Night leg cramps or nocturnal leg cramps are sudden involuntary muscle pains that stir up in your legs at night. It can occur in calf muscles (which spans from ankle to knee) and in the thighs.  Leg cramps at night can disturb your sleep, make your legs feel uncomfortable, and can tighten up the muscles of your legs. It can happen when you are active at night or when you are asleep. 

Causes Of Night Leg Cramps

Night leg cramps are idiopathic, that is, their cause is not defined. But it could be because at nights we stretch our legs away from our body which shortens the calf muscles. This causes leg cramps at night. Here are a few factors that can increase the risk of sudden leg cramps at night: 

Being Stationary

Muscles must be stretched regularly in order to operate properly. Leg muscles may become more sensitive to cramping if they are not moved for lengthy periods.

Overworked Muscles

Excessive exercise can result in overworked muscles, which can lead to muscle cramps.

Long Periods Of Sitting 

Side view young woman sitting at table working using computer take break touching massaging lower back feels discomfort after long sedentary studying, poor posture, incorrect stooped position concept

Sitting for lengthy periods of time with your legs crossed or your toes pointed shortens the calf muscles and results in leg cramps at night.

Long Periods Of Standing

People who stand for long periods of time are more prone to get nocturnal leg cramps, according to research.

Tendon Shortening

It is a condition in which the tendons become short. Tendons, which connect muscles and bones, naturally shrink with age. It may result in muscle cramps.

Potassium Deficiency 

Night time leg cramps can be caused by potassium deficiency in the blood. This can be solved by eating foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, oranges, and a few dried fruits. 

Products containing potassium. Healthy food concept. Space for text, top view

Who Can Be Affected With Night Cramps?

Night cramps usually occur in old people as their tendons tend to get short with age. It also occurs in women and 40% of teenagers and children.

Leg Cramps May Also Signals:

  •  Musculoskeletal disorders 

  • Metabolic disorders as in Diabetes 

  • Heart diseases

  • Motor neuron disease 

  • Parkinson’s disease 

How Should I Treat My Leg Cramps?

Drink A Lot Of Fluids 

Fluids help muscles to operate normally. Depending on the weather, your age, your activity level, and any medications you’re taking, you may need to adjust your fluid consumption. 

Sleeping In A Different Position

Sleeping in a position where your feet are pointing downward is not recommended. Sleeping on your back with a pillow behind your legs is a good idea. Use pillows to keep your toes pointed upwards when you sleep on your back. Try hanging your feet off the end of the bed if you sleep on your stomach. Both of these positions can help you sleep in a more relaxed state.

Apply Heat

Heat can help to relax tense muscles. To treat the affected region, use a hot towel, a hot water bottle, or a heating pad. A warm bath or shower might also help.

Walking On Heels

Woman taking off yellow high heels shoes.

This will trigger the muscles on the other side of your calf, which will help it to relax.

Pick Comfortable Footwear

Poor footwear, especially if you have flat feet, can aggravate nerve and muscle problems in your feet and legs. One should pick footwear that helps them to make peace with the pain.

Magnesium In Food

Magnesium plays an important role in muscle contraction. And it is hypothesized that deficiency of magnesium may result in muscle cramps. So, taking magnesium for leg cramps will aid in treating the pain. Some of the foods which are rich in magnesium are pumpkin seeds, cashews, and almonds. 

Home Remedies For Night Leg Cramps

One can make use of the following home remedies for severe leg cramps at night. 

Stretch And Massage Your Muscles

To assist the strained muscle, relax, stretch it and rub it gently. Put your weight on the cramped leg and bend your knee slightly to relieve it. Sit on the floor or on a chair with your affected leg outstretched.

Avoid Dehydration

What should I drink for leg cramps? The answer is simple. Water. Dehydration is a common cause of leg cramps and muscular cramps in general. One should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water each day in general, but it’s best to drink more if they are active, especially outside. Limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine is another strategy to minimize dehydration. Eating fruits like watermelon which has 92% of water will also help. 

Eating Avocados 

avocado on a dark wood background. tinting. selective focus

Avocados are rich in potassium and magnesium. Those two minerals act as electrolytes in the body and play an important role in muscle health. Electrolytes are electrically charged compounds that your body needs to carry out essential processes such as muscular contraction. Symptoms such as muscle cramps can occur when electrolytes become unbalanced. If you get a lot of muscle cramps, eating a lot of electrolyte-rich foods like avocados will help.

Eating Fermented Foods

Pickles and kimchi, for example, are abundant in salt and other minerals that can aid in relieving muscle cramps. Intriguingly, some research suggests that drinking pickle juice can assist athletes to avoid electrically generated muscle cramps. Pickles, like other fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, are high in electrolytes like salt, making them a suitable choice for people who frequently get muscle cramps.

NOTE: Leg cramps are unpredictable. Your sleep, exercise, and overall quality of life can be affected by them.They’re just transitory, but there are steps you can take in order to deal with them if they do occur. Avoid risk factors, avoid medications with leg cramps as a side effect, and take preventative measures as suggested by your doctor.