Health & Wellbeing

Leg Cramps at Night: Regaining Restful Sleep

Leg Cramps at Night: Regaining Restful Sleep

Have you ever woken up in the night to painful leg twitches or cramps? These involuntary muscle contractions can ruin sleep quality and leave you feeling sore and tired. So, what are the causes of leg cramps and how can the pain be alleviated?

What are leg cramps?

Nighttime leg cramps (also known as nocturnal leg cramps), are sudden and often intense muscle spasms that largely impact the calf muscle but can also occur in other parts of the legs and feet. These spasms can span several minutes and, for some, residual pain in the muscle can remain for hours after the cramp is gone.1 Most often occurring in bed or while resting, the underlying cause of these cramps is not always clear. However, there are some risk factors and management strategies that can be implemented to lower the likelihood of them happening, and aid when they do.

Why are my legs cramping?

There are certain circumstances that can increase the risk of cramps occurring. If you are prone to cramping, consider if any of these circumstances may be exacerbating the problem:

  • Overusing the Muscle: Muscle fatigue, from over exercising or prolonged standing, can lead to cramps at night.2
  • Dehydration: Lack of fluid intake can result in an electrolyte imbalance that can cause leg cramps.3
  • Pregnancy: Changing hormones and increased stress to leg muscles in pregnancy can result increased instances of leg cramps. In fact, around 40% of people will experience cramps during pregnancy.4
  • Prolonged Sitting: Sitting for long periods of time, such as when working daily at a desk, can increase risk of cramping at night.5
  • Mineral Deficits: Certain mineral deficiencies can increase the risk of cramps.6
  • Some Medications: Some medications can also increase the risk of nocturnal leg cramps.7
How do I manage my leg cramps?

There are several strategies that can effectively manage cramping and lower the chance of them occurring in the first place:

  • Stretch it out: Stretching before exercise or going to bed can reduce the frequency of nocturnal cramping.8 Wall push-ups or standing calf stretches are quick and simple stretches that target the areas where common cramping occurs.
  • Hydrate: Staying well hydrated, especially during and after working out, is key to maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance and minimising the likelihood of cramping.9 Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can also aid in remaining hydrated.
  • Warm/Cool Treatments: Taking a warm bath before bed can help to soothe the muscle and promote relaxed sleep. Equally, applying a warm or cool pad to the muscle area while it is cramping can grant pain relief for some people.10
  • Review Medications: Started a new mediation and begun experiencing cramps? If this becomes an issue for you, speak to your doctor about the possibility of moving to an alternative medication or other ways of managing cramping.
  • Balanced Diet: Eating a mineral rich and varied diet can help prevent deficiencies that may trigger leg cramps.11 The use of an over-the-counter muscle health focused supplement can also aid in complementing a healthy diet. We recommend the Crampeze range.

Cramps can happen to anyone but become more common with age.12 Although frustrating and sometimes painful, they can usually be managed with self-care techniques. However, if your cramps are persistent, unusually severe, accompanied by other symptoms (such as swelling, redness, or skin changes), or are otherwise disrupting your quality of life please seek medical attention from a healthcare professional.

Our Recommendations:

Crampeze
Crampeze Forte

Sources:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14170-leg-cramps
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-prevent-leg-cramps-and-treat-them-at-home/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-cramp/symptoms-causes/syc-20350820#:~:text=A%20muscle%20cramp%20is%20a,also%20might%20cause%20muscle%20cramps

Endnotes:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14170-leg-cramps
2https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-cramp/symptoms-causes/syc-20350820#:~:text=A%20muscle%20cramp%20is%20a,also%20might%20cause%20muscle%20cramps
3https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-prevent-leg-cramps-and-treat-them-at-home/
4https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-cramp/symptoms-causes/syc-20350820#:~:text=A%20muscle%20cramp%20is%20a,also%20might%20cause%20muscle%20cramps
5https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-cramp/symptoms-causes/syc-20350820#:~:text=A%20muscle%20cramp%20is%20a,also%20might%20cause%20muscle%20cramps
6https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14170-leg-cramps
7https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-prevent-leg-cramps-and-treat-them-at-home/
8https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14170-leg-cramps
9https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-prevent-leg-cramps-and-treat-them-at-home/
10https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14170-leg-cramps
11https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14170-leg-cramps
12https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14170-leg-cramps

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