Leg cramps during night time are also known as nocturnal leg cramps. When this occurs, it causes pain causing the person to wake up. One of the known causes of leg cramps is long hours of inactivity.
Mostly, the center of pain during a nocturnal leg cramp is in the calf. However, it can also cause pains in both thighs and feet.
The pain, although it’s intense, it only lasts from few seconds to several minutes.
When the pain subsides and leg cramp passes, soreness in the muscles may linger throughout the night and can last the following day.
Most commonly, leg cramps at night happen in adults over the age of 50 affecting both men and women. One study says night leg cramps affect over 30% of adults.
It also becomes more common in older adults.
Leg Cramps vs Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome or RLS is another condition that affects the legs, and also happens during sleep time.
Although, the first impression these two conditions have similarities, they’re different.
Here are the differences between leg cramps and restless leg syndrome;
- RLS is not painful while leg cramps inflict pain
- While RLS is not painful, it’s uncomfortable with a crawling sensation in the legs
- With RLS, legs can be moved while leg cramps do not due to pain
- Moving the legs in RLS gives relief while leg cramps don’t and stretching the legs is needed
What Causes Leg Cramps At Night?
The primary cause of night leg cramps is unknown. This is called idiopathic leg cramps where the majority of cases have no underlying cause. At this point, experts have no idea why it happens.
Theoretically, this means muscles becomes tight for a period of time, which make the muscles shorten. Then, it is in a volition to contract and cause cramps if it contracts further.
Among the common risk factors of nocturnal leg cramps include;
- Sitting for long hours without even moving the legs
- Over training the leg muscles or under stress due to exercise
- Working while standing on concrete flooring
- Improper sitting posture
Moreover, leg cramps also happen to athletes who lose water due to sweating resulting in losing sodium or salt in the body. Also, it can also happen to anyone walking or running due to dehydration.
This is why athletes and people running or walking at long distance bring water with sea salt in it. Bringing along and drinking coconut water is also a good idea as it contains a lot of minerals including potassium and sodium.
There are also various secondary causes of leg cramps at night. This may be caused by a certain health condition. Even drinking alcohol heavily can cause cramps in the legs while sleeping.
Tips For Stopping And Preventing Leg Cramps At Night
There are several ways you can try in order to stop or even prevent muscle cramps at night. Find something natural that works for you. If you think about taking medications, consult your doctor prior to doing so.
There are over the counter pain relievers but be careful and be aware they can be addictive.
Here are tips on stopping and preventing leg cramps:
- Give your legs a massage and stretch.
- Do yoga
- Take a warm bath or shower for muscle relaxation.
- Placing a heating pad over the muscles may help.
- Placing an ice-cold pack can also help.
- Make sure you drink enough fluids like water but avoid sugary liquids.
- Stay physically active with exercise but don’t overdo it.
- Take a walk, which stimulates the muscles in the legs.
One Simple Trick or Remedy For Leg Cramps and RLS
Here’s one woman’s trick or remedy to preventing night cramps and RLS. She uses a bar of soap. Although there is no scientific proof whether it works or not but a lot of people are talking about it.
After all, it only costs very little. Then, why not give it a try?
Here’s another guy talking about a bar of soap as a home remedy for night leg cramps. And, he talks more home remedies, which is pretty interesting.
Massage For Leg Cramps
Here are some massaging techniques for preventing night cramps. Check this massage demonstration to helps someone with cramps on their legs. Or, perhaps you can a self-massage using this technique.
Additionally, check this self-massage technique for the lower leg. This helps release the tensions in the muscles allowing it to relax.
Even though muscle cramps at night particularly on the legs are very common and affect 1-in-3 adults, there are many options to relieve it. But what’s important is knowing what causes it. When you know something that causes cramps, you can easily avoid it.
As you can see, most of the remedies are natural. So, take your time learning which method works for you, or help someone with cramps. Additionally, lacking in minerals like potassium, sodium, magnesium and among others can also trigger cramps.
Lastly, stay physically active but don’t overtrain yourself. Overtraining can put the muscles on your legs under stress. Start with walking exercise. The benefits of walking are tremendous. Plus, you’ll be able to have sun exposure, which is a vital source of Vitamin D.
When it comes to diet, prioritize eating pain-relieving foods.