What if your foot, leg or hand is asleep? Tips for tingling

If you lie or sit in the same position for too long, you will experience a tingling sensation in the limbs. We all know the numb, tingling feeling of a foot or arm that is “asleep”. Sometimes we get up with it in the morning if, for example, we have slept with an arm under our head. The main cause of these tingling sensations is a prolonged position that prevents the blood supply to the nerves. But there may also be other causes of these tingling sensations in the feet, arms, legs or hands. How can you prevent and combat tingling and what tips are useful?

When your foot goes “asleep”

Suppose you sit in the same position for a long time in the evening watching TV, and when you get up you feel a strange feeling in your foot. It is a numb feeling , where it is as if small pricks are constantly being injected into your foot. It is as if you no longer have any feeling in your foot and as if it is just hanging from your leg. It is sometimes said colloquially that “your foot is sleeping”. This is the medical phenomenon of parasthesia .

Tingling in hands, arms and legs

The phenomenon of your foot going “asleep” can also be felt in other limbs, such as the hands, arms and legs . You will usually experience the feeling that your arms or hands are asleep if you hold the same position for too long. A sleeping hand can be very annoying because it prevents you from having full feeling in your hands, making it difficult to grip things, write or work on your PC. But these tingling sensations most often occur in the feet.

Causes of tingling

Alarm signal

Usually the cause of these tingling sensations is harmless. The problem is that in a certain position you restrict the blood supply to a limb and to the nerves, preventing them from functioning properly. Because these nerves are pinched, they can no longer carry out commands from the brain to the muscles. That is why the body reacts with tingling sensations: these should alert you that a problem is developing and that you need to change your position. These tingling sensations in legs, arms, hands or feet are therefore an alarm signal that the nerves in those specific places are pinched.


Postures that can lead to the “sleeping” feeling in your limbs include standing for a long time at a concert or an event where you have to wait in line. Another culprit could be wearing constricting shoes : this means that the foot cannot be sufficiently supplied with blood. Also common is sitting with your legs crossed, or reading in a lying position on the bed, supporting your head with your elbow.

How to treat “sleeping” limbs?

Logically, a sleeping foot or hand will come back to life if you get it moving again. After all, sitting or standing still for too long is the cause of the problem. If your foot feels really numb and weird, wait a while before actively moving it. Place it on a cold floor tile: this will quickly stimulate the blood supply and your tingling sensations will disappear like snow in the sun. If your hand or arm is sleeping, it is best to place it on a cold surface such as steel. A tip to prevent tingling is to change your position in time if you feel even the beginning of a tingling sensation.

Other causes

If you often suffer from tingling without a clear cause at first glance (for example, you have not sat still in the same position for too long), then there may be another cause at play. One of the following conditions may be the cause of your tingling:

  • hernia
  • diabetes
  • stroke
  • neuropathy (including due to chronic alcohol abuse)
  • vitamin B12 deficiency
  • multiple sclerosis
  • thyroid problems
  • muscle overload (e.g. sports, physical work)
  • restless legs syndrome (RBS)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome


Tingling treatment

Address the cause

In the aforementioned cases, it is important to have the causes in question, especially the underlying diseases or conditions, treated so that the tingling sensation can disappear. The treatment of the various diseases or conditions can, for example, consist of medication (e.g. diabetes), a cortisone injection (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome) or surgery (e.g. hernia). In case of overload, it is especially important to give the body rest.

Vitamin B12

In the case of a vitamin B12 deficiency, taking extra vitamin B12 through nutritional supplements may be appropriate. In this way, the vitamin B12 deficiency can be supplemented after a few weeks and the tingling may disappear.


Another tip is to apply a cream or gel that supports the functioning of the veins and promotes blood circulation. This allows the sleeping feeling in the legs to gradually disappear. If you have restless legs syndrome (RBS), you can apply a gel against restless legs to the legs.

read more

  • Heavy legs? Causes & tips for better blood circulation
  • Swollen feet or legs after a long trip? Tips
  • Cramps in your feet? Treatment & tips for foot cramps
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