Nighttime leg cramps are an unpleasant health problem that can easily cause problems with your much needed sleep. These cramps are involuntary leg muscle contractions that can be a result of numerous factors, from dehydration to nutritional deficiencies.
These cramps can occur to anyone, regardless of their gender or age, and the ache is characterized as mild to severe and it usually lasts from several seconds to several minutes. There are cases when the pain is overly intense and it leads to soreness in the muscles in the morning.
The Contributing Factors
Though the main reason for this medical issue is not yet known, these are some of the major reasons why it may happen:
Water is necessary for our health and well-being and so that the muscles can perform optimally. When we do not drink enough water, our risk of nighttime cramps in the legs is higher and the muscles become deprived of nutrients that could further cause nutritional imbalance.
Lack of nutrients
When there is a lack of specific nutrients in the body, the chance of leg cramps elevates. Namely, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are crucial for healthy muscles due to the fact that they aid in the balance of the fluids in the body and contribute to the muscles’ contraction.
Standing for a longer period of time
Being on your feet for a lot of hours, as well as wearing uncomfortable shoes and high heels can contribute to leg cramps at nighttime. This is why you need to take breaks from standing in order for the muscles to have time to relax and wear comfy shoes.
In pregnant women, the chance of leg cramps is higher, particularly in the second trimester, and they can be a result of tiredness, low blood flow in the legs, or increased pressure on the nerves.
When you suffer from an underactive thyroid gland, there is a lack of thyroid hormones in the body and this can trigger leg cramps and cramps in the calves because these hormones impact the use and absorption of calcium in the body. Some studies point out that lack of calcium can trigger numbness or weakness of the muscles.
Leg cramps at nighttime in diabetics can be a sign of diabetic neuropathy which happens when the illness harms specific nerves. Moreover, when the levels of sugar are high, the risk of excessive urination and dehydration, as well as leg cramps, elevates.
Drinking too much
When a person consumes too much alcoholic drinks, the body will easily become dehydrated and the peripheral nerves can be damaged and this will manifest through leg cramps.
Diuretics, antipsychotics, birth control pills, as well as statins, are known to reduce the electrolytes and water in the body and lead to cramps.
How to Avert Leg Cramps
- Increase the intake of water
- Opt for sports drinks rich in electrolytes
- Do not consume too much caffeine and alcohol
- Stretch the legs before bed
- Wear loose pajamas and sleep on loose sheets and cover yourself with light blankets
- In order to warm up the muscles, ride a stationary bike 10 minutes before bed
- While you experience the cramp, try to shake and move the leg
- Opt for more leafy green veggies, nuts, and seeds, as well as magnesium supplements
- You need to have enough potassium in the body so you should eat more fish, pork, lamb, citrus fruits, bananas, grapes, dates, and apricots
- To relax the cramping area, apply a warm compress onto it