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
When you legs are hurting at night, the first step to treating thise aching legs is to identify potential causes. Here are some of the most common conditions that can potentially lead to aching legs:
- Leg pain during the night from peripheral arterial disease(PAD) is commonly called rest pain. Because gravity is no longer helping arterial blood reach your feet, causing severe pain.
- Aching legs during the night from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is related to high pressure in the veins and stagnant venous blood from sitting or standing all day. Proper daily leg elevation can help relieve this pressure.
- 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.
As soon as you step out of bed in the morning your veins are having to work against gravity, as the veins work to transport blood from our feet all the way up to our heart. This results in high pressure in the veins, stagnant venous blood flow, and swelling. The aching, heavy, tired feeling that you experience at the end of the day is related to this high venous pressure. Leg elevation, if done correctly, allows you to take advantage of gravity to lower the pressure in the veins, improve venous blood flow, and reduce swelling. However, if not done correctly it does not help and can even make things worse. Daily leg elevation for 15-20 minutes should be part of your daily routine for the health of your legs. Elevating your legs for 15- 20 minutes right before you go to sleep will give your legs a head start on removing the fluid that has accumulated in your legs during the day. It will also lower the pressure in your veins so that you can sleep comfortably and wake up with legs that feel rested and energized. Using a leg elevation pillow like the Lounge Doctor Leg Rest can help properly elevate your legs.
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.
About the Author
Kaki Zell - Vice President of Sales, Marketing, eCommerce at Legs-4-Life LLC
Dr. Chris Dickson, M.D., is a board-certified vascular surgeon and Fellow of the American College of Surgeons who received his M.D. Degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has received general surgery training from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Dr. Dickson has obtained two vascular fellowships and three research fellowships and has also has authored 19 publications and two book chapters. Since 1996, Dr. Dickson has been in practice in Greensboro, North Carolina.