The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Ease Restless Legs Syndrome with Soap Under the Sheet

Some people find that tucking a bar of soap under the bottom sheet can ease the creepy sensations of restless legs syndrome.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition in which a person feels an irresistible urge to move the legs. The movement temporarily relieves an uncomfortable sensation similar to a tickle, an itch or insects crawling on the skin. These sensations appear to be most common when a person is sitting quietly, reading or watching television, for example. They often are most disruptive when the sufferer is trying to go to sleep.

Moving the legs every few minutes or so not only wakes the person trying to sleep, but also can disturb a bed partner. One reader was surprised to get relief from a bar of soap.

The Soap Story:

Q. After ten years of suffering with restless legs syndrome (RLS), requiring ever increasing amounts of ropinirole (Requip) to sleep, I thought I was losing my mind due to lack of sleep. I spent hours pacing during the night and usually slept in our second bedroom so that I would not disturb my wife. Even with medication I needed to get up around 1 or 2 am and work through a second episode of RLS before finally falling asleep again.

Then the RLS suddenly stopped. I told my wife that I wasn’t having the issue any longer and was puzzled by the change.

That’s when she informed me that a co-worker suggested putting soap under the sheet. She had put a bar under our bottom sheet to see if it actually worked for restless legs syndrome.

I still take my meds (because I am paranoid about not sleeping) but I need only a minimum dose. So far I’m thrilled with this bizarre solution.

Cramp Remedy May Also Help RLS:

A. We have heard from many people who use the soap remedy to prevent nighttime leg cramps. People with RLS may also find this remedy beneficial. We are pleased you’ve gotten such a good response.

Another reader tried a different approach, which you might want to keep in mind if you need it in the future:

“I suffered from restless leg syndrome. After hunting for remedies, I realized all the products had magnesium in them. I bought a bottle of magnesium and take one pill every night. I have not had any more attacks.”

If you suffer from RLS, give the soap remedy a try. Let us know if it worked for you. The soap is ordinary bar soap, and it is to be placed on the mattress pad and under the bottom sheet, near where the legs will be.

Side Effects from Requip:

The FDA approved ropinirole to treat restless legs syndrome in 2005. The drug had originally been developed to treat Parkinson’s disease. The dose used to treat RLS is lower, but it can still have side effects. They include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • digestive distress
  • loss of appetite
  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • confusion
  • trouble concentrating
  • urinary difficulties
  • erectile dysfunction

Some side effects are uncommon, but if they occur they can be serious. They may include:

  • fainting
  • hallucinations
  • heart rhythm changes
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • trouble swallowing
  • double vision

If any of these occur in a person taking ropinirole, medical attention should be urgently sought.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Cutting too the chase,
I really didn’t believe but was willing to try anything.
My method:
I used Ivory soap bars, sliced them thin with a cheese slicing wire. Placed them at the bottom of a full-body pillow, with soar bars at my feet area.

Scraps and any soap chips created from slicing soap are used to put them in bottom of socks (just a small amount) and wear them around house.

Results: After two days and now three weeks, this crazy gimmick has worked. It has even taken care of my leg cramps. Is it a placebo? I don’t know but the results are positive.

I now have to do more research as to why it works. Everything has a reason, and I’m sure that if go back far enough in the making of soap, there is an ingredient that makes it work.

Magnesium was solution for my RLS and really didn’t work that well. Before this finding I was getting overdosed with magnesium, always over tired and drowsy. YES you can over-do the magnesium (internet).
Ivory soap my RLS savor also has a mild clean smell, try it!

SUCCESS 4 me: I have RLS and minor neuropathy in my left foot over 3/4 of the foot. I was taking Ropiniole. A lady in our Vintage Daughter of the King group suggested soap. Yes I am a “Doubting Thomasina”. However: I bought a pack of Dial Lavender and a mesh bag to put it in. I missed instructions of putting under bottom sheet so I sat here in recliner with soap between foot and right leg. Slept with soap under top sheet. WOW! I woke up after the best sleep I have gotten in a LONG time. My neuropathy is DECREASED in intensity. IT works for me. Cannot speak for others A six pack of soap for $1.97 and a mesh for $2. THANK YOU, LORD.
Patsy J. P.

I have had RLS for years and sometimes, usually riding in the car on long trips, thought I would just go crazy! The doctor put me on Requip about 10 years ago. It is the only thing that has worked for me. However, when I first started taking it, I had an electrical type buzz in my head quite often and just generally felt aweful! They started me on 3mg and it just knocked me out!

Since I’m still working I couldn’t deal with being so groggy and asked them to give me a 1/2mg so I could take as little or much as I needed at different times. This has worked quite well. Just recently I have felt the uncomfortable feeling in my arms.

I am interested in the soap remedy. I am a bit leery but will try just about anything to get some relief without having to take Requip! Thanks for your input!

The soap does not do nothing to me. Potassium pills and low bedroom temp.helps a lot

My Mom suffers from restless legs. A friend told me that drinking quinine (tonic water) helps. My Mom has a glass a day for over a year and says it helps a lot.

