Air travel with Restless Legs Syndrome

Is a long haul flight too difficult for suffers of Restless Legs Syndrome?

Air travel with Restless Legs Syndrome

Maria is planning a trip to Europe next month, but as she suffers from Restless Legs Syndrome, she is concerned that the long flight may be too much for her to cope with.

Q. Maria

I am planning to visit my sister in Italy next month to celebrate her 75th birthday, but in recent years I have suffered from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Do you think the flight, which is more than 20 hours, will be too much for me?


Spending more than 20 hours sitting in the one spot is never going to be the most comfortable travel experience, especially if you suffer from RLS. But rather than abandoning your travel plans altogether Maria, there are some steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms and make your journey more comfortable.

It is thought that RLS may be caused by an iron deficiency. It would be a good idea to see your GP in the next week or so and have your iron levels checked. If they are low you will still have time to start a course of iron replacement tablets before you leave for Italy. Other underlying conditions, such as diabetes or sleep deprivation, may make RLS worse, so talk with your GP about ways of managing these ailments.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before and during your flight. As you will be sitting still for such a long period, make sure you do arm, leg and foot stretching exercises while you are seated and when possible, get up and walk up and down the aisles. Wear compression stockings to increase blood flow in your lower legs. And most importantly, drink lots of water and try to get some sleep.

To keep yourself as comfortable as possible, when booking your flight request a seat with plenty of legroom. You can find out which seat, on any given airplane type, would best suit your needs at


    To make a comment, please register or login
    27th Sep 2014
    Obtain an aisle seat then free to get up and walk about without disturbing the 1 or 2 passengers alongside you. This together with plenty of water will keep blood circulating, you the airline or travel agent can prebook your flight and do register for the frequent flyer programme or check if the airline is an affiliate of any programmes you already belong to. If stopping over en route make at least a 2 night stay. Travel while YOU CAN......RAY
    28th Sep 2014
    drink tonic water, it works for me

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