Can Concentrating on RLS Make It Worse?

Last updated: October 2022

One thing that intrigues me about my RLS is what triggers it.

Is it an unconscious thing, or can it be activated by simply thinking about the feeling that envelopes your legs at the time of commencement?

Could focusing on my RLS actually trigger it?

One night whilst sitting on my own I decided to inadvertently torture myself. Focusing solely on my legs, I reimagined the disconcerting sensation that first welcomes the onset of an episode. Thankfully it wasn't too hard, and almost immediately they gave me the answer I was looking for; nope, no need to go and dance the tango for relief.

Later on that night, I was lying in bed wriggling around trying to find some modicum of comfort. When the sleep specialists tell you to change your bed every 8 years, they aren't joking! I think it must be sooner for RLS sufferers, as we fidget so badly!

With my body resembling a starfish at that point, my subconscious picked up a twinge. Instantly acknowledged and dismissed, I began pleading with anyone who would listen that the disturbance in my lower calf was not what I thought it was... oh, please no!

Trying to relax with a hot Epsom salt bath

One of the hardest things to do is to trick your brain into ignoring something it has obviously picked up on. You begin bargaining with it. 'No, you're imagining it, it was just a muscle tweak,' or 'I'll sacrifice my doughnut that I was going to buy tomorrow if this enigma isn't what I imagine it is.'

Although it was heading close to midnight, I began running a bath. Reading the instructions on the side of my newly purchased Epsom salts, the ratio seemed pretty high, emptying the entire bag into an ankle-high amount of hot water. Some serious soaking began, a bath pillow lodged in the crook of my neck, breathing exercises in full flow, trying to relax every atom of my being.

Triggering an RLS attack in full force

Fifteen minutes into my routine, my subconscious stuck two fingers up at me by full-on acknowledging that my leg nearly hit the ceiling with a sudden urge that surprised even me — especially seeing as it was my body that was doing it! It had been confirmed! An RLS attack in full force.

Once the floodgates had opened, it was like a tsunami of unwanted movements had forced themselves upon me — legs flailing, arms joining in for the fun of it, even fingers needing stretching to try and alleviate the tension.

It was like I had angered the beast

That night was one of the worst RLS attacks I had experienced in a long time. It was like I had angered the beast by attempting to bring one on at my own will, instead of allowing it to creep up on me like it usually did.

The aftermath continued for 2 days. I was unable to shake the creepy feeling in my legs during the day, and occasionally my arms would build up the sensation to the point that I had no choice but to move them.

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