Argh! Why am I getting night cramps?
After a long day of work, you get home with the intention to rest and recuperate for a new day. You go to sleep and a sudden pain in the leg wakes you in the middle of the night, so that you lose the next 10 minutes of sleep waiting for it to disappear. And, if you are like me, if something wakes you up in the middle of the night, you will have a hard time going back to sleep. What happened? The nighttime leg cramps can be very common in our daily living, in some cases more than others. However, there are ways to reduce these painful and annoying interruptions.
In a simple way, cramping can be described as a sudden contraction, as if you were pulling a muscle. This phenomenon usually occurs in the large muscles of the leg, such as the calves, is natural and normal reaction to what the body receives from through out our daily activities.
The causes are varied: excessive effort by the muscles, people who are constantly standing up for prolonged periods of time on hard surfaces, sedentary people, or people who do not drink enough water. Similarly, diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, hypoglycemia, hormonal disorders, and chemical imbalances can lead to muscle contractions, both during daytime and nighttime. Furthermore, some medications that are generally used for controlling blood pressure and cholesterol are also associated with an increase of frequency of nighttime leg cramps, as well as other leg related conditions.
However, if you don't have any of the above conditions, it is possible that you need calcium, because although the principal deposit of this mineral is in the bones. That is why when the body needs calcium, muscle contraction occurs mostly in adults.
But, why, at nighttime? Experts explain that during our resting period, the body is being "repaired", when you do not get enough calcium, it sends out a message through cramping. A person already in their 30s and above, that is not getting enough calcium and had a very active day, the body will send a signal through a cramp. In a way, this is the body asking for calcium. Taking a calcium supplement several hours before sleep could eliminate greatly the chances of cramping. But, if these contractions are very recurrent, you could opt for treatments such as laser therapy, hydro massages or TENS therapy.
It is also very important to point out that a lack or excess of physical activity, in addition to a deficiency in the diet can promote the nighttime leg cramps. Coincidentally, people who do an excessive amount of physical exercise, where they lose electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium can also suffer from nighttime leg cramps. That is why it is recommended that a balanced diet to complement the daily routine of each person, alongside a healthy intake of calcium supplements.