All of us are likely to get muscle cramps when we least expect them. Muscle cramps are the result of involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. The sustained contraction of muscles can result in severe pain and inability to use the affected muscles. Night leg cramps are caused by contractions of the leg muscles, usually in the back of the lower leg or calf. Muscle contractions usually make their presence felt just before you fall asleep or just as you are waking up from a deep slumber.
The root cause of night leg cramps is yet be known. However, they are believed to be due to irregular processing of electrolytes. Electrolytes are those chemical elements that are required by the body for performing its basic functions. Muscle cramps are mostly found to occur in older people.
Excessive muscle strain, prolonged sitting, pregnancy, dehydration, diabetes, decreased potassium levels, neuromuscular irregularities etc are the most common causes of muscle cramps. Alcohol consumption and certain medications like albuterol, niacin, diuretics etc are also found to cause muscle cramps.
If you happen to get a cramp, you need to tackle the situation effectively. Instead of sitting or lying down somewhere, you should try to walk with the affected leg. The affected muscle can be massaged well. You should also try to keep your leg straight and should then flex your foot toward the knee. This should be repeated until you feel your calf muscles have stretched considerably. Applying a cold pack on the cramped area is also found to be helpful.
If you frequently suffer from night muscle cramps, make sure you drink lots of fluids during the daytime. Before going to sleep, stretch your leg muscles well. You should also ensure that your diet supplies your body with adequate amounts of potassium. Even after making all these changes, if your leg muscles are still being cramped, you need to consult a doctor.