My husband has had RLS for a long time. I kept reading about the soap remedy in your column, and I finally decided to put the soap in our bed without his knowledge. It worked! It’s really unbelievable. One day last month my son was home doing his laundry. He always folds his clothes on our bed, and he came to me saying, “Mom, do I want to know why there’s a bar of soap in your bed?”
We wish we knew why a bar of soap under the bottom sheet often helps ease restless legs. This condition, a persistent, irresistible urge to move the legs, can interfere with sleep. Not only the sufferer but also the bed partner may end up sleep deprived.
I have suffered from restless leg syndrome all of my life, and I am over 50! My mother told me I had growing pains when I was a kid, but that became ridiculous when I reached my 20s. When I read about putting soap under the bottom sheet, I thought it was the silliest thing I had ever heard of. Let me assure you that to my great surprise, it works. I have now had five straight nights of sleep in my own bed with no walking around and no shifting to try to get comfortable.
Putting a bar of plain soap between the bottom sheet and the mattress pad certainly seems bizarre. We have no idea how it may work, but we have heard from many happy readers that it does.
I finally fell asleep last night but woke up an hour and a half later. I had started getting cramps and a creepy-crawly feeling in my legs. I know some people who have RLS, so I decided to look it up and see if there were any remedies. I’m sitting at the computer right now with a bar of soap under each leg, and it seems to be working! (I thought this idea was crazy, but I figured I had nothing to lose.) Thank you.
Placing a bar of soap under the bottom sheet, near where the legs will rest, is one of the wackiest remedies we’ve come across. But we have heard from so many people that it helps, it is clear some folks do benefit. Soap is inexpensive and doesn’t have side effects. That cannot be said about the medications prescribed for RLS.
I have severe periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). I have used Sinemet and Mirapex separately during the last eight years, but I stopped each due to side effects. I am currently unmedicated and miserable. The leg movements at night destroy my sleep, but I am waiting for the doctor to decide what to do next. Someone mentioned Ivory soap, so I tried it in a wrap around my ankles and under my feet in double socks. I have also placed four bars across my lower bed under the bottom sheet. No matter where I move my feet, a bar of soap is near. If a movement wakes me, I move my foot to touch the soap, and fall right back to sleep. This hasn’t been a cure, but it certainly has made the limb movements more tolerable. I would love to understand why it helps, but just having a degree of relief is good enough for me.
The medications you have taken, along with one called Requip, are sometimes prescribed for PLMD or for a milder form called restless leg syndrome. As you discovered, the side effects can be hard to tolerate. We worry particularly about people falling asleep during normal daily activities such as driving. Yikes! In that context, soap begins to sound pretty good. There are no studies, and no one knows why it might help. So many readers have told us that they have gotten relief from RLS or leg cramps by using soap under the bottom sheet, we think it is worth a try. Even PLMD might be less troublesome. And soap won’t put you to sleep behind the wheel!
Source Credits: Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic