There’s nothing quite like being rudely awoken in the middle of the night by a searingly painful muscle spasm. Jolting you from your peaceful slumber, these bouts of cramp can last for anything from a few seconds to several minutes. In the worst cases, the episodes can go on for up to ten minutes. No matter how short or long they are though, leg cramps can stop you enjoying a good sleep, and they can be extremely uncomfortable. If you get them often enough, they might also mean you go to bed fearing what may lie in store for you during the night.
The good news is, there are ways to reduce your risk of suffering leg spasms. By following these three steps, you could tackle this troublesome issue.
1) Do some detective work
Sometimes, leg spasms strike for no apparent reason, and these so-called idiopathic leg cramps can be hard to predict. However, cramps are often a symptom of another health condition. For example, they are associated with pregnancy, liver disease, infections and dehydration. They can also be triggered by exercise, and medications such as statins and diuretics may raise your risk too. To tackle your cramps, it’s important to try to understand what’s causing them, and this may mean booking an appointment with your GP.
2) Make sure you stretch, and always stay hydrated
It’s also a good idea to stretch any affected muscles a few times a day, including once just before you go to bed. For example, a good exercise to try if you tend to get spasms in your calves involves positioning your feet flat on the floor about a metre away from a wall and leaning forward with your arms stretched out in front of you. Hold this stance for around five seconds, and repeat the exercise for five minutes. This might seem like a hassle, but it’s worth it if it helps to keep your cramps at bay.
Make sure you are always well hydrated too. A lack of water in the body can cause a drop in salt levels, and this is known to trigger cramp.
3) Get your sleeping position spot on
Think about your sleeping position as well. If you tend to drift off on your front, try to make sure your feet hang over the end of your bed. This will keep them in a relaxed position. Alternatively, if you lie on your back, keep your toes pointing upwards. To do this, you might need to place a pillow on its side at the end of your bed and prop your feet up against it.
Bear in mind that adjustable beds can make it easier to achieve a suitable sleeping position, and designs that feature in-built massage functions can help to boost your circulation, reducing your risk of cramp yet further.
By getting to the bottom of what’s causing your cramps and taking steps to reduce the risk of attacks, you stand a better chance of getting a good night’s sleep free from unwelcome spasms.