Oy with the poodles already! This pregnancy has really put me through the wringer! From severe constipation (complete with worse hemorrhoids than I ever imagined possible – sorry, but it’s true), to a blotchy face, to constantly waffling between being on the verge of tears and wanting to rip everyone’s head off, to insomnia, exhaustion, and nausea that often only allows me to finish half a cup of coffee before I start feeling sick (and I LOOVE coffee! Ugh!). 🙁

But for the past month and a half or so, possibly the worst (I can’t even believe I’m actually about to say that there’s anything worse than not  drinking coffee) is Restless Leg Syndrome (a.k.a. RLS). I can go to bed ready to pass out the second my head hits my pillow, after walking around in a sleep deprived stupor all day…but 30 seconds after I lie down, my legs, which have apparently developed a mind of their own, insist that I move them, and refuse to just let me be still. They keep me up for hours and hours unable to relax and fall asleep.

10 tips for Managing Restless Leg Syndrome during pregnancy. | Running With Spears #RLS #homeremedy #essentialoils

After about the fifth night in a row of being awake more of the night than I was asleep, I decided I could no longer just passively hope to get rest at night and needed to take things into my own hands. RLS isn’t the only culprit, of course – there’s also my snoring husband, clingy co-sleeping toddler, excruciating charlie horses,  needing to pee every 3.9 seconds, plus of course the general lack of ability to get comfortable with a giant belly. 😉

I’ve taken steps to try to diminish as many of the malefactors as possible, but the one that’s been driving me the most insane is RLS, therefore that’s what I’m most obsessed with relieving.

Here are the things that seem to actually help:

1. Soaking in an Epsom Salt bath.  If I were to do nothing else, this is probably the one thing that would make the biggest difference. My personal “recipe” includes plenty of salt, a few drops of lavender essential oil, diffusing a relaxing oil blend such as Stress Away, and turning off all the lights except for my fake candles (I love the idea of candlelight, but not the smoke of burning real ones, plus I’m a klutz and might burn myself).

2. Massaging with PanAway.  It’s an essential oil blend of Wintergreen, Helichrysum, Clove, and Peppermint. I put it in a small pump bottle diluted with fractionated coconut oil and massage my calves with it before bed, and again as needed throughout the night. It’s also my biggest saving grace when I feel a charlie horse threatening. If I can massage the area with PanAway in time, it keeps my muscles from cramping up.

3. Taking a Calcium and Magnesium supplement. I’ve found a liquid supplement, taken before bed, works best for me.

4. Taking a (gentle on the stomach) Iron Supplement. As a note…you should totally check with your Dr. before adding supplements to you diet, especially when pregnant. I tend to be anemic so my OB encouraged me to add iron to my diet. I first tried just eating more iron rich foods, because I’ve already been struggling with the worst constipation ever, but he recommended going ahead and adding a supplement, and when I read that iron supplementation has benefits for RLS symptoms I finally gave in and started taking some.
I also take additional Folic Acid and a deficiency of that can contribute to RLS, too…just fyi.  🙂

5. Exercising – a bit. OK, I can’t honestly tell all that much whether it really makes much of a difference how active I am during the day beyond the typical chasing and cleaning up after three kids, plus third trimester nesting insanity…but I try to take the kids on walks when I can, or do some Just Dance on the Wii. Not too much, though. I can definitely tell when I’ve overdone it because then I have more trouble with leg cramps during the night….so, yeah.

6. Stretching. I’ve started stretching my calves when I’m relaxing in the bath and it definitely helps.

Essential Oils to help Restless Leg Syndrome. | Running With Spears #RLS #EssentialOils #YoungLiving
7. Applying Lavender essential oil.
RLS  is a sleep related disorder, so anything that can improve sleep is also a good idea. I put undiluted lavender oil on my neck, writs, and behind my ears just before lying down, and again during the night if I’m wide awake. (Also, I recently read an article about How to Grow Lavender  in case any of you want to make your own oils, or bath bombs, or anything, with fresh lavender. )

8. Diffusing relaxing essential oils. I’ve started moving my diffuser to my bedroom at night. Misteris isn’t a big fan of lavender so I don’t often diffuse it. I typically stick with my go-to relaxation blend, Stress Away, though I’ve just ordered some Gentle Baby to try as well.

9. Consuming cinnamon. This one is difficult to tell for sure if it actually does anything, but cinnamon is supposed to help regulate blood sugar, and blood sugar crashing can be a cause of insomnia. Plus I like an excuse to eat a couple cinnamon candies (with cinnamon oil) during the day. 😉
– In all seriousness, this is an awesome warm milk and cinnamon drink that’s relaxing to have before bed.

10. Keeping my Kindle handy. If all else fails, my Kindle is (almost) always charged and ready on my bedside table. I used to think if I was lying awake in bed I’d just browse Facebook or something mindless on my phone for a few minutes rather than getting involved in a book that I might not want to put down, but the light from my phone actually makes me more awake, and I can read a book in night mode without having that problem. Even if I do accidentally get caught up in a good book, it’s still a lot less torturous than just tossing and turning for hours unable to sleep.

Bonus tips: I put a nightlight in my bathroom so I don’t have to turn on the light every time I get up to pee, and started using the new nursing pillow I ordered from Blessed Nest to support my tummy, which is working way better than any of the giant pregnancy pillows I’ve tried.

