Maybe it’s happened to you? You’re very tired, in bed, and trying to fall asleep, when all of a sudden, you get a horrible itching feeling in your legs, like someone is sticking pins or needles into them. This sensation makes you move your legs around to make it go away.
You fall back asleep, but soon after, the feeling comes back. You fling the covers off and get up and walk around, making it dissipate. But at this point, you can’t sleep.
If this has happened to you, you might be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS) and leg cramps, substantially disturbing their sleep.
There are many different reasons that people suffer from RLS and leg cramps, including dehydration, inactivity (such as sitting or standing for extended periods of time in uncomfortable positions), neurological diseases, and even vitamin deficiencies.
The best things to do during the daytime are to drinks lots of water, get exercise, and eat a balanced diet. Stretching before bed can also help. But what about at night time when none of these options are available?
Well, strange as it may sound, a simple bathroom item could be the answer to your problems with RLS and leg cramps disturbing your sleep. It’s as simple as putting a bar of soap in your bed!
But what on earth could soap have to with these physiological and neurological processes? A lot, as it turns out! As Dr. Tara Berman notes on her blog City Slim, medical research and the cases of her own patients seem to indicate that soap helps relieve muscle tension because of its scent.
“My patients’ reports on relief from just having the soap in the bed and not even touching their legs [means that] the only volatile property of the soap that could diffuse through the sheets is its scent,” she said.
For soaps with essential oils, this could make a lot of sense as natural scents like lavender are known to have relaxing properties.
What happened when the scent was put into patches and tested on patients with chronic muscle tension? According to Dr. Berman, “all patients reported initial pain relief within 1 hour of application, with 3 patients reporting nearly complete pain relief (lasting between 18 to 30 hours). Their sleep was also more restful.”
Other ideas about why soap helps people with cramps and RLS have to do with its high concentration of magnesium, which is a mineral that many people with these conditions may be deficient in. By putting the soap in the bed, you might be able to alleviate this deficiency.
But will just any old soap bar work? And does it matter where you put it? Here are some tips compiled by people who have benefited from this cure on how to gain the maximum benefit, per City Slim.
1. Many people say that after a while, the efficacy of the soap decreases. You can either replace the bar altogether or simply take a fork or knife and score the soap bar, which will help release the healing properties.
2. You can place the soap either on top of the sheets or underneath. Both have been reported to work.
3. While some people said that actually lying next to the soap is ideal so that your skin touches it, many others reported relief without doing this.
Putting a bar of soap under your fitted bed sheet is a proven treatment for a very common medical condition that almost 50% of people report they suffer from.
Even if you’re skeptical about the health benefits, if you’re suffering from RLS or cramps, why not give it a try? As Dr. Berman writes, “the risks of such a treatment seem minimal in the face of refractory pain, with a lot of relief to gain. Worse case, at least your bed sheets will smell good!”