplicable itchies too.
(Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to locate any medical rationale to the addition of a Vit C supplement and reducing RLS symptoms, but if the D3 doesn’t seem to work on its own, give it a go maybe. I’ve also read reports that iron deficiency may effect RLS.)