5 Ways to Relieve Aching Legs at Night
You’ve brushed your teeth, put on your pajamas, turned off the light and crawled in bed. You close your eyes, ready to drift off to sleep… but your aching legs won’t let you get some shut-eye. Whether this condition is temporary or chronic, tired, aching legs at night are very common— and frustrating. Thankfully, there are multiple steps you can take to refresh your legs and boost your sleep quality. Below, we briefly explain possible causes of aching legs before diving into five solutions that can help you manage your symptoms.
Causes of Aching Legs
The first step to treating aching legs at night is to identify potential causes. Here are some of the most common conditions that can potentially lead to aching legs:
- Conditions that impact your circulation — including varicose and spider veins, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and peripheral arterial disease — can potentially cause aching legs. These conditions slow down your circulation, which means new nutrients aren’t being delivered to your legs as often as they should, making them feel tired and achy.
- Swelling can also cause aching legs. The extra fluid retention puts added pressure on your lower body, making it feel heavy. It can also put pressure on your veins, slowing your circulation and further exacerbating the problem.
- Nervousness and restless leg syndrome usually result in legs that feel heavy, jittery and shaky. Moving usually helps shake out these symptoms (more on solutions in the next section).
- Sore or stiffness in your legs can also keep you up at night. These may be due to a variety of causes, everything from an arthritis flare-up to a hard leg workout.
How to Relieve Aching Legs at Night
If restless leg syndrome strikes, a quick but light massage is often enough stimulation to make symptoms go away. However, if sore muscles are the cause of your tired legs, a deeper massage will better help dissipate some of the soreness. You can give yourself a massage using your hands or a foam roller or book a treatment with a professional massage therapist if you’d like to treat yourself.
A warm bath or shower before bed will help you feel drowsy and further ease sore muscles. Heat packs can also be used to target especially sore muscles or stiff joints. However, if swelling is your main problem, you’ll want to use cold therapy instead. Cold constricts your blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the area and discouraging fluid retention, which helps swelling subside.
In some cases, physical movement might be the cause of your tired, aching legs, but in specific contexts it can really help. In particular, a brief walk to the bathroom or kitchen can help dispel restless leg syndrome if a quick massage doesn’t do the trick. In that case, just getting out of bed can make your symptoms disappear.
Gravity is our friend in many ways, but after a long day of standing or sitting, it can have negative effects on your health. Gravity pulls down on blood and other fluids, causing them to pool in your lower legs and leading to swelling and reduced circulation. Laying down for 15-20 minutes at the end of the day with your legs above your heart will allow the fluid to drain from your legs and improve your circulation. Your legs will feel well-rested and energized at the end of your session. For proper support and positioning, we suggest investing in a leg elevation pillow.
The best way to treat symptoms is to prevent them from appearing in the first place, and that’s where compression therapy comes in. While in most cases compression garments usually shouldn’t be worn to bed, wearing them during the day can help prevent the symptoms that cause tired, aching legs and keep you up at night. Compression socks boost circulation and reduce swelling, which will help your legs feel good at the end of the day.
Aching legs are a downright pain, but with the right combination of prevention tips and symptom management, you can keep them from disturbing your beauty sleep anymore. Follow these strategies to relieve your aching legs at night, and we wish you sweet dreams.