Who doesn’t need a good night sleep?
But for those of us who suffer from nighttime leg or calf cramps, quality continuous sleep can be fleeting.
I get a similar thing in my forearms actually.
Leg cramps are an idiopathic condition that have no specific and identifiable cause. There’s much conjecture as to what causes leg cramps during sleep, but a few common causes include:
- Mineral deficiencies in calcium, magnesium and potassium
- Deficiencies in vitamins A, B and E
- Medical conditions like liver failure, cirrhosis, kidney disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism
- A fluid/electrolyte imbalance
- Dehydration, especially after exercise
- Prescription medications such as diuretics, statins and bronchodialators for asthma
Dr. Shaun O’Keefe is a clinical lecturer at Galway University and co-author of the definitive Galway study on nocturnal leg cramps in older adults. Dr. O’Keefe says, “Low potassium and magnesium can cause and worsen leg cramps. However, apart from getting these corrected and improving your cramps, you would want to find out why your blood chemistry is abnormal — low potassium and magnesium at a level that would influence cramps is not a normal finding.”
60 Percent Get Cramps
Up to 60 percent of adults report that they have had nocturnal leg cramps. The recurrent, painful tightening usually occurs in the calf muscles and can cause severe insomnia.
As eluded to above, nighttime leg cramps are associated with vascular disease, lumbar canal stenosis, cirrhosis, hemodialysis, pregnancy, and other medical conditions. Medications that are strongly associated with leg cramps include intravenous iron sucrose, conjugated estrogens, raloxifene, naproxen, and teriparatide.
A history and physical examination are usually sufficient to differentiate nocturnal leg cramps from other conditions, such as restless legs syndrome, claudication, myositis, and peripheral neuropathy.
Laboratory evaluation and specialized testing usually are unnecessary to confirm the diagnosis.
Limited evidence supports treating nocturnal leg cramps with exercise and stretching, or with medications such as magnesium, calcium channel blockers, carisoprodol, or vitamin B12. Quinine is no longer recommended to treat leg cramps.
Here’s How to Get Some Sleep
– Eat magnesium. Magnesium-rich foods such as dark greens, veggies, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, dates, dark chocolate, and bananas have all prove effective against cramps.
– Apply magnesium oil to your legs. Make the spray below, apply just before going to bed, and you should see fewer cramps.
– Add vitamin D. The best way to add vitamin D is through sun-exposure, but mushrooms and seafood are also good vitamin D sources.
– Massage calves in circles.
– Get more electrolytes. Try our recipe below!
Electrolyte Replenishment Recipe
- 2 organic carrots
- 1 cup organic spinach
- 1 organic fennel
- 1 organic green apple
- 1 organic lime
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Do Your Stretches
Do stretches after a light warmup on the treadmill or walk around the block. There is better blood flow that brings more oxygen and nutrients to cells. Also, the easiest way to do this is with a ledge and resting a ball of the foot while the heel is on the floor.
Then shift the weight on the ledge like pressing pedal on a car. Keep like that for 2 seconds and rest 10. You feel a good stretch burn. Repeat it 6-8 times per foot. This relaxes the calves and remembers the ledge must not be too high from the ground since it means extra pressure.
Or do a ledge with piled up books.
Spread the cramping leg and stretch ankles. Point up toes and in the knee direction. Tug the feet and stretch.