Nagging leg discomfort when you lie down to sleep can keep you awake. Tossing and turning all night is no way to spend your nighttime hours. Looking at the clock and hoping for the best doesn’t cut it when you can’t sleep. You may not even realize your leg discomfort keeps you awake- you just know that it’s impossible to get comfortable. Let’s look at why you may suffer from aching legs when lying down and how to get your zzzs again.
What Disorders Cause Aching Legs?
Many different disorders can cause leg aches or irritation. When you are busy and moving around, it is easy to discount leg aches or other discomforts. However, when laying down, your leg discomfort can irritate you. Disorders causing leg discomfort include:
Peripheral Artery Disease
According to Johns Hopkins, “the classic symptoms of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) are cramplike leg muscle fatigue or heaviness, and discomfort or pain that occurs in the buttocks, thigh or calf muscles while walking or climbing stairs. The pain typically ceases five to 10 minutes after you rest or stop the activity. Also be on the lookout for symptoms such as numbness, tingling and weakness.”
When your body lacks electrolytes, you may feel achy or develop cramps in your legs. Dehydration causes altered signals between your nerves and muscles. Some common electrolytes your body needs to prevent imbalances include sodium chloride (salt), potassium, and magnesium. Many sports drinks can contain electrolytes, but watch out for excess sugar or artificial sweeteners that may also cause problems for your bodily systems. There are disorders of the adrenal glands that can alter your ability to sustain the proper balance.
Injuries and Exercise
Injuries such as bone fractures or severe stress on your muscles can cause achiness as your legs heal. A specific incident can cause this pain, or it could result from not moving much and then starting an intense exercise program. Exercise builds muscle and bone density, but you can feel achy if you start too fast with your program. Anytime your body is building muscle and bone or healing muscle and bone, your legs may cause you discomfort when you lie down.
Varicose veins often make people want to “put their feet up.” According to The Feet People, “Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen and twisted veins that are the result of poor circulation, and are particularly common in people with fluid retention issues. This means the veins aren’t working as well as they should, so over the course of the day, the pressure in your leg can increase from leaky valves or weakened vein walls. This creates an aching pain and heavy feeling in your legs, which worsens at night after a day spent mostly on your feet.” Elevating your feet after a long day before going to bed can help you sleep better.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Do you feel odd tingles or sensations in your legs that make you want to move when you lie down? Do you toss and turn because you feel discomfort in your legs? If you suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS), you may feel exhausted, but your legs feel ready to run a marathon. “People with restless legs syndrome have unusual feelings in their legs (like itching, crawling, pulling, aching, throbbing, or pins and needles) and a powerful urge to move their legs to make the sensations go away.” (3)
Restless legs syndrome is a known neurological disorder, also considered a sleep disorder, that can keep you up at night. RLS can happen to anyone, but your chances of suffering from this disorder increase as you grow older. More women than men struggle with RLS, and pregnancy can often make RLS worse. Possible causes or disorders related to RLS include:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Parkinson’s disease or other dopamine disorders
- Kidney disease,
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Medications such as antidepressants and antihistamines
No matter what causes your restless legs syndrome, treatments are available to help you sleep well again. Medications, eating well, changing your bedtime, and watching for what triggers your symptoms can help you feel relaxed when you are lying down.
We Can Help
At Enticare, we specialize in sleep disorders. If your legs ache when you lie down, we can help you find solutions so that you can feel relaxed instead. Without nagging symptoms keeping you awake, you can get the refreshing sleep you need and wake up with energy again. We’ve seen the worst cases of RLS recede with the right therapies. If you just can’t get comfortable at night, set up an appointment with our sleep clinic and start finding answers. We all need a good night’s sleep to function well. Contact us today and find out how we can help you start feeling good again.