A while ago I received a cooling mat as a gift. The mat came in a cardboard package with a pet on the front. Dogs benefit from such a cooling mat if they overheat in the summer months. They cannot lose their body heat. If you suffer from restless legs and therefore have warm legs at night, this is also something to try. At least it had been on my wish list for a while.
As said, I was lucky enough to get one. The giver in question likes to give me something like this from time to time. He knows how drastic it is not to sleep well every night. It is not only the waking up itself, but also the painful, nagging discomfort. You can’t just turn to your other side and go back to sleep like many other people.
I always had cold feet in the past. That is why I usually wore socks at night in bed. However, when I started to develop symptoms of RLS a few years ago, I noticed that my feet were getting warmer in the early evening. In bed, this process was only further enhanced. This was a totally new experience for me.
Cooling mat under the calves
Since I got the cooling mat, I use it regularly at night. When I wake up with troubled legs, I do some stretching and yoga first. Back in bed, I then put the cooling mat under my calves. First I lie on one side and then, a little later, on the other. Both calves are cooled in this way. Believe me, for hot, burning legs, this is very pleasant.
It is something in the material of the cooling mat that causes the cold to be activated. This happens due to the pressure of the body weight. The mat contains a kind of self-cooling gel. For me, the cold helps against the heat in my calves (and feet). After lying on it for a while, I put the mat on the floor next to my bed. The gel can then recover for another round.
If you’ve never had restless legs, it’s hard to imagine the benefits of being able to cool your legs this way. I understood from fellow sufferers that not everyone with RLS gets such warm legs and feet. It is still a mystery to me where the heat build-up comes from. It could also be something that goes with menopause. Restless legs and menopause sometimes go together. You probably never find out exactly what causes what.
The cooling mat is often used for pets during the summer months. The animals get too hot during the day at higher temperatures. They cannot lose their heat, especially if they are also physically active.
In the case of restless legs, the unpleasant heat does not occur during the day but at night and especially when you are not active. However, you will sleep better if your body and the ambient temperature are a bit cooler. I started using the cooling mat in the fall. For me it was still necessary to cool down in that season. I don’t know if that is also the case during the winter. I think it will be very pleasant to use a cooling mat next summer. I benefit from it and really fall back to sleep more easily after a cooling session.
By the way, this attribute lists things I do to reduce the symptoms of RLS. To begin with, I live in a very balanced way, with enough time for rest and as little (unnecessary) stress as possible. As a support I eat healthy and I take magnesium, extra iron and vitamin B12, among other things. I also do stretching exercises and yoga twice a day. I think I do just about everything I can reasonably do myself, without medication.
I found it interesting when I recently read that exposure to cold triggers the production of the neurotransmitter endorphins. For example, you can think of a cold shower or the use of a cooling mat. Endorphins also promote the release of serotonin and yes, dopamine. I wrote a blog before about the link between dopamine and restless legs.
Would using a cooling mat (or other forms of cold exposure) help improve dopamine production? To say the least, it’s an intriguing thought for people with RLS. It’s something for medical science to investigate further.