Why resting leg cramps?

Sometimes at night, after I’m in bed, I get bad cramps in the calf of one leg or the other. Last night I had cramps in both legs, at the same time, and they really, really hurt.

I can find no pattern with regards to diet, exercise, weight, or relative fitness, other than they always occur at night, after I’m in bed. When they happen I usually get up and try to walk them out, except last night, when I had cramps in both legs at once.

So does anyone have any idea, or experience, with leg muscle cramps like these?

I have never had chronic ones but I get hamstring cramps from time to time, nearly always at night. I never identified a trigger, but in general dehydration and low potassium (IIRC) can cause muscle cramps.

I get occasional leg cramps in bed.

For a while, they were really bad and almost every night. I asked the doctor about it because I’d heard about connections with potassium levels, etc.

He recommended that I stretch my legs out before I go to sleep. It’s worked wonders for me.

Apparently, a lot of time they’re nothing more than your legs staying tense all day (mine’s from general stress levels), and they cramp as they relax when you’re going to sleep.

My doctor prescribed Canada Dry Tonic Water for my cramps. It works because it contains a small amount of quinine.:slight_smile:

I have them sometimes, but they’re fairly closely related to either hard cycling, extreme tiredness, cold, or some combination of them.

I started getting them when I took a particular medicine. I stopped taking it because I figured my heart was a muscle that would be vulnerable to cramping Turns out they pulled the drug a month later because it was killing people. DUH.

Thanks for the replies.

I’d been to karate class that afternoon, but I go two or three times a week and only get the leg cramps once a month or so. My job as a baker has me on my feet all shift, and that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Or perhaps because it contains a large amount of water? I seem to get cramps if I’m dehydrated.

The bed cramps are totally unfair. The worst part is you can feel them coming on, so you try in vain to relax your leg or massage it, but it cramps up anyway, and you’re left in bed tired, confused, and trying not to cry.

That is so true. Once when I was feeling a crampin my leg and foot, I could see my toes start to wiggle involuntarily. It was hard to put my foot down, and when the cramp stopped I was sweaty and crying.

I get night leg cramps caused by partial vascular occlusion in my femoral artery caused, in turn, by build-up of plaque in my arteries. If you get leg cramps frequently, it’s worth getting checked out.

So called charley horses can be triggered by low potassium. People who diurese themselves regularly with a lot of coffee or alcohol will sometimes experience this, depending on personal threshold, though it usually takes a more dedicated stab at metabolic alkalosis to produce the kind of distress that interferes with rest. Eat a banana or a tomato with a glass of OJ and cut down on diuretic beverages or practices.

Lack of magnesium can also cause cramps.

I used to get these all the time; there have been a bunch of changes in my lifestyle since, and one of them must have eliminated most of the occurrences, it only happens to me 3-4 times a year any more.


I’ve found that if you immediately lie on your back, bend your knees just enough to get the soles of your feet flat with your toes stretched, and press down hard into the bed with the bottom of your feet when you feel these coming on, it will prevent the cramp from progressing. You only get a second or two to respond. Act like you’re trying to arch your back off the bed (although it doesn’t usually take that much effort.)

If you miss your window, the same motion will often relieve some or most of the discomfort.

According to my doctor I get them due to a blood pressure med he prescribed.

When I feel one coming on I exceed light speed jumping out of bed and hopping around. All it takes is a couple of steps and it goes away every time.

It’s incredible how fast one of those things brings you wide awake.

I was getting them for a while. When I saw my doctor for something else, I brought this up, too. He said to take magnesium supplements.

Only speaking from personal experience, but I think it is some sort of electrolyte imbalance. I used to get it quite bad and then it more or less went away without my conscious effort; a few months ago it started coming back, and I was even getting it in my hands. I recently upped my salt intake after one day eating something salty and noticing a distinct lack of the jerky itch that night. My diet lately has been rather low in salt and it seems adding 1-2g a day sorts me out.

So my best advice would be to check your electrolyte consumption and see if something could be amiss in your diet (also considering your daily level of physical activity).

I drink tonic water every night to keep the cramps at bay. Some calcium/magnesium with D can also help. There are also some OTC products like Crampamine that may be tried, since it’s hard to get quinine sulfate via prescription anymore.