About ten years ago, when those TV ads for prescription medications to treat something called “Restless Legs Syndrome” started appearing on TV, I guffawed. This had to be a joke, I thought. Maybe it was some kind of satirical send-up of big pharma advertising. (Apparently I wasn’t the only one to have this reaction.)
These days, however, I am no longer cracking jokes about “RLS,” because starting in my pregnancy with C, 4 years ago, I started having symptoms of it – the very same symptoms described in those TV ads I once found so amusing.
Apparently, many people first start experiencing RLS symptoms during a pregnancy, and during my pregnancy with C, my own discomfort at night was really, really unpleasant. I would wake Jon up and beg him to rub my lower legs and feet vigorously, because that was the one thing that actually helped. But obviously, he couldn’t do that all night, every night, so when the tingling and jerky sensations in my lower legs would begin soon after I’d hit the sack each night, I’d bounce up and down into and out of a hot bath. I would rub tingly things like cooling gel on my legs, hoping that would help. I tried wrapping my legs up in Ace bandages at night, to see if that would help. It was AWFUL.
The symptoms improved markedly after C was born, and weren’t even a fraction as unpleasant during my next pregnancy, with G. But they’ve never totally gone away. I clearly have a mild case of RLS, and some nights are a lot worse than others. For example, I’ve found that if I take any sort of cold medicine or antihistamine, I am going to pay for it during the night with creepy crawly legs.
In the past week or two, the old RLS symptoms flared up a bit, so I posted something about it on Facebook. A bunch of my friends responded, offering ideas to try for alleviating the symptoms. One idea that came up repeatedly was to place a fresh bar of soap between the fitted sheet and the mattress on my bed, near where my legs are when I am asleep.
Obviously, this sounded like crazytalk. Soap? Under the sheets? Huh? But I was intrigued because so many people seemed to be saying it would help, so if course I consulted Dr. Google, and found that many people claim that this bizarro home remedy inexplicably works to make RLS symptoms way better.
So a few nights ago, after tossing and turning with unpleasant sensations in my legs, I got up, and I went and located a bar of soap in our bathroom. I stuffed it under my fitted sheet, near where my legs would be located after I got back in bed. And then I tried to go back to sleep.
Within fifteen minutes, my legs had completely stopped tingling. I no longer felt the need to wiggle them around. I feel asleep. And that’s how it’s been every night since I stuck that bar of soap under my sheet. NO MORE RESTLESS LEGS!
So how weird is this? I honestly don’t think this is a placebo effect; I believe that my symptoms were real, and that they have really stopped starting within an hour of me trying this home remedy that makes absolutely no sense at all. I’ve been trying to figure out HOW this could possibly work, and I can’t. All I can tell you is that so far, it does.
Any thoughts on this little mystery? How could soap under a sheet near one’s legs have any impact whatsoever on a medically recognized condition, likely related to brain chemistry. Do you think I am imagining that it’s helping? Tell me what you think about my home remedy success story in the comments below.
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