RLS in a Heatwave Summer

I read from restless legs syndrome (RLS) groups that RLS can be worse in either extreme temperatures: hot or cold. For some, it is the cold, and for others, the heat. We all have to learn our own triggers

For me, it is all about the discomfort that comes from being too hot and uncomfortable. Or too humid and hot. When it gets to that point, almost anything can bother me, from the texture of my clothes or how heavy my blankets are.

Summer heat is a common trigger

Some research done via internet data search queries found that restless legs syndrome (RLS) symptoms do actually get more severe in the summer regardless of geographic locations.1 That does suggest it is a pretty common trigger for a lot of us.

How heatwaves affect me

We are having a heatwave this year, and as a Canadian, I’m not digging it at all. Over the years, it has gotten hotter in the summers to the point living without air conditioning is becoming a real problem. It is just so hot it gives everyone a headache being in their houses with this heat, but for me, with migraine disease, pretty much a constant migraine.

Sweltering heat like that, and I can’t sleep if my life depended on it. And that is not even mentioning the fact the RLS gets so aggravated. In fact, the RLS will wake me up repeatedly at night and I find I am taking so much more medication to suppress it.

How I manage the summer heat and RLS

  1. We had a portable air conditioner and it wasn’t sufficient for our house or to help me sleep. But it was way better than just fans. So we had to get a built-in air conditioner for the house. It turns out you can rent them, so we had one installed and rent it, which saves us from paying outright. It was necessary because I just wasn’t sleeping due to my insomnia and the severe RLS. The lack of sleep made my migraines more intense and frequent. So it was well worth it.
  2. I also cool down with a bath at night. This helps in a few ways since I also add Epsom salts or magnesium oil to the water. And a bath is one way to relax at night.
  3. If I need to, in the middle of the night, if I wake up hot or uncomfortable, I put a cooling pad on my legs to just ice them down a bit. If cold is a trigger, people tend to go for heating pads instead.
  4. I also have a fan running in the bedroom all night long. This may seem excessive now that I have an air conditioner, but it is to just circulate the air around and feel a nice breeze.
  5. If I wake up uncomfortably hot due to core temperature, I do something I used to do when I got a lot of sleep paralysis. I get up and run my hands under cold water and splash my face with the cold water. It just cools me down a bit. I may also go drink some cold water from the fridge.

Keeping a cool, dark bedroom

The fact is, sometimes I am hot because of this neverending heatwave we have going on. Other times I just have no internal temperature control due to hypothyroidism or other regular hormonal fluctuations every month.

Either way, I want to manage the temperature in the bedroom. When I was young with insomnia, I learned that a nice cool, dark room is the best climate to induce sleep. If you are too cold, it is so much easier to snuggle under the blankets than if you are insanely hot. It is also the best environment for my RLS if I can sustain it as well.

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