This does work. I wish I knew why. My experience is that after 6-12 months the soap bars can lose their effectiveness. So when my leg begins acting up again, I pull out the old bars and put in new soap bars ( little ones or a big hand bar ) and presto, within one night the RLS disappears again. I can’t imagine how or who ever discovered this but am glad someone did.

Thanks for all the comments. I just found this site and will be pulling it down to my favorites list. Thanks also to People’s Pharmacy for giving us place to share our comments.

OH, how I wish this soap remedy would work for me….but it does not do a thing. I tried it several different times without any luck or relief from severe leg cramps. These cramps are associated with oral chemo treatment.
So happy for the ones that it does work for….only relief I have found is hot sit bathes with Epson Salts in water.

I have been using the soap under my sheet for years thanks to your site. Actually, a couple of years ago we loaned our retirement home to a neighbor as they were having a hiking group visit and they needed extra sleeping arrangements. When we came back for the summer, the bed was all made up and I experienced RLS and had a terrible time getting to sleep. I went to make the bed and checked for my bar of soap and it was missing. That is another testimony showing that it does make a difference. Thanks for all these home remedies as they do help our lives to be better.

Have used the soap miracle for years…it works, it works, and keeps working. I change the soap out every two or three weeks, don’t throw it out, it’s still usable. Dove didn’t work for me. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

Hav used he soap miracle for years…it works, it worked keeps working. I change the soap out every two or three weeks. Dove didn’t work for me. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

Well, soap, I thought, what a crazy idea, but like others I got desperate enough to try it. Both Ivory and Dove seemed to help a bit. Finally, in the middle of one restless night, I read a comment somewhere on line that said, “Of course. Europeans have been knowing for hundreds of years that a bar of Marseilles soap under the sheets will cure restless leg syndrome.” Looking through the stash of funny little soaps that people had given me over the years, I found an olive-green bar labelled “Marseilles Soap”, unwrapped it, stuck it under the sheet with the existing Ivory bar. and was able to sleep. My suspicion is that the essential difference is the olive oil from which most Marseilles soap is made, not the location of manufacture.

And, if the soap doesn’t prevent RLS, yellow mustard works 80% of the rest of the time. Thanks, People’s Pharmacy, for both methods!

I was told by my oncologist Dr. that I was low in Magnesium about a year ago. So I started taking a supplement of 400mg with breakfast. I’m not sure if I have RLS, but my legs move a lot at night when trying to sleep. I also have leg cramps frequently. Now I’m thinking I possibly would get more benefit from taking them with dinner, or at bedtime..
Advise would be appreciated.

What do you do with the yellow mustard? Stick it under the sheet?

I’m surprised that People’s Pharmacy would not attempt to come up with an explanation for the bar of soap affect.

I have RSL and have found some relief after starting a multivitamin several years ago. But I still have episodes where it would come back. After reading about the bar of soap in your newsletters, I tried it one time. I was lying on the sofa watching and the RSL started. I got up and decided to rub a dry bar of soap all over my legs. After a little while, the RSL subsided and I felt much better.

The soap works for me most of the time.

My RAS/RLS started when I was put on Prozac. The heavier the dose, the worse the problem. Once I was taken off of Prozac all the jumpiness and sleepless nights got better. Then I was put on Wellbutrin SR. Up started the restlessness. For a short time I was put on 300 mg of the Wellbutrin and I thought I would never see a sane moment again. Down the dosage of the Anti-Depressant …and the RAS/RLS got better…but not gone. Finally one of the Doctors put me on Requip. I don’t know what I would do without the Requip. I have tried the soap under the sheet…for my left arm…but I do not notice any difference.
I haven’t read about too many people having the restless arm problem, but believe me …it exists. I would like to know if anyone else has tried the ‘soap-under-the-sheet’ for their arms and if it worked? Maybe I was using the wrong brand of soap. Is there any brand that is better for RAS/RLS than another ?
Good Luck to all, ;)

The soap remedy did not work for me, but taking magnesium with supper, along with a cup of rooibos tea, does work very well to prevent my restless legs problem. A scientist friend told me that rooibos tea helps the body absorb magnesium.
Even with a magnesium supplement every day, I still suffered from restless legs until I started adding the rooibos tea.
I take magnesium in the malate form.

Where do you get the rotobus tea?

I am seriously toying with the idea that my body weight and its pressure on the bed is causing my RLS. I am not over heavy, but I have been. I wonder if my body weight is pressing the moisture out of the backs of the legs and the hips where they touch the sheets. And sometimes the back and shoulders. This i here my RLS is horrid. (for me anyway), I now drink a lot of water before bedtime, and often in the night. Like maybe 12 ounces at a time. It works. I am testing, testing.

what is rooibos tea?

I thought all the conversation about the bar of soap under the sheets for help with RLS was BS but guess what? It seems to work. I’ve been taking Gabapentin and still am with incomplete relief and now with the soap I’ve noticed no symptoms for two weeks. I’ll be asking the doctor about stopping the meds as a trial, being a firm believer that less meds are much better. Thanks!

At least soap under the sheets is unlikely to have any side effects.
It is worth a trial, is it not?

Re: Magnesium
I suspect most of us are deficient in this important mineral.
I also take it to keep my leg cramps down a lot.

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