WebMD describes restless legs syndrome as a nervous system disorder that causes an irresistible urge to move the legs. Most sufferers experience symptoms as a sleep disruption; however restless legs syndrome is not yet fully understood in the medical world and symptoms can appear any time.
What happens with someone with restless legs syndrome is an uncomfortable feeling in the legs combined with an extreme need to move them to relieve the sensation. It’s an awful, “creepy crawly” feeling, as described by those diagnosed with restless legs syndrome, most commonly associated with an itch and pins-and-needles. Sitting or lying down seems to worsen the symptoms as the body relaxes and the brain becomes more aware of the sensations. Many people have experienced some degree of restless legs syndrome in their lifetime, usually during puberty, but about 10% of the population in chronically affected. Women middle-aged or older are the most severely affected.
Restless legs syndrome can make it very hard to fall asleep, and will often wake people up several times during the night. It severely disrupts restful sleep, which can make the fidgety feeling much worse. As the mind focuses on the sensation it can increase the physiological symptoms. It can make a person tired and low-functioning, which can reduce feelings of sociability and result in loneliness and depression. Restful sleep is important to physical and mental well-being.
There are many ways to treat restless legs syndrome, including through iron and vitamin supplements, regular exercise, stretching and yoga, massage, heat and cold treatments, acupuncture, physical therapy, and prescription medications. Reducing the use of stimulants such as alcohol, nicotine and caffeine may also help. A weighted blanket for restless legs syndrome provides an additional option that is both holistic and personal. Completely customizable, Hippo Hug weighted blankets are handmade and constructed personally for you to provide the maximum amount of benefit with the most amount of comfort. At Hippo Hug we can create many customizations to our standard blanket to better serve individuals with restless legs syndrome, whether it be a full-size blanket with extra weight in the leg area or a blanket that has most of the weight on the bottom half and even blankets that are sized to fit just over the legs; we strive to find the right solution for you.
Weighted Blankets for Restless Legs Syndrome
A weighted blanket provides deep pressure stimulation that feels like a warm hug from a loved one. The weight of the blanket offers a constant, even contact that stimulates the body and the mind. Feelings of calmness are induced through the release of serotonin, increasing chances of rest, falling asleep, and staying asleep. Weighted blankets have also been shown to increase the production of melatonin, the chemical that regulates sleep processes.
The main reason why weighted blankets for restless legs syndrome work is because they cooperate with basic human nature. Being held and comforted feels good, which can put you in the right frame of mind to welcome relaxation and rest. A weighted blanket also works for restless legs syndrome by applying consistent, deep pressure to the legs so that the mind is less likely to want to move them in order to calm the nervous system in an attempt to reduce the sensations in the legs. It gives the user’s brain a chance to focus on the sensation of deep pressure rather than the restless legs syndrome symptoms and can stop the brain-body loop in which the physical sensation increases the brain’s awareness, which then signals the body to create the physical reaction thereby increasing the symptoms. The added weight around the legs helps quiet agitated nerves, which then relieves the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.
More About Why You Can’t Sleep
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, certain conditions frequently associated with restless legs syndrome are:
- Anemia or iron deficiency
- Kidney or renal failure
- Neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Sleep apnea or sleep deprivation
Some medications may make the symptoms worse, including certain types of:
- Antinausea medications
- Antipsychotic medications
Use of stimulants such as alcohol, nicotine and caffeine has also been associated with restless legs syndrome. It is also common for pregnant women in their third trimester. Restless legs syndrome is hereditary, so sometimes there is no reason for it to appear except for genetics.
Keep Good Sleep Habits
Practising good sleep habits are step one towards a proper night’s rest. Some tips for those with restless legs syndrome to fall asleep fast and stay asleep are:
- Going to bed at the same time every night
- Taking a bath before bedtime
- Applying heat or cold to the legs
- Using vibratory or electrical stimulation on the legs
- Keeping sleeping areas cool, calm and dark
- Avoiding stimulation such as television, smartphones, and tablets less than one hour before bedtime
To apply a cold pressure to your legs, put your weighted blanket in the freezer for 30 minutes before bed for a consistent cool feeling that fades as your relaxation increases.
What is the Right Size and Weight of Blanket for You?
Tips for choosing the weight of your weighted blanket:
- Don’t waste the weight! It’s not necessary to purchase a weighted blanket that will cover your entire bed, and you will end up paying for weight you don’t use.
- Be specific. If you don’t enjoy weight around your hips or ankles, let us know and we can create your blanket without weights in those areas.
- Research indicates that from 5 to 15% of body weight is the ideal range for a weighted blanket. Most prefer towards the higher end of the scale. Most sufferers of restless legs syndrome tend to prefer 10%+ with modifications made to ensure weight is concentrated in the leg area.
- Seniors might consider less weight in the 10- to 12-pound range. This is because strength tends to be lower and it is more challenging to independently use a weighted blanket that is much heavier even if body mass indicates a heavier blanket is possible.
Tips for choosing the size of your weighted blanket:
- For restless legs syndrome, as the area the weight should be concentrated on the legs a smaller blanket may be best. This also makes it easier to take the blanket from place to place.
- Most adults tend to choose a 40-70 inch. However, people with restless legs syndrome don’t always like having their whole body covered.
- A 30-40 inch weighted blanket is a good size for someone with restless legs syndrome as it will cover the legs and not much more. Most adults will need nine pounds or more to get the right level of deep pressure in this size.
- A 40-50-inch blanket is also good adults that don’t want their upper body covered or are looking for something easy to travel with.
We also carry a number of different fabric choices for you to customize your blanket to match your décor and personality.
How Hippo Hug Blankets are Different
Hippo Hug weighted blankets use a unique and proprietary weighting system involving specially designed disks so that the blanket has a low profile and looks just like a regular quilt. We use ceramic-coated metal disks instead of plastic pellets or glass beads, which will not shift or spill, making your blanket last longer. The blankets are fully washable, but like anything will experience wear with frequent washing. Most customers use their weighted blanket over a sheet or their regular bedding. Some choose to provide a twin size or larger duvet cover to us at Hippo Hug to modify to fit the blanket perfectly.
We also have several different types of blankets in stock if you would like to borrow one to try out. We want to make sure you get the perfect blanket for you. Contact us for more information!