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Leg Cramps at Night: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The different muscles of our body are an essential element for the function of our locomotor system. These work by contracting the thousands of elastic fibers that make them up, regulated by the nervous system through electrical impulses. Under certain circumstances, these impulses can be involuntary and constant, producing a muscular contraction of a specific muscle, which is known as a cramp, and which is usually related to pain and last from a few seconds to several minutes. These muscle contractions are more frequent in the legs, especially in the calf area, and there is the possibility that they appear while you sleep, causing a disturbance in your sleep due to pain. Waking up to this contraction may scare you. Why do you get cramps in your legs while you sleep?

What are muscle cramps?

The muscle cramps appear after contraction or strain of a muscle, without any intention to do so and difficult relaxation. The person with cramps reports having a rigid or bulging power, and this may involve the entire muscle, several muscles, or just part of one.

This type of contraction is involuntary and generates a lot of pain due to tension. They affect all people in general, but it is more frequent in those of advanced ages, pregnant women, or athletes.

The most common areas in which they occur are in the calf and the front or back of the thigh, although they can also appear on the feet, hands, arms, and abdomen.

Its symptoms include pain and spasms, disappearing in a few seconds or lasting for several minutes. Sensitivity may occur up to 24 hours later.

Why do you get leg cramps while you sleep?

The causes that cause a muscle cramp are nonspecific since its origin has been associated with a series of factors that must be considered. Despite being a common condition, if it is commonplace, it is necessary to know what the triggers maybe, since its appearance should not be ignored. The nocturnal leg cramps have been associated with:

  • deficiency of foods rich in calcium, potassium, or magnesium: this deficiency can lead to a lack of electrolytes, which are necessary elements for muscle metabolism and which, if not present in the blood, can trigger leg cramps while you sleep.
  • Circulation disorders: if you adopt postures that prevent adequate blood flow, you can promote the appearance of cramps. Also, cramps can appear in the legs, especially at night in people with vascular diseases, such as those who suffer from varicose veins or thrombosis.
  • Nerve diseases: people who suffer from neurological disorders, such as polyneuropathy, which affects many nerves and triggers leg cramps when sleeping.
  • Overweight: This is because a fat person requires more work and, therefore, there is more significant wear and tear on the muscles. As a result of this wear, cramps appear in the legs.
  • Athletes appear athletes, because they exert excessive muscular effort, being more prone to generating cramps.
  • They were standing or sitting in the same position for an extended period.
  • Administration of some drugs such as contraceptives, diuretics, antipsychotics, or steroids can cause leg cramps as a side effect.
  • Dehydration .

Tips to avoid leg cramps

These spasms are more common than you think, especially while we sleep, and they do not cause any damage; however, it is not a mystery to anyone that these cramps are incredibly annoying and painful, so you should try to avoid them. If you present them with numerous regularity, we will give you a series of tips that you can follow to prevent them:

  • Experts advise sleeping with your toes up since you create more tension in the leg area if they are stretched out.
  • Hydrate yourself properly during the day.
  • Eat foods that contain the necessary nutrients to avoid leg cramps.
  • Stretch before sleeping because it decreases the frequency of these spasms.
  • If you have already gotten up and have the cramp, you will have to reverse it. To do this, stretch the affected muscle or walk a little. You can also put hot or cold compresses on the affected leg because the change in temperature reverses the cramp.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do leg cramps while you sleep, we recommend that you enter our Bones, Joints and Muscles category .

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