What causes restlessness and how can it be treated?

Symptom Database

Restlessness is a common condition that many people experience at some point in their lives. It can manifest in various ways, such as difficulty sitting still, constant fidgeting, or a general sense of unease. While occasional restlessness is normal, chronic restlessness can be disruptive and affect one’s overall well-being. In this article, we will explore the causes of restlessness and discuss effective ways to manage and treat it.

Restlessness Symptoms

Before delving into the causes and treatments, it is important to understand the symptoms associated with restlessness. These may include:

  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Frequent movement or fidgeting
  • Feeling on edge or agitated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
  • Impatience
  • Restless leg syndrome

These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, depending on the individual and underlying causes.

Causes of Restlessness

Restlessness can have various causes, both physical and psychological. Understanding the underlying factors can help in finding effective ways to manage and treat it. Some common causes of restlessness include:

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are major contributors to restlessness. When we are under stress, our bodies release stress hormones that can lead to a constant state of alertness and restlessness. Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder, can also cause restlessness as a symptom.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. This condition can cause restlessness, especially during periods of inactivity or at night, leading to difficulty falling asleep.

Medication Side Effects

Some medications, such as certain antidepressants or stimulants, can cause restlessness as a side effect. If you suspect that your restlessness is related to medication, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to explore alternative options.


Hyperthyroidism, a condition characterized by an overactive thyroid gland, can lead to restlessness and irritability. The excess production of thyroid hormones can increase metabolism and cause a range of symptoms, including restlessness.

Dealing with Restlessness

While restlessness can be challenging to manage, there are several strategies that can help alleviate symptoms and promote a sense of calm. Here are some tips for managing restlessness:

Engage in Physical Activity

Regular exercise can help reduce restlessness by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Engaging in activities such as walking, jogging, or yoga can help channel excess energy and promote relaxation.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, can help calm the mind and body. These techniques can be particularly beneficial before bedtime to promote better sleep.

Establish a Routine

Creating a structured daily routine can provide a sense of stability and reduce restlessness. Set specific times for meals, exercise, work, and relaxation to establish a balanced and predictable schedule.

Avoid Stimulants

Stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can exacerbate restlessness. Limiting or avoiding these substances, especially in the evening, can help promote better sleep and reduce restlessness.

Natural Remedies for Restlessness

In addition to lifestyle changes, certain natural remedies can help alleviate restlessness. While these remedies may not work for everyone, they are worth exploring:

Valerian Root

Valerian root is a herbal supplement that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. It can be taken in capsule form or as a tea.

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil has calming properties and can be used in aromatherapy or applied topically. Adding a few drops to a diffuser or bath can help promote relaxation and reduce restlessness.


Passionflower is a natural remedy that has been used to treat anxiety and restlessness. It can be consumed as a tea or taken in supplement form.


Restlessness can be a challenging condition to deal with, but with the right strategies and treatments, it can be effectively managed. By understanding the underlying causes and implementing lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, relaxation techniques, and avoiding stimulants, individuals can find relief from restlessness. Additionally, natural remedies like valerian root, lavender essential oil, and passionflower may provide further support. If restlessness persists or significantly impacts daily life, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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