Have you ever gone to bed and awoke with a nasty leg cramp? Night leg cramps, often known as nocturnal leg cramps, may be a nightmare. And, if they are accompanied by other symptoms, they can be a sign of an underlying medical issue.
Although nocturnal leg cramps are commonly referred to as “Charley horses,” there is no Charley and no horse to blame. These charley horses, which are characterized by a sudden muscular spasm that can last from seconds to minutes, mainly affect the calf and foot, but they can also hit your hamstring. While we’ve all had leg cramps at some time in our lives, they tend to be more frequent around the age of 50.
What causes Night Leg Cramps?
Nobody knows for certain what causes nighttime leg cramps, but there are certain established risk factors.
Dehydration can be a major cause behind these cramps. Heat and maybe fluid balance also play a role in cramp development. Dehydration may cause electrolyte abnormalities in the blood, triggering cramps.
Pregnancy is linked to more frequent leg cramps, probably as a result of weight increase and interrupted circulation. It’s also likely that cramping is caused by the pressure a growing fetus puts on the mother’s blood vessels and nerves.
3. Old Age
With aging you lose more of your motor neurons. It generally starts around early 50s when the cramps become common.
4. Changing Seasons
Leg cramps at night are more prevalent in the summer than in the winter. Because of the increased vitamin D levels, nerve development and repair may be more active in the summer. Sunlight causes your body to generate vitamin D. As a result, during the summer, when your D levels are at their highest, your body may engage in “accelerated” neural regeneration, which may cause severe cramps.
Muscle cramps can occur while working out at the gym or participating in team sports. Skeletal muscular stress and exhaustion can cause cramping in overused muscle fibers.
6. Standing For Longer Hours
There is also evidence that persons who spend a lot of time standing are more prone to have leg cramps than sitters. Blood and fluids tend to collect in your lower body while you’re on your feet but not moving. This can cause fluid imbalances, as well as muscle and tendon shortening, which can result in cramping.
7. Nutrients Deficiency
There is proof, though it is mixed, that calcium, magnesium, and potassium deficiencies contribute to cramping. Because each of these electrolytes helps maintain fluid equilibrium in the blood and muscles, it stands to reason that if they are out of balance, cramping can occur.
How to Avoid Night Leg Cramps?
The good news is that, while painful, nocturnal leg cramps are rarely dangerous. But again there is no guaranteed remedy for nocturnal leg cramps since there is no clear cause behind it. You may be able to lower your chances of getting leg cramps by:
Massage: Massaging your calves or feet before bed might help you sleep better by relaxing the muscles in your legs. If you have restricted mobility, try enlisting the assistance of a companion.
Stretching: Stretching or yoga before bedtime may help you lessen the frequency and severity of nocturnal leg cramps. According to research, stretching before bedtime helps minimize cramps and leg pain after around six weeks.
Stay Hydrated: You might also try drinking extra water during the day, particularly if you’re sweating or exercising. Dry mouth, headaches, weariness, and dry skin are all symptoms of a lack of water. The color of your urine is usually the greatest indicator. You’re getting enough water if your pee is pale yellow or clear. You should drink more if your pee is dark yellow (or closer to amber).
Baths: Some people believe that taking a bath helps them sleep better at night. An Epsom salt bath, in particular, may assist alleviate muscular discomfort. Magnesium sulfate is found in Epsom salt, which may help in the relief of leg cramps.
Wear Comfortable Footwear: Poor footwear can worsen nerve and muscle problems in your feet and legs, especially if you have flat feet. So wear comfortable footwear especially if your daytime job consists of being on your feet for long hours.
Eat a Balanced Diet: Making sure you have enough magnesium in your diet may be advantageous. Sources include beans, nuts, whole grains, and leafy greens. Research revealed that taking B vitamin supplements might also help. There isn’t enough proof to justify taking a new medicine, but eating more fish, healthy grains, and veggies can’t harm.
How to Relieve Leg Cramps Immediately?
Some faster tried remedies to relieve leg cramps are:
1. Massage the leg. Rubbing the concerned muscle may aid in its relaxation. Gently knead and relax the muscle with one or both hands.
2. Straighten your leg if the cramp is in your calf. Flex your foot such that it is elevated to face you and your toes point in your direction.
3. Walk on your heels. This will relax your calf by activating the muscles opposing it.
4. Apply heat press. Heat can help to relax tense muscles. To the afflicted area, use a heated cloth, hot water bottle, or heating pad. A warm bath or shower may also be beneficial.
If none of these methods work and you continue to suffer severe continuous cramping that interferes with your sleep and everyday function, consult your doctor.