Experiencing physical discomfort while in bed can impede your ability to get a good night of sleep. Many people experience night leg cramps, also known as nocturnal cramps. These are best described as muscle spasms. Night cramps most often occur in the calf muscle but can also extend to the thigh or feet muscles. If you experience a night cramp, it will most likely happen right before falling asleep or as you are awakening.
Night Leg Cramps Causes
Why do night cramps happen? When a muscle shortens and tightens suddenly, a violent spasm often results. As a result, you may feel pain because of restricted blood flow to the contracted muscle. Most times, night cramps occur for no apparent reason and cause no real physical harm.
Night Leg Cramps Risk Factors
Who gets night cramps? Night cramps can happen to anyone. As you age, your risk for having a night cramp increases, as blood flow patterns undergo changes. Pregnant women are also more likely to experience night cramps.
Other risk factors include:
- Overstrained muscles
- Peripheral artery disease
- Extended periods of standing
- Medications taken to lower cholesterol and blood pressure
Night Leg Cramps Treatments
To properly treat or limit the occurrence of night leg cramps, it is best to talk to your doctor to discuss any individual risk factors.
Here are some easy things you can do at home to relieve night cramps:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Flex the foot up toward the head
- Shake the cramping leg
- Take a hot shower or bath
- Massage or ice the cramped leg muscle
- Stand or walk on the cramping leg
To lower your chances of experiencing night cramps, try stretching before bed, getting plenty of exercise throughout the week, and eating foods like bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes that are rich in potassium.
Try visiting a specialist if you frequently experience night cramps.