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jonsblond's avatar

What can I do to help prevent foot and leg cramps when I try to sleep?

Asked by jonsblond (43432points) 1 month ago from iPhone

My job is physically demanding. I’m on my feet all day walking a lot and doing heavy lifting. There are times when I go to bed and then toss and turn for at least an hour because my feet cramp. It hurts so bad that it’s brought me to tears.

I tried to go to bed at 8:30 pm last night to get a good night’s sleep but didn’t fall asleep until 10:30 due to the pain. It also woke me up several times.
I need suggestions!

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23 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Staying hydrated helps with cramps. You would benefit from having your sodium and water at a healthy level.

canidmajor's avatar

I spent years working retail books and restaurants. You probably already know about c9mpression socks and footwear, so I’ll just suggest supplements. I have had excellent results from magnesium and potassium supplements for alleviating cramps. NAIDS for alleviating swelling at the ankle joints helped a lot, too.

Good luck, I hope it gets better.

jonsblond's avatar

Thank you! I always forget about supplements and sodium.

gorillapaws's avatar

Compression stockings, compression stockings, compression stockings, and not just TED hose, but quality, graduated compression. Talk to your PCP about getting fitted for compression stockings, if they’re not very knowledgable, you could check with a specialist in veins in your area. When you make the appointment mention that you’re interested in possibly getting fitted for compression stockings because of your chronic leg pain. Elevate your legs too, and be sure to flex your calf muscles frequently during the day when you’re on your feet.

smudges's avatar

@gorillapaws is right on. I have custom compression socks. They aren’t cheap (I think about $80 per pair) but your doc or a vascular doc can tell you whether you need them or regular ones, and they should be able to suggest a quality brand. I can’t speak for the ones you can get on Amazon that are pretty and fun…they might do the trick for you, but you need them tight!

Aside from that, I also was having cramps in my feet and calves waking me 7–8 times per night. Someone here suggested magnesium. I’ve been taking 500mg at night for months now, and haven’t had any more cramps.

JLeslie's avatar

Flex your foot. Flex means if you are lying on your back, your toes are up directed at the ceiling or even more coming towards your face. Avoid pointing your toes down like a ballerina.

Next time you get a blood test have them check your vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency causes my muscles to cramp. Also, if your potassium is low that can cause cramps, but often people have completely normal levels and still cramp, and that’s when I point to checking D.

Try soaking your feet in some epson salt or spray magnesium oil on the area. There is such a thing as too much magnesium so I wouldn’t do either every day.

Stay hydrated.

Ibuprofen will help, but you don’t want to take it daily, assuming it is a drug you can take in the first place.

Stretch periodically during the day AFTER you have done a lot of lifting. It helps move the chemicals that cause muscle soreness out of the muscle. Just reach up and to the side with your arms. Flexing your feet is a stretch for your feet and calf muscles; you can do it while standing.

snowberry's avatar

You might be low on magnesium or potassium. I need to take both to prevent cramps.

Talk to your doctor.

chyna's avatar

Though I didn’t ask this question, I suffer from leg cramps at night, too and appreciate every one’s advice.
Good question @jonsblond.

seawulf575's avatar

@snowberry got it. Plenty of fluids, take magnesium and potassium.

JLeslie's avatar

Just going to add my electrolytes are always perfect and I get tested regularly. I’ve even been tested right after exercise. I have muscle cramp problems. If increasing your water and potassium isn’t working and your blood levels are always good, it’s probably something else or something in addition to.

Also, if you take statins you might need CoQ10 supplements.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’ll occasionally get a cramp while in bed if I am dehydrated. I stretch it out, hobble to the bathroom, and drink about 5 ounces of water. That’s the right amount for me. More than that and I’ll have to get up to pee. Rarely (if ever) am I bothered again.

JLeslie's avatar

^^When you walk you flex you foot.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@JLeslie Exactly. While still under the covers, I pull my cramped foot up with my other foot to stretch it out.

Poseidon's avatar

Quinine may help please read the text below before taking it.

