It’s two o’clock in the morning and suddenly, you are jerked awake by intense leg cramps, likely in your calves or feet. The pain is intense and doesn’t seem to let up for several seconds.
By the time it’s over, your eyes are completely open, and you are desperately stretching in an attempt to get it to stop. All you want to do is get some rest, however, your overactive muscles simply won’t let you.
It’s one the most frustrating feelings, yet, it’s no reason to give up hope.
Because muscle spasms are involuntary, most people think that there is nothing to be done about them. However, we’ve gathered some ideas that will help you to not only reduce the frequency of your night leg cramps but potentially, completely eliminate them.
Try some of them out for yourself today and see what happens. You might be surprised by just how much of a difference these strategies make.
If there is no immediately apparent medical cause of your leg cramps such as pregnancy or diabetes, one of the first things you should try is drinking more water. Dehydration is one of the main reasons that people experience cramping in the night.
Make sure to keep a bottle of water with you at all times and sip on it throughout the day. The Mayo Clinic recommends that men drink about 3.7 liters of water per day and that women drink 2.7 liters. If that seems like a lot, you can also try mixing some fruits or lemon juice in with the water to add some flavor to it.
Apply heat to the area to reduce some of the pain. It will improve blood circulation and help your muscles to relax. The best way to do it is by using an electric heating pad and placing it on the area for fifteen to twenty minutes. That will be plenty of time to get the job done.
However, if that doesn’t work, another effective technique for reducing pain is to take a hot bath with Epsom salts. It will accomplish many of the same things as the heating pad.
3. Wintergreen Oil
The oil contains methyl salicylate, a well-known pain killer that is also good for stimulating blood flow in the body. Mix the wintergreen oil with a carrier such as almond oil, olive oil, or an unscented lotion. Then rub it into your legs near the spots that you normally get night cramps.
The human body requires electrolytes to function. If you are low in potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, or any other important minerals, there is a good chance that it could be contributing to your cramps. It’s possible to fill the deficiencies with supplements.
However, you should first look to your diet to see if there is anything you can change. Potassium is found in fruits like bananas and oranges as well as in various vegetables. Calcium can be acquired through dairy. Whole grains like wheat are high in magnesium.
5. Vitamin E
It’s possible that blocked arteries are contributing to your night leg cramps. Luckily, vitamin E can assist with that. It can be found in high amounts in foods like spinach, avocados, and almonds. Getting sufficient vitamin E in your diet will help to restore normal blood flow to your arteries.
If none of these other strategies work to prevent your nocturnal leg cramps from happening, you might have to just treat yourself in the moment. When you wake up with a cramp, stretching should be your go-to solution to get your muscles to release.
Flexing your foot up and down is one stretching method. As you do it, you will notice that your calf muscle will contract and tighten with the movement. The intensity of the pain should slowly subside as the cramp works itself out. Then you can go back to sleep.
It’s also a good idea to add a regular stretching routine into your daily life as a preventative measure. It’s especially important if you are an active person who participates in a lot of sports or physical challenges. Exhausted muscles and overuse can easily lead to cramping later on.
Nighttime leg cramps can totally destroy your sleep and have a big effect on your health over time. However, you can rest assured knowing that you now have several more tools in your arsenal to deal with them. From monitoring your hydration levels to keeping up with regular stretching routines, there are plenty of different potential solutions.
Check out an additional bonus tip for treating night leg cramps below.
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Bonus Tip: Get a Massage.
Not only do they feel great, but they can also keep your muscles in a relaxed state for several hours afterward. As always, make sure that the masseuse pays special attention to your legs.