Are leg cramps keeping you up at night? Leg cramps are not only painful, but they are also a leading cause of fitful sleeping, insomnia and daytime fatigue. They speak to bigger problems too, such as dehydration, nutritional deficiencies and sometimes depression. Researchers believe that leg cramps are caused by an imbalance in one of several key minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc or sodium. Try these tips for battling nighttime pain in your legs.
- Replenish Electrolytes – If you’re dehydrated, chances are you are low in electrolytes. Electrolytes are charged particles found in body fluids that form when salts dissolve in water or fluids. Electrolytes transmit electrical impulses necessary for proper nerve, muscle and heart function. Any imbalance in one or more of the major electrolytes could contribute to leg cramps and other complications.
- Cut Back on Caffeine – Caffeine is a diuretic, so it causes mild dehydration, which can lead to leg cramps.Pay attention to your caffeine intake and how it impacts your nighttime leg pain. The chlorogenic acid in coffee also depletes your supply of magnesium, iron and zinc.
- Reduce Aspirin and Ibuprofen – Many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are known to reduce folate levels in the body. A deficiency of this B vitamin can lead to chronic leg cramps.
- Take CoQ10 – If you’re on a cholesterol-lowering statin medication, you should be taking Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance made naturally by the body that is involved in energy production in all your cells. Statin medications lower CoQ10 levels.
- Drink Pickle Juice – A 2010 study found that drinking pickle juice within 35 seconds of leg cramps starting reduced them 40 faster than drinking water did. This might be because pickle juice triggers a reflex in the region in your throat, reducing the neurons involved in cramping muscles, according to researchers.
- Restore Calcium and Magnesium – Calcium and magnesium are both stored in the bones. Calcium also affects the excitability of nerve and muscle cells. Low levels of calcium can cause increased muscle irritability. This can result in muscle cramping and the feeling of pins and needles in the extremities. Magnesium’s functions overlap with those of potassium and calcium. Low magnesium again results in muscle irritability, causing muscle spasms and hyperactive reflexes.