Varicose Veins & Sleep

Is varicose vein pain worse at night?

Like any condition that results in pain or discomfort, varicose veins can interfere with the quality of your sleep, leading to tiredness and low energy levels the next day. When you’re lying in bed at night, you’ll have fewer things to distract you – so you’re more likely to notice aches and pains that are less obvious during your busy day.

If you spend a lot of your time standing or sitting during the day, varicose vein symptoms such as swelling can get worse. Muscle cramps are another symptom often associated with varicose veins – and cramps can even wake you up. Then there’s worrying about your varicose veins, which is enough to give anyone sleepless nights.

 

Feeling restless?

While restless leg syndrome (RLS) and varicose veins are two different conditions, they can present in similar ways. Itchiness, cramping and throbbing are all symptoms of both conditions. If, however, you experience uncontrollable leg movements, you should seek medical advice for RLS.

 

How can I sleep better with varicose veins?

Health experts agree that sleep is important – and you know how you feel if you’re not getting enough rest. If varicose veins are disturbing your rest, here are our top tips for a better night.

If you suffer from varicose veins, planning for better sleep starts a long time before you turn off the lights.

 

Stay active

Avoid long periods of sitting or standing, especially in the same position. Try and step away from your desk every hour or so, and do gentle stretching exercises to help relax you and boost your circulation. You can also do yoga just before you turn in for the night, for the same reasons

 

Drink up!

Hydration is vital for healthy circulation. However, drinking a lot of water just before bedtime could lead to disturbed sleep for different reasons. Rather try and drink water regularly throughout the day for maximum benefit.

 

Wear compression stockings

Wearing compression stockings during the day can help keep moving blood back towards your heart. You can learn more about the benefits of compression stockings here – but remember that they are not intended to be worn whilst sleeping.

 

And relax…

Worrying about varicose veins (or COVID-19, or money) is an easy trap to fall into. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or breathing exercises before bedtime to get your body – and your mind – ready for a well-earned rest.

 

Cut down on your screen time

No, there’s no direct connection between watching TV and varicose veins (although sitting in one position for a long time can exacerbate them). However, blue light from screens can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin (also known as the ‘sleep chemical’).

Too much blue light will disrupt your natural body clock, leading to you lying awake at night. That’s when you’ll start to notice the aches and pains in your legs, and worry about varicose veins – all of which will make it even harder to fall asleep.

 

Sleeping with the enemy

Once you’re in bed, elevate your feet slightly. You can use a pillow or a rolled-up blanket. That will make your feet higher than your heart, reduce the pressure on your legs and means that gravity will assist the blood flow back to your heart.

Your largest vein, the vena cava, runs up the right side of your body – by sleeping on your left side, you can reduce the pressure on this major blood vessel and give your overall circulation a helping hand.

 

Put your mind at rest

If varicose vein pain is leading to hours of counting sheep each night, get relief by arranging a consultation with Dr Francois Steyn on 012 993 4161 or 012 993 0911, or at francois@surgeon.co.za