This Is Why Your Legs Cramp At Night (And How To Stop It From Happening Ever Again)

As the name itself suggests, nocturnal leg cramps, commonly known as leg cramps that happen at night, occur while the person sleeps. Oftentimes, the person wakes up when they strike, and the major reason for their occurrence in the late hours is the prolonged inactivity time.

Typically, leg cramps appear in the calf, but the feet and thighs are oftentimes affected as well.  They usually last for couple of seconds or few minutes. Once the leg cramps pass, the muscle is likely to stay sore during the entire night. Both men and women are affected by this issue, and the most susceptible are adults over the age of 50.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) vs. Leg Cramps at Night

The fact that both of these conditions occur during sleeping hours is the only similarity between them. However, they have more differences. They are as follows:

  • In case of nocturnal leg cramps, moving the leg does not offer relief, while in RLS it does.
  • RLS is a crawling feeling or discomfort in your legs
  • Nocturnal leg cramps usually prevent movement, while RLS causes a leg movement desire
  • Nocturnal leg cramps cause pain or cramping, while RLS doesn’t

Causes and Risk Factors of Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Even though the exact cause of nocturnal leg cramps still remains unknown, potential causes and risk factors can be the following:

  • Improper sitting
  • Working or standing on concrete floors
  • Over-exertion of the leg muscles
  • Prolonged periods of sitting

In some cases, the underlying cause of nocturnal leg cramps can be some medical conditions, such as the ones below:

  • Pregnancy
  • Parkinson`s disease
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes
  • Structural disorders, such as flat feet
  • Dehydration
  • Diuretics, beta agonists, statins,
  • Alcoholism

Preventive Measures and Treatment of Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Needless to say, the treatment of nocturnal leg cramps heavily depends on its cause. For instance, if dehydration is the culprit for this condition, you need to stay well hydrated during the day. Some other preventive measures and treatments of this condition include:

  • Make sure you are not  potassium or magnesium deficient
  • Relaxing, warm bath before going to bed to ease muscle tightness
  • Before going to bed, stretch your legs
  • Horse chestnut, increasing the leg blood flow
  • Acupuncture to loosen tight leg muscles


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