Ferritin and Restless Leg Syndrome: Natural Remedies

After about 3 weeks of regular iron supplementation, I started to notice a difference in my son's sleep patterns. He wasn't waking nearly as much, he had stopped kicking/bucking his legs, stopped traveling all over the bed, and didn't want to nurse all night long as he had before. He also started to fall asleep in about 15 -20 minutes versus two hours of running around the house. He was still waking once or twice, but this was a huge improvement from every other hour. Now, at a little over two years old, he is for the most part sleeping through the night and I am so relieved (and well-rested!). He can now tell me when his legs hurt -- which is only every once in a while. I have found that times like, after eating chocolate or going to bed later than usual (overtired) brings out the symptoms, so I am aware and try to mitigate that risk.

As someone who doesn't like to medicate my myself or my child unless it is absolutely necessary, I have searched for ways to help my son with his restless leg syndrome without the use of drugs. Since I don't have restless leg syndrome myself and he can't tell me exactly what might help him, I rely on my own research. I hope that passing some of my successes with natural remedies on, I might be able to help others. I plan to update this list as necessary so I'm keeping it to a list format.

While reading through some of my recommendations, please keep in mind that RLS Symptoms are more prevalent at night so many of my recommendations are night-time ritual changes.

Weighted blankets
Weighted blankets can help people with restless leg symptoms. Although they can be expensive, I've found a great etsy store that offers these blankets at a reasonable price called hugsbythepound.

Baby Legs
I've also read that wearing socks can help. This is just one small adjustment that helped him at night. He also loves what most people think they are just cute little leg warmers,BabyLegs. In summer months he wears them alone and in winter months I put them right over his PJ pants.

Nightly Bath Routine
We shifted from every other night baths to a warm bath every single night before bed, warm water can help the effects of RLS.

Sacrum Massage
Once he is in bed, I sometimes massage his sacrum with my forefinger and middle finger in circular motion. I also apply even pressure to his sacrum for 5 second intervals and sometimes it puts him right to sleep. The sacrum is the large, triangular-shaped bone at the base of your spine.

Hot Water Bottle
Sometimes before bed especially on cold winter nights, I prepare a hot water bottle to place near his feet and legs. 

Hydration
Hydration seems to help a lot. His drink of choice during the day is water, so I am be sure to offer him often. I now remind him that it helps his legs feel better so he wants to drink more and says, "fix it, legs." 

I tried Melatonin and Acupuncture but didn't continue long-term. I think are worth mentioning because every person is different.

Acupuncture
Although acupuncture is arguably the most well-respected non-western medicine and I believe it probably works, I wasn't sold that it was going to help us in this situation. My insurance wouldn't cover the appointments and I couldn't use my flexible spending account to pay for any of the $90 visits.  A large part of my decision to discontinue was that the acupuncturist was was recommending a host of behavioral changes such as; limiting dairy intake to improve iron absorption and massaging his legs before bed-time.  I felt I could try the acupuncturist's behavioral recommendations without appointmnets and couple with less costly alternatives. 

Melatonin
His previous pediatrician also told me that the use of Melatonin as a sleep aid was 'completely safe'  in children. I did try it and it did work to get him to sleep faster, although I am not convinced that it is 'completely safe' because of limited research on the subject and because I did read in one article that it can cause testosterone disruption. I opted for reigning melatonin levels naturally at bed-time by dimming lights which reportedly helps the body's own melatonin to kick in. The body's natural level of melatonin are highest at bedtime so it's a matter of trying to add to it naturally. Without conclusive research on the side effects of melatonin supplements in toddlers, I've decided to discontinue giving it to him.

Helpful Articles:
Discovery Health "12 Home Remedies for Restless Legs Syndrome."

Part 4 of my series article will focus on Women & Ferritin deficiency and it's Hereditary Nature.

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