Having muscle cramps at night – or nocturnal leg cramps – can be incredibly annoying. You were sleeping peacefully and suddenly find yourself wide awake, withering in pain. There are various symptoms that come with muscle cramps at night, although they are most often muscle cramps in calf. Generally, people will feel terrible pain in the muscles of their calf, although it can radiate right the way down to their feet too.
Muscle cramps at night are real cramps, and not a spasm as some people believe. Because of the fact that the muscle stay in a contracted and cramped position, the pain is truly intense. Touching the area where the cramp occurred, you will notice that your muscles are hard as a rock, which shows just how bad the cramp was.
What Causes Muscle Cramps?
It is believed that cramps are caused by a higher electrical activity in the muscle that is affected. However, the cause of night muscle cramps, or the fact that they are almost always in the calf and foot (muscle cramps in thighs are very rare at night, for instance), isn’t known and actually baffles the medical community. If the cramps are recurrent, however, they are generally caused by a vitamin deficiency or a fluid imbalance.
Muscle Cramp Relief
It is very easy to relieve muscle cramps at night, although you would probably want to avoid muscle cramps altogether. This is why it is more important to find ways on how to prevent muscle cramps, which is easily done through a few simple adjustments. Firstly, make sure that your bed covers aren’t too tight. If they are, you could involuntarily point your toes, which will lead to a cramp if sustained. Also, before you go into bed, do some stretching exercises with your calves for about five minutes. If the cramp happens, pull your toes backwards. Don’t, whatever you do, point your toes, because that will make matters worse. If you can’t shake the cramp, put your foot down on the floor and make your entire body lean forward.
There is a belief that potassium deficiency is often the cause of cramps. It is certainly true that those who suffer from recurrent nocturnal cramps have found that the number of incidents have reduced dramatically as soon as they change their diet. Hence, you may want to try eating some foods high in potassium, such as:
• Apricots, bananas, dates, nectarines, raisins and grapes
• Cabbage and broccoli
• Grapefruit and orange, or their juice
• Lamb and pork
• Corn and potatoes
• Saltwater fish
• Tomato juice or tomatoes
If you wake up in the middle of the night with a nocturnal cramp, it is too late to run down for that banana. What you want is for the cramp to be gone and not come back. Try doing the following:
• Place a hot compress on the cramping muscle
• Massage your muscles
• Flex and stretch the affected muscle
There is also believed to be a link between nocturnal cramps and dehydration. This is why it is so important to make sure you go to bed well-hydrated and have some water next to your bed as well.
Last but not least, there are a number of people who are more likely to experience leg cramps at night. These include dieters, pregnant women, people who have had sickness and diarrhea and pregnant women. This is because their phosphorus and calcium levels are changed. If this sounds like you, feel free to speak to a medical adviser about how best to treat the problem, particularly if it is recurring. You can also check our home remedy for muscle cramps.