‘Quinine should not be considered a routine treatment for nocturnal leg cramps, and should only be considered when cramps cause regular disruption of sleep. Before use for nocturnal leg cramps, the risks should be carefully considered relative to the potential benefits. Quinine should only be considered:

when cramps are very painful or frequent
when other treatable causes of cramp have been ruled out
when non-pharmacological measures have not worked (eg, passive stretching exercises)
A reduction in frequency of leg cramps may take up to 4 weeks to become apparent. Patients should be monitored closely during the early stages of treatment for adverse effects. After an initial trial of 4 weeks, treatment should be stopped if there is no benefit. Treatment should be interrupted approximately every 3 months to reassess the benefit. In patients taking quinine long term, a trial discontinuation may be considered.

Summaries of product characteristics and patient information leaflets are being updated, and should be consulted for safety information’

You can purchase quinine in some countries such as Canada but I don’t think it can be purchased in the .

My strong recommendation is that you consult your doctor before taking quinine because there are other treatments available and your doctor will be able to prescribe these.

I kniw what night cramps are like as I suffer from them myself especially my legs and feet.

kritiper's avatar

Try keeping your legs warm with tall socks.

jonsblond's avatar

Thank you for all the great suggestions. I’m happy to hear my question has helped someone else as well. :)

SnipSnip's avatar

Eat bananas and take vitamin E.

From Cleveland Clinic…drugs that may cause leg cramps:
Albuterol/Ipratropium (Combivent®).
Conjugated estrogens.
Clonazepam (Klonopin®).
Gabapentin (Neurontin®).
Naproxen (Naprosyn®).
Pregabalin (Lyrica®)
Zolpidem (Ambien®).
Sertraline (Zoloft®).
Fluoxetine (Prozac®).
Celecoxib (Celebrex®).

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy can cause nerve damage, which may also cause leg cramps.

Lightlyseared's avatar

May want to mention it your doc. It can be a symptom of a number of diseases.

LifeQuestioner's avatar

I second the water thing. I can always tell when I’m not drinking enough water over the course of a few days because I start getting those cramps at night too.

smudges's avatar

Somewhat off-topic: regarding drinking water…do it! Whomever you are! Drink a minimum of 32 oz/day, more if you can. I stopped drinking water completely due to a med I was on that made me not want to drink. I didn’t drink it for at least 4 weeks, or just minimally like to take meds. I came down with a case of gout in my toe. ohmygawd you’ve probably never felt such pain! It was like a broken bone. I kept picturing this huge cartoon throbbing toe. Got rid of it but didn’t learn my lesson. Got another case even worse in my big toe about 3 weeks later. Am now drinking a minimum of 32 oz and strive for 64.

Cupcake's avatar

Magnesium and potassium have already been mentioned. Another possible source of muscle cramps is a build-up of lactic acid (such as from overworking the muscles). I have a condition where I develop lactic acid buildups (in the form of muscle and joint pain) from light daily activity. I treat it with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) by drinking Alka-Seltzer Gold in water (can also add in electrolytes at the same time) or by rubbing lotion mixed with baking soda on to the area topically. You can buy sodium bicarbonate lotion on Amazon (PR lotion), but it is quite expensive (and very sticky) – it is easy enough to just make your own.

If this helps, you can be fairly confident that your issue is lactic acid.

canidmajor's avatar

During a recent conversation with friends this topic came up, and a friend recommended adding folate to the supplements. Her doctor had recommended it when she was losing a lot of sleep to the cramping.

LifeQuestioner's avatar

By the way, and I hope this won’t be flagged as off topic, because it’s not really how to prevent leg cramps, but I learned a while back that if you get a really bad one, sometimes it actually is more effective to tighten up on your muscle as opposed to trying to stretch it out and relax it. I don’t know why that is, but one time I was having an absolutely horrible leg cramp, that would not go away no matter what I did and so I was laying in my bed and I googled it and it said to do that. It seems really unintuitive but it made it go away almost right away! I guess maybe because when you’re flexing some muscles you’re actually relaxing others, so depending on which muscle is the one actually cramping, maybe you are relaxing it by flexing another one.

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