Background

In some people, the calf and other leg muscles go into spasm while they are sleeping — causing them to wake during the night. Though it may help (though painful) to walk the cramps off, they disrupt sleep and prevention is a better answer.

Nutritional deficiencies, tight calf muscles or cold feet can all contribute to night time leg cramps.

Treatment

Therapies & Advice

Stretch

Stretch your calf muscles before you go to sleep. This can be done by pulling your toes towards you when you’re sitting on your bed.

Keep your feet warm

Wearing socks at night can also help because cold feet will sometimes be a trigger.

"Odd" bar of soap trick

Interestingly, several readers of Dr. Peter Gott’s medical column have noted that leaving a bar of soap under their bed sheet stopped their leg cramps. It seems odd, but it is cheap, safe, and easy to try — and has been working for folks! (I have no idea why it works.)

Recommended Supplements

Potassium

Supplement with potassium. This can be done by prescription or by eating a banana and/or drinking 12-16 oz (360-480 cc) of V8® or tomato juice daily.

Calcium

Take calcium 500 mg at bedtime. It must contain magnesium and vitamin D in the calcium tablet.

Magnesium

Take magnesium 200 mg plus B complex (or simply add a multi-nutrient powder for overall nutritional support).

Medications

Quinine

Although the FDA recommends against its use, taking a Quinine tablet 200-300 mg before bedtime can help in severe and refractory cases.

Contributor: 

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is a board certified internist and author of the popular free iPhone application “Cures A-Z,” which was ranked in the top 10 of all health/wellness downloads on iTunes. Dr. Teitelbaum is the author of the perennial bestseller From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery Penguin), which has sold over half a million copies; Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw-Hill); Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy (Deva Press); the Beat Sugar Addiction Now! series (Fair Winds Press);  Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale Press); The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution (Penguin/Avery); and his latest, The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction (Fair Winds Press, 2015).