Popular Science: Restless sleep is an umbrella term for a varied range of behaviors people experience while sleeping, and that prevent them from getting proper rest at night, including restless legs syndrome (RLS).
“People with RLS will often experience an itching or burning sensation which is relieved by movement,” said Alex Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine in California. “These symptoms occur in both legs, and often get worse in the evening, closer to bedtime, and can keep people awake.”
The hallmarks are pretty visible: kicking, jerking, twitching, and frequently moving legs. RLS patients feel exhausted when they wake up, even after sleeping for a full 8 hours. And they’re not the only ones—their partners are usually exhausted, as well.
There are a few quick fixes that can help relieve your partner’s urge to move at night. Bringing these up as something you can do together will help them feel supported and prevent them from experiencing guilt over their sleep issues.
Nix the caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol for two or three hours before bed. Establishing a regular bedtime and a regular time to wake up in the morning is a simple intervention that will help condition the body to fall asleep easily, Dimitriu says.
The type of bed you have can make a big difference. “A mattress that better isolates movement, such as a memory foam mattress, may make it easier to tolerate the movements of a bed partner,” Dimitriu says.