This Is Why Your Legs Cramp At Night (And How To Stop It From Happening Ever Again)

Nocturnal leg cramps -leg cramps at night –happen during the sleeping hours. A person can even wake up when they happen, and the reason for their occurrence during these late hours is because they appear after prolonged inactivity time.


Normally, leg cramps appear in the calf but sometimes they cause pain in the feet and thighs. The leg cramps pain can lasts several seconds or minutes. Once it passes, the muscle can stay sore throughout the night. Leg cramps occur in both men and women, usually in adults over the age of 50.

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) vs. leg cramps at night

The only similarity between these two conditions is that they both happen during the sleeping hours. Some of their differences include:

  • Nocturnal leg cramps cause pain or cramping, while RLS doesn’t
  • RLS is a crawling feeling or discomfort in your legs
  • Nocturnal leg cramps usually prevent movement, while RLS causes a leg movement desire
  • In case of nocturnal leg cramps, moving the leg does not offer relief, while in RLS it does.

Nocturnal leg cramps’ causes and risk factors

Although the precise cause of leg cramps at night is usually unknown, potential causes and risk factors can be:

  • Over-exertion of the leg muscles
  • Prolonged periods of sitting
  • Working or standing on concrete floors
  • Improper sitting

Sometimes, the reason for nocturnal leg cramps can be some medical conditions, such as:

  • Alcoholism
  • Pregnancy
  • Dehydration
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Diuretics, statins, beta agonists
  • Structural disorders like flat feet
  • Endocrine disorders like diabetes

Nocturnal leg cramps treatment and prevention

Nocturnal leg cramps treatment depends on its cause. In case the cause is dehydration, make sure you are good hydrated throughout the day. Some other nocturnal leg cramps preventative methods and treatments include:

  • Horse chestnut, increasing the leg blood flow
  • Relaxing, warm bath before going to bed to ease muscle tightness
  • Acupuncture to loosen tight leg muscles
  • Make sure you are not deficient in potassium or magnesium
  • Before going to bed, stretch your legs


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