bars of soap

We appreciate a skeptical attitude. It doesn’t make sense to believe everything you hear or read. That’s why trying out a home remedy for yourself makes a lot of sense. That is what this reader did in testing soap for restless legs syndrome.

Soap in Bed to Ease Restless Legs:

Q. I was one heck of a skeptic when I heard about putting soap in the bed to calm restless legs syndrome. In fact, I laughed at the person who told me about it. However, I have suffered with RLS for several years, so I decided to give it a try.

Well, I had to eat a little humble pie. Not only does soap work, it works in a matter of 30 seconds to a minute. I’m sure it will not work for everyone, every time. But it sure has helped me and a dozen people I’ve told about it. We may not know exactly how it works and there may be folks who think it is bogus. Well, they are just plain wrong.

I put my bar of soap in a pillowcase and rest my leg or legs on the pillow under the cover. This works to ease the restlessness every time.

A. Thank you for your story. We have heard from many other people who find soap helpful for restless legs syndrome but, as you recognize, not all benefit.

Other Readers Report Success:

Q. This is either an urban legend or a friend is playing a joke on me. She says that if you sleep with a bar of soap (not Dove or deodorant kind) the restless legs syndrome (RLS) will not occur.

She swears that she read this someplace and that it worked for a relative. Since it was non-invasive, I slept with a bar of soap for two weeks. No RLS, but I still had leg cramps.

Is this a placebo? Mind over-matter? It is NOT logical! Have you ever heard of such a thing?

A. Your friend may have read about the soap remedy in our column. We agree that putting a bar of soap under the bottom sheet is illogical. Like most remedies, it has never been tested scientifically. But we have heard from many readers that it helps prevent their cramps.

Here is one:

“I have had severe leg cramps for years. When I read about putting a bar of soap in bed, I got a bar of Ivory and put it under the bottom sheet near my legs. It’s been a month since I did that, and I have not had one leg cramp.”

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) differs from leg cramps in that the person feels the urge to move the legs frequently. It too can interfere with sleep.

Prescription Drugs for Restless Legs:

There are prescription drugs used to treat those with serious RLS, but the medications have some daunting side effects, such as falling asleep during the day while driving or eating. Dizziness, fainting, sleepiness, fatigue, gambling or other compulsive behaviors, indigestion, nausea, pain, swollen legs, dry mouth and hallucinations are other potential reactions.

Other Approaches to Easing Restless Legs Syndrome:

We offer some approaches to managing restless legs with supplements or measures other than drugs. Again, not every treatment will be effective in each case. There are more details in our Guide to Leg Pain.

One of the most promising approaches is to determine whether you are deficient in iron. This problem is associated with anemia and often disappears when the deficiency is corrected. Low folic acid may also contribute to restless legs.

If you are interested in lavender-scented soap that is flat so as not to disturb the legs when it is hiding under the bottom sheet, consider our Bed Soap. It is shaped especially for this purpose, though it also makes a lovely bath soap. Lavender oil seems to be helpful in easing RLS.

Revised 9/14/17

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  1. Mark

    My wife had terrible leg cramps at night. I put a bar of soap under the sheet and now she sleeps all night. That bar has been there for like, two years. When I change the sheets I have almost always forgotten that it’s there. Still works. Makes no sense at all but, it works.

  2. B

    I heard a medico say that RLS happens when the sufferer is not in deep sleep, but kicking takes place when same is sleeping very deeply.

  3. Charles
    Reading, PA

    You need to do this test. Get a bar of soap and a block of wax similar in a similar shape. Tell a friend to put one or the other under your bed, but not to tell you what night was what object. Record the results. I am willing to bet that the wax will work just as well as the soap.

  4. John Z

    The function of bar soap in easing RLS and/or leg cramps is not illogical, at all. Take a course in logic, and find out what constitutes illogicality. That it works (effect) appears to be well established. That it does not work in every case is beside the point. The factor of causality in either case simply has yet to be determined.

  5. Anita
    Spokane, Wa.

    Clutching a bar of soap in painful, arthritic hands almost immediately straightens out your fingers and stops the pain! This also works on those curled under toes! TRY IT!

  6. Steve

    Soap trick didn’t work for me, but another option that I also learned about through People’s Pharmacy did the job. Magnesium. And as I recall the magnesium deficiency may be brought on by long term use of PPI’s. I have taken Prilosec for years so that may have been the cause.

    My own blind study confirms the magnesium works. (Well, my “blind study” consisted of me stopping the magnesium intake when we temporarily ran out…spouse lays out our pills every day and I had no idea that magnesium was no longer in the mix. ) The RL symptoms returned until we started up again.

