Plus, seven science-backed steps to fix it… without resorting to drugs
There’s a sneaky health problem that robs up to 15 percent of people around the world of their sleep—leaving them at wit’s end, tossing and turning, night after night.
It’s so unrelenting, many sufferers resort to taking powerful drugs to knock themselves out to get any sort of relief.
The problem is, those drugs come with a terrible slew of side effects. And—they lose their effectiveness over time.
Not to mention, they do NOTHING to address the root cause of the problem. (I’ll tell you all about these common causes and how to address them in just a moment.)
Worst of all, it significantly increases your risk of suffering an even BIGGER health crisis… such as a heart attack or stroke. Here’s everything you need to know…
Much more than “just” a sleep problem
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sneaky sleep disruptor that affects tens of millions of adults around the world.
It typically rears its ugly head in the evening—just when you’re about to relax and unwind. You’ll start to feel an unpleasant sensation deep in your legs that’s often described as:
Moving your legs eases the creepy-crawly feeling—but only temporarily. In fact, people with RLS typically move their legs 200 to 300 times a night seeking relief!1
Obviously, this maddening nighttime routine wreaks havoc on your sleep and mental health. And symptoms can get worse over time.
Plus, as I just mentioned, evidence suggests it skyrockets your cardiovascular disease risk, too…
RLS skyrockets heart attack and stroke risk
In an eye-opening new analysis published in the journal Neurology, researchers looked at the link between RLS and serious cardiovascular disease outcomes (including heart attack and stroke) in almost 3,500 people.2 The participants’ average age was 67.9 years.
Overall, 6.8 percent of women and 3.3 percent of men in the study had RLS. And these sufferers had more than DOUBLE the risk of developing cardiovascular disease or suffering a stroke.
Plus, the folks in the study who struggled with RLS symptoms at least 16 times per month—and those with the most severe symptoms—had the highest risk.
While a number of triggers may be involved, the researchers in this study (and the next analysis I’ll discuss) blame the nightly leg movements…
Researchers investigate possible causes
Poor sleep—all by itself—is certainly a risk factor for suffering a heart attack or stroke.
But researchers believe every time someone with RLS moves their legs at night, it triggers a cascade of harmful reactions in the cardiovascular system…
In another study published in Neurology, researchers examined nighttime blood pressure (BP) readings in 10 patients with RLS.3 Ultimately, they found that BP readings increased significantly at the exact moments during the night when the participants moved their legs.
On average, systolic BP (the top number) went up 22 mmHg and diastolic BP (the bottom number) went up 11 mmHg at these moments.
That’s quite an increase. In fact, it’s enough to bump you from a “normal” BP reading into “stage 2 hypertension”!
This finding led the researchers to conclude that the repetitive leg movements of people with RLS is the underlying factor behind the increased cardiovascular disease risk.
Now, let’s move on to seven common causes and how to fix them—so you can sleep better and avoid suffering a catastrophic heart attack or stroke…
Seven ways to calm RLS—no drugs needed!
Research shows you can calm RLS—or even avoid it altogether—without resorting to dangerous drugs. All it takes is these key steps:
1.) Correct common nutritional deficiencies. In my experience, people with RLS often suffer from severe nutritional deficiencies—the most common being vitamins B6 and B12 and magnesium.
In Europe, they call the Bs “neuro” vitamins—which may explain why they’re so helpful with RLS. Of course, B6, B12, and folic acid (another B vitamin) also help lower homocysteine. And high levels of homocysteine is a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
So, consider incorporating a high-quality vitamin B complex supplement (which contains all eight forms of B) into your daily regimen. When it comes to magnesium, just make sure to opt for magnesium orotate (32 mg per day) or magnesium taurate (125 mg per day)—the two forms the human body absorbs best.
While you’re at it, try to up your intake of foods rich in these nutrients. Tuna, chicken, and turkey offer up a good dose of B6. Fish, poultry, meat, and eggs are your best food sources of vitamin B12. And for more magnesium, reach for dark, leafy greens, nuts, and avocado.
2.) Ditch the toxic drugs. Evidence suggests there’s a very strong connection between RLS and prescription medications taken for depression. In fact, a 2018 study found that several popular antidepressants drugs—including venlafaxine—can “induce” or “worsen” RLS symptoms.4
Common, over-the-counter antihistamines used to combat seasonal allergies, including diphenhydramine (brand name Benadryl®), can also aggravate RLS.5
The good news is, there are many safe, effective alternatives that can help you combat depression and allergies—without resorting to drugs. (Search for natural solutions on my website, www.DrPescatore.com. You can also check out my Guide to an Allergy Free Life. Click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV3Y801.)
3.) Cut back on java. Many people find their RLS symptoms worsen when they drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages during the day. This may occur because caffeine arouses the central nervous system and increases “neuromuscular reactivity,” including the involuntary muscle twitching associated with RLS.6
If you think caffeine could be a trigger for you, too, consider going cold turkey for a few weeks. If your symptoms improve, you’ve got your answer.
