I’ve touched on magnesium before, but what about Iron? If you have a restless sleeper at home, iron might just solve the sleep issue. Before I get into it, I need to state this little disclaimer. I’m not a doctor or a professional research scientist. Both roles could have been on the cards, but I chose another direction. I am a behavioural sleep specialist with a fascination for all things sleep-related. And I follow the latest research and studies in the field whenever I can. Typically, when I write my blogs, I like to rely on peer-reviewed studies that have been evaluated, replicated, and borne out conclusive evidence to support them, but today I’m focusing on something that’s still on the speculative side, since it’s a relatively new theory. It’s a super interesting one for anyone with a seemingly “restless” baby though.
Why is baby restless?
When a parent tells me they have a restless baby, I have a series of questions I tend to ask in order to determine whether it’s due to a “sleep prop.” That’s sleep-industry terminology for something that baby has grown dependent on in order to get to sleep. Breastfeeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, sucking on a pacifier and pram rides, are all examples of these “sleep props.” And most of the time I find that, yes, reliance on the sleep prop is the problem, and we address it. And things get significantly better in just a few nights. But every once in a while, there are other issues at play. Something beyond the standard prop dependency. There are babies or children who seem like they’re just more, well, restless than usual. They’re much more animated when they sleep, and they tend to flail around and have a hard time getting into a deep sleep. Sometimes magnesium and more sleep resolves this. But what if that’s not enough? I first heard mention of an interesting theory during the 2019 World Sleep Conference and was really interested to hear more about it. I didn’t want to write about it until a little more string had been played out in the research department. And even though it is still too early to state anything unequivocally, I thought the time might be right to at least share what I’ve learned so far, so here goes…
Iron is an essential trace mineral
We’re all familiar with iron, right? Everybody knows about iron, the essential mineral that helps red blood cells carry oxygen around the body. That function right there makes iron one downright essential component of our circulatory system and therefore our overall health. Iron deficiency, commonly known as anaemia, also happens to be the single most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. The vast majority of those cases are in developing countries, but the numbers in North America and Europe are still alarmingly high. So, in short, a LOT of people aren’t getting enough iron.
Could it be Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?
Now, if you follow health news, you’ve also probably heard about something called Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). If you’re not familiar, RLS, also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is exactly what it sounds like; a condition that makes your legs feel restless. People with RLS describe the sensation as an irresistible urge to move accompanied by uncomfortable sensations in their lower limbs. Standing up and moving their legs typically remedies the feeling almost instantly, but only temporarily. Symptoms occur more frequently when individuals are sleeping or lying down. RLS is also a bit of a mystery when it comes to its cause.