Restless Leg Triggers

Yesterday I fell asleep as normal around 10.30pm, and then got woken up just after 1am with restless legs.  Actually it was restless legs and arms.  I find that if my restless legs are bad enough to wake me up, then it is 10x worse than having restless legs when awake.  Not only do I have the agony of the restless legs and arms, but also I am really really tired and just want to sleep – but I can’t.  Depriving someone of sleep when they are dog tired is a terrible thing to endure.  It really is 45 minutes of agony – as that is how long it takes for any medication to kick in once I take it.

Usually I take tramadol to control my restless legs – and had taken two (100mg) before I went to sleep – however obviously it wasn’t enough.  I know that tramadol for me usually takes at least an hour to have any effect, so as well as taking a tramadol I also took some acetaminophen + codeine.  These pills usually kick in within 30 to 40 minutes, and I wanted to stop the agony as quickly as I could.  In this case it did the trick – however unfortunately after 40 minutes although I was comfortable, I just wasn’t sleepy and couldn’t get back to sleep.  Argh.  Maybe it was the codeine, and I would’ve been better off just having acetaminophen.

I’ve blogged before that exercise and alcohol are common triggers for RLS.  I trained arms yesterday, and trained them hard so I wasn’t surprised that I ended up with RLS in my arms.  I get RLS in my triceps (never biceps) and I know that after a very hard tricep workout I have to be careful about getting RLS.  I find that I can help to avoid RLS if I keep my limbs warm, so I have these old long socks where I have cut the feet out, and I pull those over my calves at night.  However I don’t have anything for my arms.  Last night I woke up and my arms were outside the blankets, so my triceps were really cold – which didn’t help matters.  So was it just the workout that triggered the RLS?  Maybe not.

I read an interesting article today here.  The author has an interesting theory on why RLS occurs, and links it to one’s lymphatic system kicking in to get rid of toxins:

From a more natural and holistic approach one must consider what movement has to do with  relieving  a  symptom  and  why  suffers  of  restless  leg  syndrome  have  the  need  to move.  Muscle  movement  pumps  the  lymphatic  vessels,  which  moves  toxins  out  of  an area.  So  when  the  thigh  is  prompted  to  move,  the  contraction  of  the  muscle  literally pumps the body’s sewer system which is the lymphatic system. People with restless leg syndrome have an affinity for anything that is toxic to their body to affect the leg. What makes certain toxins affect a certain part of the body is unclear; however, it is identifiable and manageable.

I see the logic behind this and it appeals to me as I know that one of my triggers is alcohol – especially wine.  It makes sense that perhaps my body is trying to get rid of something that my body reacts to, through the lymph system.

Last night I had a large beef steak for dinner and I’m wondering if beef could be a trigger.  It made me recall that some other times that I’ve had very bad RLS has been after attending a BBQ.  You may recall that in my last blog about diet and psoriasis I linked to an article about “8 foods to avoid“.  On that list was red meat, because:

Red meats contain a polyunsaturated fat called arachidonic acid. “This type of fat can worsen psoriasis symptoms because it can easily be converted into inflammatory compounds

Maybe it is those inflammatory compounds which are flooding my legs and causing my muscles to contract so that my lymphatic system can pump them out?  I think I’ll keep a diary of when I eat beef and monitor the effects that night.

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