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Reasons Why Your Legs Cramp Up at Night and How to Fix It

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Leg cramping is extremely painful and can be a real nightmare, especially when it wakes you at night.

Nocturnal leg cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions of the calf muscles during the night or periods of rest.

Apart from the calves, contractions can also occur in the soles of the feet or other muscles in the body. At the location of the cramp, you may feel a hard lump of muscle tissue.

The duration of these cramps can be anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Although the intense pain may go away, muscle soreness may remain for some time.

Anyone can get these types of cramps, but they are more common in people who are middle-aged or older. They may also occur quite frequently in teenagers and in people who exercise at night.

The precise cause of leg cramps at night is unclear. However, there are many contributing factors that can cause this painful problem.

reasons why your legs cramp up at night

Here are some of the reasons why you have leg cramping at night.

1. Dehydration

Proper hydration contributes to a healthier body and mind. It also impacts the performance of your muscles.

Water comprises 75 percent of muscle tissue and helps them contract and relax easily. So, not maintaining proper levels of hydration during the day may be one of the big causes of leg cramps at night.

Water is also important for proper circulation of nutrients in the body. Without water, muscles will be deprived of important nutrients, which can lead to imbalances of electrolytes (mainly sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium).

In fact, even small amounts of dehydration may hinder athletic performance and increase the chance of cramps at night.

2. Nutritional Deficiency

Any kind of imbalance of mineral electrolytes—sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium—in the body can contribute to nocturnal and exercise-associated cramps.

These minerals are responsible for both nerve impulses and muscle contractions, and keep your muscles working smoothly.

Sodium, one of the main positively charged mineral ions or electrolytes in body fluid, helps maintain a normal body-fluid balance and is critical for nerve impulse generation and muscle contraction.

Potassium is an important electrolyte found in all body cells, including muscle and nerve cells. It works along with sodium and chloride to generate electrical impulses in the nerves and the muscles.

Calcium is involved in muscle contractions as well as the generation of nerve impulses.

Magnesium aids in stabilizing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy source for muscle contractions, and also serves as an electrolyte in body fluids.

Deficiency of any of these minerals can lead to cramps and other muscle-related problems.

Additionally, certain B vitamins impact muscle function, particularly vitamin B12.

3. Overexertion or Prolonged Standing

Standing on a hard surface for a long time as well as standing while wearing high heels or poorly fitting shoes can contribute to muscle fatigue or overexertion. This in turn can cause leg cramps at night.

A 2012 study published in Ergonomics showed that prolonged standing at work may be an important risk factor for varicose veins and nocturnal leg cramps among both men and women.

The study even suggests that interventions to interrupt or reduce prolonged standing at work should be implemented to prevent these problems.

Also, sitting improperly or putting your legs in awkward and uncomfortable positions when sleeping can contribute to nocturnal leg cramps.

4. Pregnancy

Pregnant women often experience leg cramps at night, usually starting in the second trimester and lasting through the third trimester. These cramps may vary in intensity, from mild to extremely painful.

Leg cramps during pregnancy may be due to the increasing pressure of the uterus on certain nerves, fatigue, or reduced circulation in the legs from the pressure of the baby on blood vessels.

During pregnancy, if you frequently suffer from leg cramps either during the day or at night, it is important to discuss this problem with your doctor.

5. Hypothyroidism

A low level of thyroid hormones can indirectly contribute to muscle weakness as well as calf cramps at night.

The thyroid hormones can affect calcium absorption and utilization. Calcium deficiency is associated with muscle weakness, numbness, pain and cramps.

Also, low thyroid hormones lead to low metabolism. High metabolism is important for energy as well as how your muscles feel after doing your regular exercises.

A low level of thyroid hormones also often increases inflammation that may be contributing to your muscle cramping and pain.

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34 thoughts on “Reasons Why Your Legs Cramp Up at Night and How to Fix It”

  1. I have personally overcome the excruciating pain and given out this information to my
    friends. As soon as you feel the first signs of the cramp setting in, press your thumb of
    the foot/leg involved on a hard surface (floor or bed post) for a few seconds and you will be surprised of the relief in a jiffy! Try it and share it.

  2. I would just like to thank you for the piece on leg cramps it was very helpful to me as I suffer with it all the time.

    I enjoy reading the different remedies you write about.

    Thank you,


    Patricia Martin

    1. Dear Patricia

      I suggest a homoeopathic medicine Ferrom Phos 200 liquid 5 drops in two tablespoon water 3 times for one week. I am sure this problem will not repeat again.


      SS DE

  3. The moment you feel like getting leg cramps, you should pull your feet towards yourself. You will get immediate relief. I have been practising this for the last 10 yrs successfully.

  4. My elderly aunt suffered quite a lot with cramps until someone told her to place a little salt under her tongue. She said it works.

  5. Put a bar of soap at the foot of the bed, or slip a small bar in your socks at night. You will NOT have anymore cramps. Old firefighters tip. •_•

  6. The soap really does work ..Don’t know why… My husband had cramps in legs for years and very often. Someone told me to try that… We use Irish Spring ..I don’t know if it makes a difference in the brand or not. He rarely ever gets a cramp now.

  7. The soap really does work . I put a bar near bottom of bed between fitted sheet and mattress cover. We use Irish spring . I don’t know if it makes a difference in the brand. My husband had cramps in legs at night for years (very often) Rarely gets any now.

  8. I want to thank you for helping all of us use only natural home remedies I well try some of them , and I hope they work for me. I hate taking drugs all they do is make the matter worst I well continue to read your home page it is a good home page.
    Thank you again.

  9. Believe it or not , I used the salt remedy and that works pretty quick , then a friend came over when I was beginning to have a cramp and told me to put mustard in my moouth…. I just squirted some mustard from a bottle , just plain old yellow mustard , kindof gross but the pain is awful and so almost immediately it was gone!!

  10. This is a painful feeling in the Night
    I eat one banana everyday for the remedy ,it is working well for me.

  11. I get spasms so bad I have to be given morphine. I will try any or all of the above. I have uncontrolled diabetes which may account for it.

  12. When you feel that your leg will get cramped, immediately stand up on the bed or get down the bed and stand straight. It is a proven idea & I apply this whenever I feel that my leg is being cramped.

  13. Pickle juice works for me but sometimes not as fast as I would like. . . . .will try the soap to prevent it BEFORE IT HAPPENS!

  14. Hello to all that get a cramp u can get instant relief by being barefoot and putting the effected leg ,foot on a cold floor. A tile floor is the best and it will be gone in seconds.

  15. Salt under the tounge , been suffering for over 20 years. Recently bought Himalayian sea salt, brilliant. But try just table salt at first.

  16. Hello
    I have suffered from cramp for over a year now and an orthopedic surgeon suggest this after which I have never had cramps now over 3 months.

    1 drink a lot of water in sips slowly
    2 drink at least 2 glasses of Tonic water Schweppes Indian tonic remmeber it should be the Indian tonic water now i have just one glass a week and no cramps

  17. Good morning I am suffering from leg cramp so sever I afraid to go an sleep it do painful right now I will try any go stop it so thank for ripe I will try it right now

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