Prevent and treat night leg cramps. Here’s what you need to know

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with intense leg cramps? There are many reasons why you might be experiencing muscle cramps. Overuse of muscles, diabetes, pregnancy, and even dehydration are some of the things that may cause night leg cramps. So what are some ways to stop them from ruining a good night’s rest?

Wintergreen Oil

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Flickr/wplynn
Source: Flickr/wplynn

Wintergreen oil which contains methyl salicylate can help to reduce pain. Methyl salicylate is known to help stimulate blood flow. Mix the oil with a carrier oil such as olive oil or almond oil and massage into your legs. You can also mix the oil in with a non-scented lotion

Vitamin E

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Flickr/John Liu
Source: Flickr/John Liu

Vitamin E can help improve blood flow in blocked arteries which can also cause night leg cramps. Eat foods rich in Vitamin E such as almonds, spinach, and avocados. You can also purchase a Vitamin E supplement from a drug store or health food store.

Water

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Michael Hamann
Source: Michael Hamann

Throughout the day, be sure to get in eight 8-oz glasses of water. Try adding fruit such as lemon, lime, or even strawberries to add flavor. Keep a cup with you throughout the day so you can sip on the water while you are at work. Pick out a cup that you really like and one that will keep your water cold throughout the day. Having your own special water cup may motivate you to keep drinking.

Heat

Use an electric heating pad to help ease the pain. Heat can help with pain by improving circulation to the affected area. You can use the heating pad for 15-20 minutes. An alternative is to take a hot bath and soak. Add some Epsom salts, which can help reduce the pain as well.

Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals your body needs. They include potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Having low levels of these electrolytes can be a factor that contributes to night leg cramps. Make an effort to include potassium (from fruits and vegetables), calcium (dairy), and magnesium (found in whole grains) rich foods in your diet.

Stretching

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Flickr/Adam McGuffie
Source: Flickr/Adam McGuffie

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with a leg cramp, the best thing you can do in the moment is stretch. Though it may be painful, flex your foot in and out. You should feel your calf muscle tighten and contract. This will help the night leg cramp become much less intense and eventually end. Stretching every day before you get cramps can also be beneficial for your muscles, particularly if you have an active job, workout often, or are involved in any sports.

Leg cramps can really ruin a good night’s sleep, especially if you don’t know how to get rid of them. Staying hydrated, changing your diet, adding some supplements, and simply stretching and massaging the tightened muscles will help you eliminate leg cramps so you can rest easy.

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Sources: [Best Health Mag, Cleveland Clinic, Good Housekeeping, Health Guidance, Healthline, Mayo Clinic, Organic Health House, WebMD]

Erin Russell
Erin Marissa Russell is a contributing writer at Shareably. She is based in Denton, TX, and can be reached at erin.russellgibsoncontent@gmail.com.

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