  7. Cheryl

    Does the bar of soap need to be a certain brand. I use Dove soap. Would that work?

    Thank you.

    • Kay

      I don’t think so, because I use dial, or Grandmas Lye Soap. They both do a wonderful job of stopping leg, foot cramps and restless legs for me!!!

  8. Eileen

    Ever heard of placebo effect?

  9. Toni

    What brands of soap to use or what ingredients the soap should be sure to have? I just tried Dr Bronners almond
    Soap…. No help… Thx

    • The People's Pharmacy

      This remedy may not work for everyone, but we’ve heard amazing success stories, as well as from those who it did not work for. Many try this remedy with a bar of mini hotel soap, which can slide easily under the bottom bed sheet. Others report success with Irish Spring or Dial. We even developed a bar of soap in a soothing and relaxing lavender scent which is large and flat, like a chocolate bar, that will slide comfortably under the bedsheets and will also smell great in the bath.

  10. Mary B

    Any special sort of soap for RLS?

    • DMA

      I have used dial yellow soap for years, that’s what I use at home, and when I open a fresh bar I swap out the one under the sheets….

  11. Peggy
    apex, nc

    My mother-in-law has been using Sunburn Relief Gel (the green sticky stuff) on her RLS for years. She looks for the brand that has Lidocaine in it. She also walks around the house a bit; she says the combination has been her answer to this aggravation for about 25 years. It was by accident that she found this solution–a happy accident for sure!

  12. David

    Hi to everyone,
    After 25 years of living with restless legs, I have finally found a cure!
    Not soap in bed, not tonic water, not acupuncture, not meditation, not mustard etc etc I’ve tried them all believe me. Cure for my restless legs – I have been doing a lot of flying for work, my restless legs were driving me crazy on plane – my wife suggested buying air travel circulation socks (never heard of before) cost $40 from a chemist (drugstore in the States), I put them on at airport flew for 8 hours without RLS issues, I thought what about sleeping? Wore them that night to bed and no RLS issues and for the past month every night wear to bed no RLS!! and I sleep so soundly I look forward to putting my socks on every night and sleep away, I can’t believe ??? but after all these years.
    so – air travel circulation socks – try it works for me
    good luck, David

  13. LGR

    Works for me too. Love the soap chips in my socks. But, because I am on a limited budget, I used them over and over to make them last. And then my feet started jerking again! Within 1 min after replacing them with fresh chips, I got complete relief! I too place the soap wherever the cramp is and it works.
    I have also used them in long compression socks and they stop severe calf leg cramps too! Glad to read above that the magnesium glycerinate does not cause loose bowels, knowing that 80% are deficient in magnesium, the highest deficiency of all.

    • David

      Try air travel circulation socks works for me after 25 years with RLS.
      good luck, David

  14. ARD

    Soap worked for me also. I had put a small almost used up bar of Irish Spring wrapped in tissue on the night stand near my bed to try the next time I got cramps. I experienced a really severe toe and foot cramp episode, so used the soap. I placed it (still wrapped in tissue) under my toes. The toe cramps stopped after a little less than a minute. I then placed the soap on top of my foot and shortly the foot cramp stopped. I have used it successfully several times since, for foot and leg cramps.
    Increasing my magnesium intake also works for me to stop the cramps from happening in the first place. I have recently read that magnesium glycinate works well without causing loose bowels, so have ordered some.

  15. s.h.

    Soap works! it stops charlie horse, as well as the dreaded restless leg. because I have been careful to pay attention to what I have eaten and what meds I have taken. Always, any kind of anti-histamine will trigger an episode, usually within 1-1/2 to 2 hours, whether Rx or over the counter. Some antihistamines have hidden names, for me. The other trigger is if I have a meal that is high in carbs, like Italian meal. If blood sugar drops quickly afterwards, that drop episode time is when I get RLS. Soap in the bed really helps prevent or stop the episodes. I usually add a new bar to the older ones when I change the soaps every few months.

  16. Donnie

    I use a homeopathic remedy for leg and foot cramps, and also one for restless legs. They do work quite well. I even carry a bottle for leg cramps with me when I go in the car, because riding in it can trigger my foot cramps. I’ll try the soap under the bed sheet remedy to prevent cramps, because I often get them at night.

  17. CAW

    Figured out that some of my leg cramps were caused by curling up to keep legs warm without realizing that was the cause so purchased several pair of leg warmers which were long enough to go from ankle to over knee and put on a pair over pj legs nightly in cold weather. No more leg cramps or pain and when you have to get up in middle of night to go keep you warm an added plus.

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