Tired of having foot cramps during sleep? Find out the major causes and 5 ways to prevent them


Have you ever experience foot cramps before? The one that suddenly restrains your movement and makes you struggle in vain? Cramps most likely to occur in athletes, elderly people and pregnant women. But we are no exception either.

It is not a serious condition but they may have a great impact and become a threat to our physical and mental health if occurs frequently. The general impression when it comes to cramps is calcium deficiency. So a lot of people desperately add calcium tablets in their diet, but the condition did not improve.

The truth is, calcium deficiency is not the only cause of foot cramps during our sleep.

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The American Family Physician studied the causes of mid-night cramps in 60% of adults in 2012 and found eight reasons for cramps as follows:

1. Cold feet – Having the fan or air conditioner directly blows your feet or not using quilts during the winter night will make your feet suffer from cold, thus increase your chance of getting cramps.

Cold feet increases the chances of having cramps.

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2. Excessive exercise – Glycogen stored in the body is used as a source of energy during exercise. If it has been used too much and the calories are not replenished in time, foot cramps or muscle fatigue may occur.

3. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalance – Long exposure in the hot sun without sunscreen and timely replenishment of water, or sweating during exercise will make the body loses water and electrolyte. Drinking tea and coffee can also cause the body to be dehydrated and electrolyte imbalance.

Drink a lot of water to replace the water loss in the body.

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4. Poor blood circulation – If you sleep in a position where the knees bent for a long time and feet slightly move, it may cause cramps. Wearing high heels for a long time may also cause poor blood circulation and cramps.

5. Lack of nutrients – Insufficient intake of minerals such as calcium and, magnesium and sodium potassium ions can cause electrolyte imbalance which leads to cramps.

Insufficient minerals can cause cramps too.

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6. Pregnant women – Total fluids and electrolytes are not balanced during pregnancy. The fetal load in the uterus also causes poor blood circulation in the lower limbs.

Most importantly, hormone changes and lack of nutritional supplements may cause cramps in pregnant women.

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7. Kidney disease or other diseases – Patients with kidney disease using dialysis can’t metabolize body waste normally, hence drastic changes in the body’s electrolytes that can cause cramps. Cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes are other diseases that prone to cramps due to changes in ambient temperature that affect blood circulation. Sciatica, spinal neuropathy, and neuropathy may also cause cramps.

8. Emotional tension – Muscles suddenly and involuntarily contracted, hence causing muscle stiffness and pain during tension. Muscle cramps usually occur in the legs and feet, most commonly calf gastrocnemius, soles, and toes. Cramps occur in the biceps femoris (back of the thigh) and quadriceps (front of the thigh) are called thigh cramps—more serious and the pain lasts longer.

To avoid having cramps, try doing these five things:

  1. Keep your feet warm – avoid fan directly blowing your feet and wear socks when sleeping. Soak feet in hot water before bed if the weather is too cold.
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  1. Drink sports drinks – drink it to supplement water and electrolytes lost during vigorous exercise. Eat some food to replenish energy.
  2. Eat enough minerals – Include milk, yogurt, green vegetables, beans, nuts and whole wheat for calcium and magnesium. Eat orange, celery, and banana for electrolyte supplement.
  3. Stretching and massage – Do light stretching exercise and leg massage before bed, but not vigorously.
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  1. Drink moderately – Do not overdose your coffee, tea or diuretic-containing drugs that have a diuretic effect.

Make sure to observe your daily routine and food intake to avoid cramps.

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