Restless Leg Syndrome is a sleep-robber.
Apart from being an excellent excuse to kick your partner out of bed when they're taking up too much room, Restless Leg Syndrome sucks.
Here's the real kicker. Doctors don't know how to fix it.
So, you turn to the internet for some frantic cure-seeking. Only to discover RLS support forums filled with wildly contradictory information and colourful home remedies.
It's so easy to get lost in desperation for answers and lose grip of the real problem: lack of sleep.
Weighted blankets are not a fad or a magic cure, but they can help improve the quality of your sleep.
That sounds good, right?
And healthy sleeping habits and living a healthier lifestyle are fundamentals that can help reduce the impact of RLS.
Let's cover some basics.
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome & Why Does It Exist?
RLS is a loner :(
A disorder that nobody fully understands and that the medical world appears to have abandoned.
It's not technically a disorder - it's a syndrome.
In other words, a vague diagnosis that gives doctors something to say.
Society's picture of RLS is painted rather poorly too.
It's almost like it was done by a five-year-old (no offence to five-year-olds).
On the topic of painting, let's get creative and use our imaginations to paint a better picture...
Everything you do is managed by one part of your body - your brain.
Welcome to Brain City
Close your eyes and imagine your brain is a city. On second thoughts, keep your eyes open, or you won't be able to read the rest of the article.
Your brain is organised - even if you're not.
Brain City is divided into different areas and districts based on the body activities they control. For example, The Cognition Town, the Hunger Centre, the Reflex Estate etc.
Each area in Brain City is connected by train lines.
These trains (or neurons) carry different messages around the city, working together to perform activities.
For example, whenever you want to raise your right arm into the air, your brain cells fire up and send a train through the city to the Arms District, Right Arm Street.
With Restless Leg Syndrome, what's happening is that something is incorrectly telling the brain to move the legs, but the trains aren't running.
That creates stress, discomfort, pain, and an uncontrollable urge to keep moving the legs and other parts of the body.
This could be caused, for example, by an iron deficiency or lack of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in the body's movement.
RLS Isn't Exclusive to The Legs
This time, the clue isn't in the name. The urges do not discriminate!
Typically, the condition surfaces with twitching legs, violent and sudden kicks and an endless desire to rub the feet together.
However, Restless Leg Syndrome can also cause the entire body discomfort.
This includes jostling your head around, flapping your arms, and clenching your jaw and muscles around the neck.
Your body will NOT thank you for some of that in the morning.
A Negative Relationship With Sleep
For most people, a bed is a safe space and the home of peacefulness, rest, solace and pleasure.
RLS sufferers have to have an argument with their own bodies every night.
After several months of physical discomfort and stress, their safe spaces are snatched away from under their noses.
Bedrooms become a place of resentment, and it's nearly impossible not to associate bedtime with torment and discomfort.
Not surprisingly, RLS can push intimate relationships to breaking point.
But what about the unhealthy relationship with sleep?
That's where weighted blankets can help.
Will A Weighted Blanket Stop Me From Moving So Much?
It's fair to assume throwing a heavy blanket over your legs would hamper movement and make for an even more uncomfortable experience.
However, many RLS sufferers who have tried a weighted blanket say that it does not feel uncomfortable yet significantly reduces the amount of movement.
There aren't any studies exploring the effects of weighted blankets on RLS specifically, but there are tons of positive experiences shared online by real-world users.
In fact, from a quick Google search, you'll find that most users felt instant relief from discomfort.
Some RLS sufferers find them ineffective (but still comfortable). There are very few complaints of them making matters worse.
By creating a distraction for the nervous system, reducing stress, and improving sleep quality, weighted blankets are a fantastic, completely natural tool to try if you struggle with restless legs.
How to Choose A Weighted Blanket for RLS
No two cases of restless leg syndrome are equal, and the same can be said for weighted blankets.
Whether you're buying one for yourself or a friend or family member, you'll need to know what to look out for.
Here's my list of the most important points to consider when buying a weighted blanket for RLS.
1. Even Weight Distribution
You can't cut corners with this one.
If you don't purchase a weighted blanket with an even distribution of weight, you'll have a bad time.
Not a single section should sag or bunch up from corner to corner.
When you roll over or move the blanket, the pressure should adjust naturally to your position.
If the filling of the blanket starts to bunch up and fall into the corners, the blanket is poorly made.
How can I tell if the weight is evenly distributed?
Blankets with quilted pockets are designed to guarantee an even distribution of weight.
If each pocket is filled evenly with weight and sealed, the weight cannot move around or fall to one side.
The smaller the pockets, the better.
We use small quilted pockets filled with teeny-tiny glass beads to create an even spread of weight in our blankets.
Bad quality blankets are packed with plastic beads that have the freedom to move anywhere.
Glass beads are heavier than plastic pellets and much smaller too.
They make for a thinner and more breathable blanket.
Blankets made with plastic beads are usually bulkier and make a lot more noise.
The filling shouldn't affect the therapeutical benefits of the blanket, though.
Organic cotton and natural materials are the most breathable fabrics. Polyester is denser and will make you warmer - plus, it's worse for the environment.
If you're worried about getting too hot, make sure you look out for a blanket made from cotton.
Or, even better, a double-sided blanket or a blanket with a removable cover.
We strongly recommend trying a weighted blanket.
Hundreds of people with RLS claim that their weighted blankets help them sleep better, feel calmer and reduce pain.
But remember, weighted blankets aren't a medically backed treatment, and they aren't made of magic.
They are a therapeutical tool to help alleviate the symptoms that make Restless Leg Syndrome so challenging to live with.
If you're going to buy one, consider the fabric and the blanket's construction first and foremost.
Got questions or want to share your own experiences? Drop a comment below, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Read more blogs like this in our weighted blankets resource section.