Cramps are a sudden and painful contraction of a muscle. Leg cramps, especially on the calf muscles, occur as you fall asleep or as you wake up. However, sometimes the cramps can be in the thigh or foot.
Causes of Leg Cramps at Night
Although exact causes of these cramps are not known, there are many reasons for it to occur. Some of them are:
- Sometimes, too much exercise, an injury or even excessive pressure to the muscle can lead to leg cramps
- Dehydration is another reason
- Pregnant women having deficiency of calcium and magnesium have high risk of leg cramps
- Cold environment or exposure to cold water may be one of the reasons for leg cramps
- Another reason might be deficiency of potassium and calcium in the bloodstream
- Sitting in a single position for hours, standing on hard surfaces for extended periods, or sleeping in awkward positions.
- Certain medications such as birth control, diuretics, antipsychotics, and steroids.
- Medical conditions affecting the kidney, thyroid, and multiple sclerosis.
Treating Leg Cramps At Night
There are many ways you can ease the cramp. Try these methods, and you will know how to treat leg cramps at night.
Simply stretching the muscle that is cramping will give you instant relief. If you were sleeping in an awkward position, make sure you be aware of it the next time. Stretch the muscle gently by pumping your heel up and down and then hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat the process until the cramp eases up. This is one way how you can treat leg cramps at night.
- Heat Remedy
Use a heat pack directly to the muscle, as it can be a very effective method to relax the muscle. You can use a heat pack on the muscle when you experience leg cramps at night. Take a warm shower before going to sleep to use this technique for prevention.
Although this method might take longer than other methods, it will go a long way in addressing the root cause of leg cramps at night. Make sure to add squeeze some lemon in the water to replenish any lost electrolytes. Use this method in conjunction with other treatment methods. As always, ensure that you are drinking 1.5 to 2L of water every day to avoid leg cramps.
Getting up from the bed and walking about for a few minutes can be a great solution to leg cramps at night. Since you are moving, your brain sends messages to the muscles that they have to contract and relax. Once you walk around for a few minutes, check if the muscle is still stiff. If not, your cramp should have reduced by itself.
- OTC Pain Medication
If the pain in your legs does not reduce, then you can consider pain medications. Ibuprofen is a good medicine to use for leg cramps at night. Before you take any over-the-counter pain medication, it is advised that you consult with your doctor. They will kow how to treat leg cramps that occur during the night.
Preventing Leg Cramps at Night
If you thinking how to treat and prevent leg cramps at night, then the following tips would be helpful. As with any condition, prevention is the key to a richer lifestyle. There are many ways to prevent this condition. Few of them are pointed out here:
- Avoid alcohol as it can dehydrate your body.
- Drink plenty of water. While the experts are divided on how much water you need, a thumb rule is to drink enough water so that your urine runs clear or is, at worst, light yellow in color.
- Have a healthy diet rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. This is especially true if you are pregnant.
- Stretch your muscles daily, especially before and after exercise and just before going to bed.
- Do not start any new physical activity suddenly. Increase the amount of physical effort slowly and steadily such that your body gets used to it.
- Use a bike to tone and strengthen the muscles in your legs.
- Use multivitamin supplements to make up for any gaps.
- Make sure that the sheets you use at night are untucked and do not restrict any movement while you sleep.
Consulting a Doctor
Leg cramps at night can be, at best, a nuisance. Once you learn how to treat the leg cramps at night and incorporate the lifestyle changes quickly, you will soon be relieved of the condition. However, sometimes the cramps might need more medical attention. You must see your doctor if the cramps are not letting you get enough sleep at night. A cause for concern is when the lack of sleep interferes with your daily routine. The cramps might also result in the weakening of the muscles over time. It is imperative that you tell your doctor about all the medications you are on. Once they prescribe medications for your leg cramps, make sure you take the prescribed dosage.
Leg cramps at night can be a nuisance, but with the right treatment, you will soon be have a sound sleep every night.