Once upon a time there were a gazillion people who woke up in the night with painful leg cramps. Then along came another group of people (old wives, perhaps) who told a fantastic tale of a cure for this nighttime pain. “What is it?” the people asked, expecting this miracle cure to cost them much gold and silver. But the answer left them speechless, for it was something all could afford — a bar of soap placed beneath the sheet.
You’ve probably heard this old wives tale. You may have even tried it. If you or a loved one has restless leg syndrome (RLS) or some other type of nighttime leg cramps, you know exactly what it’s like. Caused by an involuntary contraction of your leg muscles, people often wake with a sudden sharp pain. Others feel a need to move their legs, often accompanied by an aching or twitching sensation. One sufferer described it as a creepy crawly feeling. Almost always there’s the feeling that you need to move around to get rid of it. You might stand up and try to walk to ease the pain or massage your leg until the pain goes away. None of these options lead to a good night’s sleep. So if this happens with any frequency, you’d be willing to try just about anything to make it stop, right? But soap?
Some say it all began with Ann Landers. If you’re a senior – or even a Baby Boomer – you probably made reading her daily advice column a part of your routine for decades. So while she wasn’t a medical expert by any means, her advice was heeded successfully more often than not. So when she printed the soap trick as a cure for leg cramps, word spread fast. It’s cheap. It’s easy. And if it doesn’t work, well, who needs to know you tried it? But does it work?
Well, many years have passed and it seems the jury is still out. But the consensus seems to be…it’s worth a try! The medical community tends to agree that there is no solid scientific medical reason why it would — or even should – work. Although when pushed for a reason, some credit the cure to a release of magnesium and others claim it’s due to the relaxing smell associated with lavender. But ask the community at large and you’ll get an entirely different story. According to a recent survey done by The Doctors TV show, as many as 42 percent of respondents had tried the soap trick!
Experts suggest – and some people agree – that the “cure” is simply due to a placebo effect. Simply stated, if you think it’s going to work, then it will. It’s all in your mind and you feel better because you will yourself to feel better. But others have refuted this theory with recounts of people who get relief only to have their cramps return. Just about the time they figure it was all in their mind, they discover that the soap fell out of sheets and has by lying underneath the bed.
So while there is no definitive answer, the results do seem to be “either-or.” Either you get relief on your first try or you never will. There are very few cases where repeated use has eventually made it work. Or where sufferers have found success and only to have it suddenly stop working.
So the real answer then, is this. Why not give it a try? If you already have chronic leg cramps, what do you have to lose? The soap cure isn’t expensive. Or complicated. You don’t even have to see your doctor to get a prescription!
So here’s the rundown.
If you have a stash of soap in your bathroom, as many of us do, go find yourself a nice bar. If not, head to the grocery store!
It seems that you can use any brand – and any size – even the small ones you get in a hotel. (Since some people do prefer one brand to another, if at first you don’t succeed, well, try another brand before giving up!)
Unwrap the soap.
Conventional wisdom says to place it underneath your bottom sheet and on top of the mattress pad (although some people have found success just placing it loose between the top and bottom sheets).
Go to bed. Go to sleep. And wake up the next day — rested.
And just so you know…for most folks, the relief is immediate and continues to work as long as the soap remains in place. After a month or two, replace the soap – users report that it loses its curative effect after time. And if you don’t like the idea of a hard bar of soap in your bed, some people have had success by rubbing the inside of a pair of socks with soap and then wearing them to bed.
You don’t really need to know why the soap remedy works – as long as it has a happy ending.
And whether you have leg cramps or not, you’ll never be judged if you try the soap trick while living at Discovery Village Senior Living Community! It’s senior living at its finest. And if the soap doesn’t do the trick, their onsite health and wellness staff just might have a few other tricks up their sleeve.
Discovery Village at Palm Beach Gardens offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 561.220.0078.