by Sam Malone

Restlessness may seem like a vague symptom but it is something a lot of people suffer from. There are different conditions, of which restlessness is an important symptom.  In itself, it can be tiring without any apparent relief if you don’t know what is causing the restlessness. Restlessness is usually aggravated at night especially when coupled with anxiety. Before you wonder what causes your restlessness, you need to understand restlessness better.

What is Restlessness? It is the body’s innate response to something that could cause some form of stress – physical or mental. When you are restless, your heart rate accelerates, your breathing quickens and you are not able to concentrate on anything in particular. Eventually, the restlessness and its resultant actions fade. Restlessness before big situations like job interviews or big decisions is normal but constant restlessness is not. Constant restlessness keeps your body in a perpetual state of ‘fight or flight’ mode. The night tends to amplify everything and restlessness at night tends to be worse off for your mind and body.


The main causes of restlessness are usually secondary conditions like a physical condition or a psychological disorder. Main disorders can conditions includes:
  • Anxiety and related disorders like panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder and even post trauma stress disorder can all cause restlessness in varying degrees.
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome
  • Restless Leg Syndrome is one of the conditions you could suffer from if you are constantly restless. This disorder causes you to constantly move your leg or legs. Though this condition is mostly genetic, some diseases can cause this symptom; including the irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. Patients could see extreme restlessness with IBS. Typically, in restless leg syndrome, patients move their legs because they feel a tingling or a cramping in the legs, which reduces when moved.
  • Boredom
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Drugs-related behaviour – drug abuse, lethal drug combinations or just medications which have known side effects that cause restlessness
  • Hyperthyroidism

While you may not suffer from any condition, some other factors could also result in restlessness. Eating very heavily at night or just bingeing on sugar could result in an adrenaline rush which could result in restlessness. If you know you are prone to restlessness, keep your intake of refined foods to a minimum. Choose foods that are more complex in nature and get digested slowly.

Stimulating yourself too close to bed time or getting stressed too close to your sleep time can also make you restless. Avoid alcohol, caffeine or other artificial stimulants if you are prone to restlessness.


Restlessness primarily involves not being able to be still. Your head or brain will be constantly occupied with some thoughts leading to anxiety. The anxiety will increase and create physical symptoms. Some of those physical symptoms are:
  • Inability to Sleep – You will thrash around, turning in bed, tossing the covers and not being able to sleep peacefully
  • Eventually, long term restlessness can lead to fatigue, insomnia, nightmares, and even interfere with your sexual ability.

Restlessness is a symptom for so many diseases that when coupled with some other symptom, it almost always represents some other condition.

Try holistic methods like yoga, meditation, writing a journal or relaxation techniques to deal with restlessness. Get a routine like getting to bed on time, exercising at a fixed time during the day, eating at fixed times and keeping special time slots for unwinding before bed. If such methods don’t help you then you might need to get a full check-up done to determine what the cause is behind the restlessness is.



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