Then, if you’re looking for a nice, non-stimulating replacement for coffee, try some warm herbal tea—or even warm water with lemon.
4.) Cut back on the booze. You may think having a nightcap or two can help you doze off quicker and avoid the nightly tossing and turning. But drinking alcohol before bed can actually disrupt your circadian rhythm (your natural wake-sleep cycle), adversely stimulate your central nervous system, and worsen RLS symptoms!7
So, if you’re going to have a drink, make sure to stop at least four hours before bed. And, if you still suffer from nightly symptoms, try going cold turkey for a few weeks to see if that helps.
5.) Try homeopathy. There are several homeopathic preparations on the market that have helped my patients with RLS, including one made by Hyland’s called Restful Legs®. I’ve also found that alpha-lipoic acid in divided doses of 900 mg per day can be effective.
6.) Engage in daily exercise. You know by now that I think routine exercise is the closest thing we’ve got to a “magic bullet” for good health. And now, research shows it even helps alleviate the symptoms of RLS!
In fact, in a recent, controlled, randomized trial, researchers divided 28 people with RLS into two groups.8 The first group followed a conditioning program three time a week that included aerobic exercise and lower-body resistance training. The control group continued with their routine activities.
It turns out, the exercise group experienced “significant improvement” in their RLS symptoms compared to the control group… after just 12 weeks!
6.) Try CBD. I’m not exaggerating when I say that cannabidiol (CBD) has transformed my medical practice. Plus, more and more evidence suggests CBD can help calm the central nervous system and provide relief to RLS sufferers.
In a recent study, researchers confirmed that patients with severe cases experienced “a remarkable and total remission of RLS symptoms” by using products that contain CBD.9 They also experienced a “complete improvement of sleep quality.”
The researchers think this approach worked so well because cannabinoids—the naturally occurring compounds found in CBD—exert “analgesic effects” that reduce sensations in the central nervous system.
So, why not give CBD a try? I recommend various forms of CBD, like capsules and balms, but I like CBD oil the best—because dosing can be individualized.
To find the dose that’s best for you, I recommend starting with a small amount of CBD oil. Then, work your way up until you find you can fall asleep easily… and STAY asleep for a full seven to nine hours… without struggling with RLS symptoms. This method is known as titration. (Plus, CBD is safe and non-addictive—meaning you can’t overdose on it.)
Just be sure to only ever use products made from full-spectrum hemp.
7.) Find a purpose. You may also want to take a step back and find ways to bring more meaning into your daily life. That’s because an interesting study conducted by researchers with Northwestern University found that people who live purpose-filled lives are 52 percent less likely to suffer from RLS in the first place! In addition, they noted that practicing mindfulness meditation can help one cultivate a life with purpose.10
Give your body time to adjust
The bottom line is that restless legs syndrome is very common among older people. But it isn’t something you should ever shrug off.
After all, it can lead to catastrophic health problems down the road, including heart attack and stroke.
So, give these seven natural, science-backed fixes a shot. The improvement won’t happen overnight, as it takes time for your body to adjust and recalibrate. But I find most my patients with RLS who follow these recommendations experience significant relief within about three months.
- “If You Notice This at Night, Your Heart Disease Risk Is Doubled.” BestLife, 6/22/21. (bestlifeonline.com/restless-leg-syndrome-news/
- “Association of restless legs syndrome and cardiovascular disease in the Sleep Heart Health Study.” Neurology 2008 70: 35-42. doi.org/10.1212/01.wnl.0000287072.93277.c9
- “Nocturnal blood pressure changes in patients with restless legs syndrome.” Neurology, 4/10/07; 68(15): 1213-8. doi.org.10.1212.01.wnl.0000259036.89411.52
- “The influence of antidepressants on restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements: A systematic review.” Sleep Med Rev. 2018 Apr;38:131-140. doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2017.06.002.
- “Common allergy medication worsens restless leg symptoms.” Science Daily, 4/4/16. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160404170433.htm)
- “Restless legs, anxiety and caffeinism.” J Clin Psychiatry. 1978 Sep;39(9):693-8. PMID: 690085.
- “8 Lifestyle Tweaks for Restless Legs Syndrome.” WebMD, 8/30/12. (webmd.com/brain/restless-legs-syndrome/features/restless-legs-syndrome-and-lifestyle)
- “Exercise and restless legs syndrome: a randomized controlled trial.” J Am Board Fam Med, 2006 Sep-Oct;19(5):487-93. doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.19.5.487.
- “More evidence of cannabis efficacy in restless legs syndrome.” Sleep Breath, 2020 Mar;24(1):277-279. doi.org/10.1007/s11325-019-01978-1.
- “Purpose in Life by Day Linked to Better Sleep at Night.” Neuroscience News, 7/10/17. (neurosciencenews.com/sleep-day-purpose-7055/)