Sleeping foot or leg

Sleeping foot or leg: a common complaint that is harmless in most cases. It is often due to a wrong attitude, but sometimes there is something else going on. Diabetes or another disease can also cause a sleeping leg or foot. The annoying thing is the feeling that disappears and often the painful sensations in the leg or foot. How do you deal with a sleeping limb?

What is a sleeping foot or leg?

A sleeping foot or leg is also experienced as a tingling or numb foot, sometimes the entire leg. There is little to no feeling in the foot/leg and walking is impossible or painful. Many people suffer from a sleeping leg, usually because the nerves or bloodstream are temporarily pinched. But there may also be an underlying disease or condition that causes the sleeping foot or leg. Unlike a sleeping arm or hand, which often occurs at night, a sleeping foot or leg usually occurs during the day.

First a numb feeling, later tingling

In most cases, a numb feeling first occurs, which is later followed by a tingling sensation. Some people miss the numb feeling and immediately experience the tingling sensation. The numb feeling occurs when nerves or blood vessels are pinched and all feeling disappears from the foot. The tingling sensation occurs when the feeling slowly returns. This is shown as tingling. In general, a sleeping leg is experienced as more annoying than just a sleeping foot.

Lower through the foot

When the foot or leg is ‘asleep’ as this is called, it is not advisable to stand on the foot. There is a chance that the leg will immediately fall through and end up on the ground. This is caused on the one hand by the absence of sensation, and on the other by the failure of the muscles and nerves in the leg or foot. Without blood supply, muscles cannot do their work and will therefore not respond. When the nerve is pinched or cut off from blood supply, it will not produce sensation.


An incorrect sitting position is often the cause of a sleeping foot. This is seen when the foot is folded under the leg while sitting. It is also possible that the thighs are pinched in a certain sitting position. People who sit on the toilet for a long time often hang more on their thighs, which can restrict the blood supply to the foot and lower leg.
There are also medical causes. For example, smoking is a risk factor. Smokers often suffer from restless legs and sleeping legs or feet. A deficiency of certain vitamins also plays a role, especially vitamin B12. Vascular problems in the groin or problems in the hips can prevent blood flow or pinch nerves. Fluid accumulation (edema) in the legs can also cause sleeping legs and feet. People with diabetes are at increased risk, as are people with multiple sclerosis. Pinched nerves such as in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are also a cause. In addition, a nerve in the back may also be pinched. People who participate in a certain sport such as cycling or horse riding also often complain about a sleeping foot or a sleeping leg. The complaints can occur in one foot or leg, but sometimes also in both at the same time.

To deal with

If a sleeping leg or foot occurs due to an underlying cause, it will need to be treated. In addition, it is advisable not to smoke, especially when there is restless legs in combination with sleeping limbs. It is a known problem in sports such as motorcycling, cycling and horse riding. Sometimes a different shoe can offer a solution, but often all that can be done is to move the foot regularly. A correct (sitting) posture can prevent a sleeping leg or foot.
When the leg or foot is asleep, do not step on it. Try moving the leg and rotating the ankle. Sometimes it helps to massage the skin well to get blood circulation going. When blood flow returns to the leg, it may start to tingle and even cause a stabbing pain, as if small pins were being stuck in the leg or foot. Continuing to massage relieves the pain and makes it disappear faster. Then try to stand carefully with support. Only when this feels good can the foot be loaded. If you often suffer from a sleeping leg or foot just after getting out of bed, it is better to wait before getting up and scan the leg first. This prevents unnecessary falls.

Scroll to Top