People who had experienced night cramps know what nightmare they are. They wake you during your sleep and ruin everything. Night leg cramps in fact, are calf muscles contractions which occur suddenly during the night within rest periods.
Contractions can occur in the feet or other muscles as well
The cramps last from a couple of seconds to a few minutes. Even when the pain disappears, the muscle soreness might remain for additional minutes. Everyone can get leg cramps, no matter of their age. But, middle-aged people and older are more likely to have it. Teenagers and people who do some exercise can often have it. Although the cause of leg cramps remains mystery, the following factors might contribute to this painful issue:
Hydration is vital for a healthy mind and body. It influences the muscles performance since water helps them to relax and comprises 75% of muscle tissue. It also plays a major role for proper nutrient circulation in the body. Without it, muscles would lack the essential nutrients and provoke electrolytes imbalances. Therefore, if you have proper hydration levels, then you are less likely to experience night leg cramp.
Imbalance of electrolytes of any kind (potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium) in our body might lead to night leg cramps. These minerals enable proper work of the muscles. At the same time, they are responsible for both muscle contractions and nerve impulses. Sodium maintains a balance of bodily fluids, potassium works together with chloride and sodium in order to generate electrical impulses in the nerves and muscles, calcium plays is responsible for nerve impulses generation, and magnesium stabilizes ATP – adenosine triphosphate, which is the energy source for contractions in the muscle. So, if you lack any of the above mentioned minerals, you are likely to have leg cramps.
Overexertion or Prolonged Standing
Standing while wearing non-fitting shoes or high heels or prolonged standing lead to overexertion or muscle fatigue, thus causing night leg cramps. In a 2012 study it was proved that prolonged standing at work place increases the risk of leg cramps or varicose veins. To prevent such problems, you have to prevent or reduce prolonged standing at work.
Pregnant women in the 2nd trimester are more likely to have night leg cramps, which can be of various intensity. They might appear as a result of a pressure of the uterus over particular nerves, or of extreme fatigue, or reduced leg circulation because of baby pressuring over certain blood vessels.
A low amount of thyroid hormones can provoke night calf cramps and muscle weakness. These thyroid hormones influence calcium utilization and absorption. Calcium deficiency is connected with muscle pain, numbness, or cramps.
Diabetes might cause night leg cramp as well. In fact, leg cramps are a sign of diabetic neuropathy. People suffering of diabetes can experience severe pain in the leg muscles, tingling, or numbness. Increased levels of sugar in the blood provoke excessive urination or dehydration, thus leading to nocturnal leg cramps.
The excessive alcohol consumption may damage the peripheral nerves, thus causing alcohol neuropathy that is usually characterized by muscle cramps and leg pain. Having a diuretic effect, alcohol leads to dehydration and a magnesium deficiency. Excess alcohol consumption increases the lactic acid in the body, which in turn cause cramps and pain.
Medications like diuretics or statins might provoke nocturnal cramps, since they cause loss of electrolytes and water from the body, leading to leg cramps. Birth control pills such as antipsychotics and steroids also causes leg cramps.
Tips on how to prevent night leg cramps:
Drink plenty of water and other healthy beverages to prevent dehydration.
Consume sport drinks rich in electrolytes
Avoid consumption of coffee or alcohol
In case you have leg cramp, massage your leg muscle for 10 minutes
Before bedtime, massage your leg muscles in order to reduce the risk of leg cramp and to ease muscle tension while sleeping.
Or, ride your stationary bike for 15 minutes before bedtime
Keep your blankets or bed sheets loose around your feet so not to distort your toes
Include magnesium-rich food into your diet, such as seeds or nuts. But, pregnant women should not take magnesium supplements
Walking after a leg cramp will send a signal to your brain that the muscles need to relax, in order to accelerate the recovery
Include potassium-rich food into your diet, such as bananas, dates, grapes, fish, broccoli, pork, oranges, lamb, grapefruit, apricots, and cabbage
Other included sources linked in Health And Healthy Living’s article: