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Do Your Limbs Often ‘Fall Asleep’?

When we temporarily slow circulation to one of our limbs by sitting or lying down in an awkward position, our body warns us with an unpleasant prickling feeling. When we start to feel those “pins and needles,” we instinctively want to wiggle that limb around to encourage circulation. 


It’s important to notice when and how often you feel your limbs falling asleep. If it happens every now and then, and you can cure it by changing your position or walking around for a few minutes, it’s probably normal and benign. 


Sometimes you can link frequent pins and needles to a piece of furniture. For example, a poorly designed sofa can force you into a physical position that cuts off circulation to your legs. Maybe a firm cushion topper can make that piece of furniture usable again. 


If your arms or legs fall asleep a lot, regardless of where and how you are sitting, the blockage may be inside your blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is caused by a diet high in fatty cholesterol and is made worse by tobacco use. “Bad cholesterol” is found in fatty foods like red meat, poultry, and dairy products, and it leaves deposits of cholesterol inside the blood vessels that turn into hard plaque. This plaque makes the blood vessels narrower and less able to deliver blood through the body. Your body tries to warn you that it isn’t getting enough blood with the same “pins and needles” sensation, but the cure is a lot more complicated than a quick walk or wiggle. An interventional cardiologist, vascular doctor, or other circulation specialist can help determine if your limbs are frequently falling asleep due to a problem with your blood vessels.

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