healthHealth and Medicinehealthmedicine

The Bar Of Soap Myth: No, It Can’t Combat Restless Leg Syndrome

Evidence in favor of the "remedy" is scant.


Maddy Chapman


Maddy Chapman

Copy Editor and Staff Writer

Maddy is a Copy Editor and Staff Writer at IFLScience, with a degree in biochemistry from the University of York.

Copy Editor and Staff Writer

Bar of soap on a bed

It probably won't do much for your cramps but at least it smells nice. Image credit: GarethWilley/

Can sleeping with soap really “cure” restless leg syndrome and cramps? It may seem like a bizarre question with an obvious answer (which is no, by the way, at least according to the science), but if you’re familiar with the internet’s favorite, or strangest, home remedies then you may be aware of this particular one that's been floating around online for over a decade.

Supposedly, placing a bar of soap in your bed helps to combat the discomfort and/or overwhelming urge to move your legs that is associated with the sleep disorder. But, as is often the case with such old wives' tales, the scientific evidence is lacking.


The idea has been pushed on television shows and in online forums, and was popularized by the likes of Dr Oz – the doctor and television personality who, it should be noted, has a history of making baseless medical claims.

“I know this sounds crazy, but people put [the soap] under their sheets," he reportedly said on his show back in 2010. "We think the lavender is relaxing and maybe itself beneficial.”

However, no research supports this claim that lavender soap has any benefit for restless leg syndrome or leg cramps. 

Columnist Ann Landers also advocated soap for treating leg cramps, according to Snopes, who fact-checked the myth back in 2005, coming to the conclusion it was “unproven” due to lack of evidence. “As to how this works – or even if it does – we're still in the dark,” they wrote.


Ardent fans of the soap cure believe it could be down to magnesium or, like Dr Oz, lavender in the soap relaxing the muscles, but these claims are unsubstantiated. One study did find that massaging lavender oil into the legs of people with restless leg syndrome improved symptoms, but it seems unlikely that lavender scent might diffuse from a bar of soap and have the same effect in a leg it wasn’t touching.

There is some discrepancy amongst those who believe in the remedy as to how it should be carried out. Apparently, there is more to consider when sleeping with soap than you might think. Some say the soap should be wrapped, others unwrapped. Some prefer large bars and some small. Some say soap should be placed at the foot of the bed, whereas others say at the site of the cramps. Some advise to avoid certain brands, Dial and Dove for example, while others disagree.

But what we can all agree on is that there is no scientific basis for these claims. Of course, it is possible that a placebo effect could be at play: simply believing in the trick could make people think their symptoms are relieved, which would certainly explain the anecdotal evidence behind it.

For treatments that do come backed by science, there are medications that can be prescribed. The UK's National Health Service also recommends certain lifestyle changes, including avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, and exercising regularly, which may help. As may baths, a massage, or a hot compress.


healthHealth and Medicinehealthmedicine
  • tag
  • medicine,

  • soap,

  • sleep,

  • myth,

  • cramp,

  • sleep disorders,

  • restless leg syndrome