a bar of soap at the foot of the bed, soap under the sheets, soap under your bottom sheet

If you found a bar of soap under the sheets on your bed, you might be startled. Of course, if you’ve been reading The People’s Pharmacy, you’ll know immediately what that soap is doing there. Many people use soap in bed to prevent leg cramps. Others insist that this eases restless legs syndrome (RLS). Here is what one reader told us.

Why Put Soap Under the Sheets?

Q. People look at me as if I am crazy when I tell them that I keep a bar of soap under the sheets. I have not had restless leg syndrome nor leg cramps during sleep for more than three years. I use Ivory, since that is what sits next to my bathroom sink.

I tell the skeptics that they are losing out by not trying it. One man, a dentist, still suffers from RLS but refuses to try it.

Soap Against Pain and Cramps:

A. Soap under the bottom sheet may not work for all cases of restless leg syndrome (RLS), but we have heard from many people who find it helpful. Although it has not been studied for RLS, the scent of Ivory soap is effective against the pain of menstrual cramps (Ough et al, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, July 2008) and fibromyalgia (Ough, Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, Sep. 1, 2008).

Soap and TRP Channels:

We suspect that soap fragrance works by calming hyperexcitable nerves (Behringer et al, European Journal of Applied Physiology, Aug. 2017). We have written about TRP channels and muscle cramps previously. In that case, we were describing how mustard and pickle juice activate TRP channels to release leg cramps quickly.

Various compounds used to scent soap may also trigger transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, especially TRPV1 and TRPA1. Limonene, for example, stimulates TRPA1 (Kaimoto et al, European Journal of Pain, Aug. 2016).

So far, we are only offering this explanation as an hypothesis. We haven’t seen any research to test it. But ever since the beginning of the 21st century, scientists have uncovered increasing roles for TRP channels, so we anticipate that at some point investigators will discover how they affect RLS.

 

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  1. Annette S.
    W. Seneca, NY
    Reply

    I’ve had leg pain (right only) for 10 yrs. I’ve been using Ivory soap for 2 wks. & my pain is 90% GONE !!! My question is: How long to use the same bar of soap under the sheets…When is a fresh bar advisable?

  2. Evelyn
    Boiling Springs, SC
    Reply

    After reading all these testimonies from people that have had good luck with their restless legs with a bar of soap, I’m about to try it out tonight. I can’t wait to see if it helps me. My legs nearly drive me crazy some nights.

  3. Linda
    Tennessee
    Reply

    I’m definitely going to try this.

  4. Marilyn
    Baltimore
    Reply

    The other night in a hotel I got a severe foot cramp, and after rubbing and walking around, I grabbed the bar of soap from the soap dish and rubbed in on the sole of my foot. The cramp disappeared. Perhaps a coincidence, but I think it was the soap.

    I have a bar of soap under my sheet at home, and it has all but eliminated my leg cramps.

  5. Grandma
    Oregon
    Reply

    Where do you place the soap? Touching your legs or just near them?

  6. Amanda
    South Carolina
    Reply

    So why not just use these soaps in the wash and skip the bar of soap under the sheets, which my dog might be happy to eat?

  7. Bob K
    Tampa, Fl
    Reply

    Bob K Tampa Fl

    My wife suggested to me (SS=Soap in the sheets) and I didn’t believe. It works on my aching legs
    legs like MAGIC!

  8. S.H.
    Reply

    I have been using soaps under sheets for 15+ years. The only time it stopped working was when the soaps slid off the end of the bed.
    I use Ivory, still in the wrapper, but my favorite is original green Irish Spring.
    I still think that restless leg syndrome may have something to do with nerve electrical impulses building up and then discharging onto the soap, which carries a positive charge, with magnesium and calcium being positive.

  9. Wanda
    Sask. Canada
    Reply

    I’ve been “sleeping with soap” for about 8 months and it really works to calm my restless legs!

  10. Marilyn
    Minnesota
    Reply

    My son had “severe” leg, foot, & hand cramps : related to his liver disease, which is a common ailment for liver disease. He started using IRISH SPRING soap in each long sock so it was by his calf. Immediatly he had complete relief. He replaces the soap about once a month as the power of the soap begins to fade by then. Very cheap and very effective. BELIEVE IT.

  11. Jerry
    OH
    Reply

    I always like your column. I have read you for many years. You give good advice. Thank you. I take cod liver oil each morning. I had foot and leg cramps at night. I finally narrowed it down to my shoes with an arch that was too high. I got rid of the shoes and the cramps went.

  12. Dale
    Reply

    Did It For 4-5 Months And No Charlie Horse. Forgot To Put It Back In And Cramps Came Back. Amazing How It Works

  13. Jan
    27215
    Reply

    I have terrible leg cramps now. It started about a year ago. I tried Yardley English lavender soap under the sheet. it did absolutely nothing for me.

  14. Dennis
    Mukilteo, WA
    Reply

    I tried the soap, not sure it worked as I was reading up on magnesium and have lost the
    restless leg symptom since I added that over the counter vitamin.

  15. Linda
    Oregon
    Reply

    I have a terrible time with restless legs while flying long distances. I recently had an overnight flight from the west coast (US) to London, and it was awful. I makes me be hesitant to travel, and I’d like to travel!! Has anyone had this problem and used any of the above to solve your RLS? TIA!!

    • Joe Graedon
      Reply

      Linda,

      An acquaintance told us several years ago that she suffered exactly the same problem. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is horrific, especially on long airplane flights. She remembered the soap stories and decided to try putting soap chips in her socks during her next long flight. The soap trick worked like a charm.

      After hearing this story we developed “Leg Soap.” Our soap manufacturer came up with a way to create small chips of soap especially for socks. They can be used during the day, on trips, or at night while lying in bed. Here is a link to Leg Soap:

      https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/store/body-care/peoples-pharmacy-leg-soap/

  16. Sara
    NM
    Reply

    After reading this article a few weeks ago, I decided to try it for my intense restless leg syndrome. Well, I can honestly say my legs have calmed down quite a bit! Definitely worth trying. Any relief is major. Thanks for posting!

  17. Gail
    Houston,Tx
    Reply

    I had terrible leg cramps and tried your soap on my bed. I have experienced a marked decrease from n the frequency and severity of my legs cramping.

  18. Jan
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Reply

    Absolutely soap between the sheets close to your legs at night works to stop leg cramps and twitches that often keep us up. I heard about it from a friend and have passed this info along to dozens of others who are all happily sleeping with a bar of soap. The brand does not seem to matter. And amazingly, I used it for a year and after that, now, I have no more cramps and don’t even need it.

  19. MIKE
    Reply

    I must say it does work for me. I have zero need to delve into why. It just does and who cares why.

    It just takes the cramps away. Now there are no more midnight cramps that in some cases would take 1/2 hour to an hour to go away. Plus the lingering soreness for days walking around with a baseball under your skin. That is all gone. I just sleep now. It’s been a life changer .

  20. Mare
    Charlotte, NC
    Reply

    I’ve used various kinds of bar soap under my sheets and it most definitely stopped my morning leg cramps. I change the soap about 3-4 x a year. I felt silly doing it the first time, but with nothing to lose but pain, I went ahead and placed a used bar of soap in a sock near the foot of my bed and forgot about it. One day I realized: No more muscles seizing up in the morning!

  21. MELINDA B.
    MD
    Reply

    I USE IT AND I DON’T HAVE PROBLEMS WITH MY RLS ANYMORE. ALL I CAN SAY IS (IT WORKS).

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