Few things may feel more frustrating than those nights that you are fighting to fall asleep. No matter how many times you toss and turn, it seems impossible to find a comfortable position that will allow you to actually go to sleep.
It can be frustrating to not know what it is that is challenging your sleep. Did you consume too much caffeine? Are you not feeling well? Or could it be the pain from your varicose veins that are keeping you awake at night?
Here, we answer the question of whether varicose veins can affect your sleep and discuss the ways you can combat varicose vein leg pain at night.
To answer the big daunting question, yes – the symptoms associated with varicose veins can certainly affect your good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, these symptoms can strike day and night.
Many people find the symptoms of their venous disease can get worse at night when they are at rest and have fewer distractions from leg aching. There can also be additional discomfort from swelling as a result of standing or sitting too long during the day. Leg symptoms at night can be in the form of cramps, aching, and itching of the legs or other areas affected by vein disease.
Another issue that may be keeping you up at night could be restless leg syndrome (RLS). The NHS defines restless leg syndrome as a condition that “causes an overwhelming irresistible urge to move the legs.” This uncomfortable sensation typically occurs after sitting or lying down for a long time and gets better when you get up and move around. While there are other symptoms of RLS (including itchiness, creeping, pulling, and tugging), the most prevalent one is the inability to stop moving your legs, hence the name “restless leg syndrome.”
Vein disease can cause a feeling of restlessness very similar to restless leg syndrome. In fact, many of the symptoms of vein disease are similar to RLS such as itching, throbbing, aching, and cramping. The good news is, unlike RLS, vein disease is easily diagnosed and treated at The Whiteley Clinic whilst offering the lowest possible recurrence rate in the world. Be sure to tell your vein specialist about the symptoms you are experiencing.
If your vein disease symptoms have got you down and unable to sleep, don’t worry — there are some options to help you improve your nightly sleep and help alleviate leg pain and restlessness at night.
Specific sleeping positions may aid you in sleeping better, despite your varicose vein symptoms. These positions focus primarily on elevating your feet. By putting a pillow under your mattress that raises your legs up about 10cm, you may find decreased swelling in your legs. This sleeping position will help the blood to flow back to your heart thus keep pain and swelling at bay, which in turn means you’ll find yourself able to sleep better.
Wearing compression stockings is a great option for those struggling to sleep due to the symptoms associated with varicose veins, although benefits are only temporary. Compression stockings help improve circulation in the veins. The way the stockings work is that they are fitted tightly around the foot and loosen as they move up the leg. This is called “graduated pressure” and helps them do their pushing the blood back up to the heart, in combination with your leg muscles as you move. They promote better blood flow in the veins that may be struggling and/or damaged and which do not pump blood as efficiently as normal veins.
As a result of the compression stockings doing some of the work your veins are unable to do on their own, you will find that pain and swelling often go down, and chances are your cramps in your legs may slightly decrease as well. Unfortunately, they only work when they are being worn and so are not a permanent solution.
Stretching your muscles throughout the day will help keep them from getting tight at night and will help to promote healthy blood flow through your veins.
Drinking sufficient water during the day is another way to keep your vein pain at a minimum at night. Generally, you should drink enough that your urine is straw yellow. Darker than this, you are probably not drinking enough. However, totally clear and without colour, you are drinking too much. If you do this before you go to bed, you may need to get up one or more times to pass urine – disturbing your night’s sleep. So watch your urine, keep hydrated but don’t fill up just before you go to bed!
If you have pain or restlessness in your legs at night, it is definitely the time to consider having your veins checked. At the first sign of any issues with your veins, it is sensible to schedule a consultation and scan with a vein specialist so that they may determine the severity of your vein problems. Following a duplex ultrasound scan, if performed by a specialist vascular technologist, your consultant will determine what treatment option is best for you.
Years of research and audits have shown treatment by The Whiteley Protocol both cures varicose veins and the underlying causes, resulting in the lowest possible risk of recurrence.
The Whiteley Clinic has exclusive access to the latest vein treatments in the UK and is a founding member of The College of Phlebology Venous Registry. This registry monitors our results, showing we are transparent about our outcomes so that patients can be safe in the knowledge that our results are monitored.