How to Sleep with Varicose Veins
Varicose vein symptoms can be uncomfortable any time of day but are often especially distressing at night. Here’s what to do to get a restful sleep.
After a long day of work, you look forward to a restful night’s sleep. Unfortunately, if you have varicose veins, drifting into dreamland is not so easy. The painful symptoms of varicose veins seem to rear up at bedtime and keep you from slipping into a rejuvenating rest.
You are not alone. One study asked nearly 300 patients with varicose veins whether their discomfort increased at night. When compared to a cohort of the general population, the varicose vein patients reported a higher incidence of cramping at nighttime. Cramping isn’t the only symptom of varicose veins that may be keeping you up at night. Swelling, pain, and itching also interfere with your sleep patterns. But there are ways to reduce those symptoms and get the rest you need.
How to Sleep Better With Varicose Veins
If your varicose vein symptoms become more pronounced at night, it could be because you’re distracted from the discomfort during the day as you go about your daily activities. This may be especially true if your job entails long hours sitting or standing, which further slows circulation in the leg veins. So when you attempt to fall asleep, you notice the symptoms more.
The nighttime symptoms of varicose veins often mirror that of restless leg syndrome (RLS), a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs to stop what patients describe as a creeping crawly sensation. One study found that RLS patients often exhibited venous insufficiency in the form of varicose veins. Treating the vein disorder, therefore, may alleviate the RLS-like symptoms, the study recommended.
A vein specialist can diagnose whether your nighttime symptoms are due to RLS or varicose veins. If you believe your nighttime restlessness is caused by varicose veins, here are four steps you can take before bedtime to ensure you’ll sleep soundly:
Change Your Sleeping Position. Something as simple as changing your sleeping position could help reduce varicose veins symptoms. Instead of reclining on your back or stomach, switch to sleeping on your left side. That’s helpful because the body’s largest vein, the vena cava, is on the right side. It’s responsible for pumping blood from the extremities back to the heart. When you sleep on the left side, you’re taking pressure off the vena cava, which promotes better circulation and lessens the chance of blood building up in the vein and causing a varicose vein. Another option is to prop your legs up about three to four inches with a pillow. This will encourage blood to flow upward to the heart and not pool in the leg veins.
Exercise More. Exercise, especially workouts that focus on engaging the calves like walking and biking, strengthens the muscles, which in turn supports the leg veins as they pump blood. The better able your veins circulate blood, the less likely you’ll experience the symptoms of varicose veins. (The one caveat is not to work out immediately before bedtime — that could keep you awake.) Plus, exercise helps you shed pounds. Carrying around extra pounds increases your chances of developing varicose veins, or can put more pressure on the veins. Therefore, keeping your weight at an ideal level will prevent varicose veins or reduce their symptoms.
Stretch More. Much like exercise, stretching your muscles during the day keeps your muscles limber. Tight muscles may contribute to cramping and swelling at night. Stretching your leg muscles before bedtime could be a relaxing way to ease into slumber and diminish the painful symptoms of varicose veins. Another way to keep muscles flexible is to drink plenty of water during the day.
Wear Compression Stockings. Make these elastic leg garments a part of your nighttime wardrobe. By gently squeezing the leg veins, blood flows more easily and prevents blood from pooling in the vein. Talk to your vein specialist about the size and compression level you need so the stockings won’t feel uncomfortable as you sleep.
Take Care of Your Veins And Sleep Better
If you find your varicose vein symptoms become more noticeable at night, it may be time to treat your veins and eliminate them altogether. The staff and physicians at Center for Vein Restoration offer several proven methods to treat varicose veins. Contact one of our locations today for a consultation.