a woman pacing the halls of her home at night

Night-Walker's Syndrome and 10,000 Steps

How do you cope with severe restless legs syndrome (RLS) symptoms late at night? When they wake you up with their insane sensations, and you simply cannot get back to sleep?

You have to get up. There is simply no choice about that fact. What do you do?

Night-walker's syndrome

I came across the term "night-walker′s syndrome." I do not think it is used anymore, but it really fits for me so I rather like it. Here is the reference:

They are also especially troublesome in the late evening when patients are getting into bed. Sensations may last for hours but may also persist, with interruptions, in some unfortunate sufferers, until 3, 4, or 5 AM. Patients often have to get up and walk around many times to obtain relief. This form of coping behaviour has been named 'Night-walker's syndrome.' Loss of sleep is a serious consequence both to patients and their spouses.1

Lately, it is not only a real feat for me to get to sleep and stay that way, but I definitely have issues with waking up and being unable to fall asleep, as well as daytime symptoms.

Coping and pacing

There is this physiotherapy I have to do for vestibular rehabilitation. I have vertigo, and the therapy involves walking 5 rapid paces, turning quickly, walking 5 rapid paces, and then turning rapidly again. 5 laps. Repeated 5 times. That is a lot of pacing.

The funny thing about that pacing is that when my feet start getting all antsy, if I do this exercise, I find relief in it. As a result, yeah, I have found myself pacing when my RLS starts acting up. Right when those ants start crawling under my skin.

When my RLS is painful, I must get up

And late at night, when I just can't sleep, and the RLS is painful, well, I have to get up. I feel like I have to move. When I am in bed, my feet and toes are sort of curling up in this cramping pose anyway. It is a relief to engage in some really fast pacing, turning, pacing, turning.

It feels like an exercise in madness. If you saw someone furiously pacing like that at 3 AM, you'd think they have some serious issue on their mind. Well, at least I am not waving madly in the air and muttering to myself. That might look a lot worse. Not that they were trying to run away from their own feet, which I am.

Medications, lotions, and pacing

I also take another half of my levodopa, but I do have to wait for that to actually kick in. And I also have a magnesium body butter that really absorbs well into the skin that I rub into my feet and legs. I have no idea if that does anything at all since I have had no success with magnesium, but I am willing to give it a go at the same time.

And then I pace. And pace. And pace. Until everything settles down and, hopefully, I can get some rest. Sometimes.

Raising my step count night after night

So night-walker's syndrome is really apt for me at this current time. I know I am used to levodopa and need new medication.

However, by the time I talk to my neurologist, I think I will be up to that 10,000 steps a day. Well, 10,000 steps a night. And have calves of steel.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RestlessLegsSyndrome.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.
poll graphic

Community Poll

How often do your RLS symptoms affect your mood?