Edited to add – My sister is pregnant now and RLS has been a problem for her, too! She said a number of these tips helped her, especially the oils, and also her midwife recommended she take a turmeric supplement  and that helped, too! 😀 

I’ve found if I do ALL THE THINGS every day I’m able to sleep much  better at night and have significantly less trouble with RLS…most of the time. That is, if I miraculously don’t’ have to get up to pee every 2 seconds, and my skin isn’t too itchy, Apple isn’t crushing my lungs too much, and the moon’s not full…but whatever. I actually had like three nights in a row of pretty good sleep. It was practically a miracle.

What is, or was, your worst sleep disrupter during pregnancy? I’d LOVE to hear any sleep tips you have! I’m so tired of being exhausted (Wah-wah-wah. Aren’t I *punny?* Yeah ok, sorry…I’m just gonna go drink some coffee now.) 😉


10 tips for Managing RLS during Pregnancy

14 thoughts on “10 tips for Managing RLS during Pregnancy

    • February 22, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      I’ve not tried chia seeds, thanks for the info, I’ll have to look into it! 😀

      • January 19, 2017 at 9:11 am

        So I DID try chia seeds, and they seemed to really help with constipation, yay! Thanks! 🙂

  • February 22, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    You know, when I was pregnant with my last daughter, my legs gave me so many problems! These are some good tips. There were some stretching exercises that really helped me, as well. Hope you get complete relief!

  • May 28, 2016 at 5:38 am

    I suffered with RLS during my pregnancy, but I deduced that it was exacerbated by eating anything sugary and/or eating to excess (I. E actually finishing an entire meal!).

  • May 2, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I endured RLS since I was 7 yrs old, but when I got pregnant… I just wasn’t able to sleep much at all! I tried so many things (no caffeine, which I wasn’t drinking anyway, stretching, exercise, bananas, lavender oil massaged into the calves, etc). It wasn’t until I rubbed magnesium oil onto the bottom of my feet, 3-5 drops for each foot, before bedtime and it was down right miraculous! What I had suffered with for over 20 yrs was gone in an instant! Woo hoo!

  • November 5, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Sounds weird but Vick’s vapor rub on your feet works for me.

    • November 5, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Oooh interesting! Thanks so much for sharing the tip! 🙂

  • December 15, 2017 at 4:55 am

    I have suffered with RLS for 30 years. Acquired it when pregnant with my son. I am tired of taking medication. Have to take it an hour before I sit down. Which is usually around 6pm. It makes me drowsy so my evenings are worthless. I have tried many alternatives but nothing works. I am willing to try some of the ones in this post. We shall see.

    • December 15, 2017 at 9:36 am

      I’m so sorry! I hope something here helps. I also just saw that Hylands has a tablet called “Restful Legs” with a homeopathic recipe that is supposed to help that I think I’ll try myself next time I have trouble.

  • February 1, 2018 at 12:53 am

    I have found what helps a lot is the chair that you might be sitting in .I have went threw a lot of them now to find the best ones that don’t bother my legs in the day, but then you have the nights they are bad I find getting down on my knees on a pillow helps when they really seem to hurt so that I can’t take the pain .I have been a lot of testing to see what days they seem to hurt the most but so have come up with nothing to help my nights …

  • June 16, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    Bless you, bless you for these tips! I am currently in the second trimester, and my restless legs have been such a pain to deal with. I will definitely be talking to my doctor about adding in some additional supplements (especially magnesium), but I’m concerned about the constipating effect of magnesium. I’m already taking daily Benefiber because with my last pregnancy I got so constipated afterward I had to go to the ER for help (so. much. fun. let me tell you). I’m terrified of dealing with that again, so I got started on Benefiber early this time and will be amping up the Colace and water toward the end of the pregnancy. Anyway, enough about constipation…

    I currently have a nighttime routine where I rub Cedarwood essential oil on my wrists in preparation for sleep. I prefer using it to Lavender because it has always helped me relax better. I occasionally use Stress Away in my diffuser at night but need to be more diligent about that. And about the only thing I’ve found that has really given me results when I’m dealing with RLS (usually centered around my thighs rather than calves) has been rubbing 3 drops magnesium oil on each thigh when I’m getting ready for bed. The magnesium oil probably has the same effect as adding a magnesium supplement, I’d imagine, but I might ask the doctor about it anyway.

    That warm milk and cinnamon drink sounds good… I’ll have to try that. I’m having milk at night anyway because of wonderful pregnancy heartburn. So yeah – all in all, getting all my symptoms in as early as I can. Haha. Thanks again for this post! I appreciate it!

  • September 30, 2018 at 5:16 am

    Hey Heather!

    First of all, I love that you opened this post with a Gilmore Girls reference! I am under 2 weeks away from my due date with my second child while still blogging over at Eclectically Ema (how you are managing pregnancy and 3 children is amazing!!!!). Last night had to be the worst case of RLS that I have ever had. So definitely taking on board all these amazing tips you have suggested in this post. I have found that making sure I have a good amount of padding between my legs like a pillow and the quilt helps! It makes get work for you if you feel the need to reach for the kindle.


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