Please help me sleepwalk.
September 5, 2008 2:10 PM   Subscribe

How can I train myself to fall asleep while walking?

I have RLS. (Yes, it's real, and it sucks.) I am on drugs for it, but it's very difficult to find the dosage that's high enough to let my legs relax and let me fall asleep, but low enough so as not to cause violent vomiting.

It doesn't kick in until I actually begin falling asleep. At that point, my legs have to move. I kick, I do leg lifts, but sometimes I start falling asleep while my leg is moving, and it stops, and the RLS starts up again, and I wake up.

If I could walk, either out in my backyard or on a nonelectric treadmill, and manage to fall asleep while walking, it seems like everything would be taken care of. Can sleepwalking be taught?
posted by cereselle to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you tried switching drugs? Requip sucked the suckiest suck for me, but Klonopin gave me the best sleep ever. But to answer your actual question, trying to fall asleep while walking seems like a really bad idea.
posted by Ruki at 2:22 PM on September 5, 2008

Response by poster: It's not the greatest of ideas, agreed, but I'm at the end of my rope here.

I recently switched from Requip to Klonopin, but Klonopin doesn't work very well, and knocks me out during the day besides.

Goddamn broken brain.
posted by cereselle at 2:25 PM on September 5, 2008

Ok, obviously falling asleep while walking on a treadmill is pretty dangerous. If I'm understanding correctly, the key is that you need to be moving your legs in order to fall asleep, right? What about setting up some kind of non-electric treadmill vertically at the end of your bed so you can lay down, put your feet on it and walk up until sleep comes?
posted by platinum at 2:42 PM on September 5, 2008

What about a recumbent stationary bike, something like this? Seems no more dangerous than falling alseep in your average run-of-the-mill chair.
posted by Mender at 2:47 PM on September 5, 2008

Best answer: Get one of those little pedaling machines and sleep in a recliner or on the couch.

Please don't walk and sleep.
posted by tristeza at 2:53 PM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Pedaling machine it is! I have a comfy couch, so this seems like an ideal solution. Thank you!
posted by cereselle at 3:56 PM on September 5, 2008

I had to ditch one of my allergy meds (Claritin) and move my Flonase dose to first thing in the morning, or my RLS tried to slaughter my sleep on a regular basis. You might check your list of OTC and other meds with your doctor.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:16 PM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

I know this isn't the question you're asking, but just in case you haven't already tried this: My father was tortured by RLS for years. After much prodding from doctors, he gave up coffee and caffeine in general, and his symptoms went away and haven't come back for a couple of years.

Also, the pedaling machine is brilliant advice. Hopefully you can have bicycling dreams.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 5:58 PM on September 5, 2008

My grandmother had restless leg syndrome, and cured it by drinking a small glass of sherry every evening. She preferred Harvey's Bristol Cream.

But let us know how the pedaling machine works! That's an awesome idea.
posted by infinitywaltz at 6:58 PM on September 5, 2008

I notice that RLS is associated with migraines, fibromyalgia and possibly OCD.

Fibromyalgia and OCD are resistant to treatment, but migraines seem to be more readily brought under control, and their correlation with RLS is relatively more robust (here are a couple of articles discussing the connection, including one suggesting they have the same cause).

So if you suffer from migraines, you might be able to deal with your RLS by focusing on keeping migraines to an absolute minimum.
posted by jamjam at 7:36 PM on September 5, 2008

Ha, pedaling machine and couch! Much more practical suggestion than my treadmill and bed idea. Nice job Tristeza! :)
posted by platinum at 1:31 AM on September 6, 2008

I had a similar experience to M.C. Lo-Carb!'s father. I cut down on my caffeine intake and the RLS went away. Also, we have a Sleep Number bed and I haven't had problems since we got that (I can't figure out why). Also also, I'm on Klonopin. Also also also, I'm more sedentary now; when I was walking a lot, the RLS was worse. I wonder if more exercise is going to make it worse. I hope the pedaling works for you though.
posted by desjardins at 9:47 AM on September 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

RLS can also be associated with a low red-cell count, AKA anemia. (Has your doc checked your blood?) Especially when an SSRI anti-depressant is being used.
posted by exphysicist345 at 12:03 AM on September 7, 2008

The answers here seem to fall into an interesting pattern.

Migraines make for vasoconstriction in some parts of the brain and vasodilation in others; caffeine is a vasoconstrictor; and Claritin appears to be a vasoconstrictor.

Alcohol (the small glass of sherry), on the other hand, provides relief from RLS for infinitywaltz's grandmother and is a vasodilator.

Fibromyalgia is often characterized as interfering with blood flow to the brain, as vasoconstriction would, and anemia would also have the effect of reducing the availability of oxygen to the brain.

So it looks as if RLS could be due to some part of the brain not getting the oxygen it needs to function properly because of reduced blood flow or reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

Fish oil supplements might improve blood flow despite vasoconstriction, and even help to counteract the effects of anemia by increasing capillary throughput, but I couldn't find convincing anecdotes that they help RLS, possibly because people are using fish oil for everything.

(By the way, the 'also, also also, also also also' progression is delightful. Don't be surprised to see that running around over my user name sometime.)
posted by jamjam at 9:21 AM on September 8, 2008

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