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What Do You Do in the Middle of the Night With RLS?

Lately, I have been plagued with restless legs syndrome (RLS) at 3 AM. It wakes me up, and I can’t get back to sleep.

So what is a person to do? Kick the blankets around like a cranky 2-year old? Midnight aerobics? Learn kickboxing? It is a question I wonder for sure as I throw myself out of bed in a fit of frustration.

Can I run and never stop?

Sometimes I am so antsy I feel like I should immediately go run a spontaneous marathon – that running and never stopping is the only actual solution. I certainly have tried aggressively shaking one leg and then the other. That, by the way, does absolutely nothing.

Since running non-stop is not actually a solution at any time of day, I have to find alternative distractions.

Taking my medication

Immediately take some medication. I start with ½ a pill and go up if that doesn’t do anything. This is in the hope that I might actually get back to sleep before dawn. I really don’t care if my sleep is broken up into 2 segments as long as those 2 segments add up to 8 hours.

Avoiding temptation

As it turns out, watching cable TV is a very poor option at this time unless you really like those long "shows" that are really infomercials of products no one really needs, but at 3 AM may actually tempt you. For 10 easy payments of $19.99, you too can have this extra kitchen device you will never actually use.

Things I do in the middle of the night

Watch something interesting but not too interesting

I try to find something on Netflix that I can play without paying too much attention, so not something I really, really want to binge. Rather something I am somewhat interested in but won’t care if I skip along. In this way, if my medication actually kicks in and I crash on the couch, no harm, no foul. This tends to be a documentary series I’m watching. I can always go back and watch those missed episodes anyway.

Pick up a distracting hobby

I do one of my hobbies to distract me from that crawling RLS. So creative writing, reading, or drawing – something along those lines that takes enough concentration to hopefully draw attention away from all those sensations. I do not really recommend an awesome book because that does backfire sometimes. I have (accidentally, mind you), continued to read a great book well beyond dealing with the RLS and then finished that book somewhere past dawn. So you do have to choose your distractions wisely. Sometimes I get way too involved in them.

Light cleaning

Sometimes I will do some light cleaning, which sounds like a weird thing to do at that time, but that insane need for motion drives that. And I think if I move around a bit, it might just relieve the RLS faster. I will, at times, add in some leg and arm stretches in there if I feel it might help. I do this less often because these tend to wake me up more, and I want to keep it mellow so I have a chance of falling back to sleep.

Sometimes I simply start my day

Frankly, there are times when I end up just starting my day at that time when all else fails. Then I will end up taking a brief nap in the afternoon. The only reason this even works as a sleeping pattern at all is that I am not currently working. If I were working, well, I would just have to deal with a whole lot of sleep deprivation, again, as usual.

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