What Causes Leg
Cramps at Night?

Leg cramps at night are common.

And it's important to make a distinction between leg cramps causes and other causes of leg pain at night.


Because there are several conditions that can cause leg pain at night:

  • fibromyalgia
  • sciatica
  • arthritis
  • night leg cramps
  • varicose veins (I have a free report for you at the bottom of this page.)
  • lower extremity arterial disease (atherosclerosis).

By the way, if you're suffering from Fibromyalgia Pain, I just came across an eye-opening report.

It's about how to end fibromyalgia pain using a safe and natural approach. You'll find it quite interesting. Click here to find out more: Fibromyalgia Remedy Report. (Link opens in a new window.)

So what causes leg cramps at night?

The cramp, or charley horse, is due to the muscle contracting (shortening and tightening) in a sudden and violent way. These nocturnal leg cramps usually occur in the calf muscle. But foot and leg cramps do happen at night also. Cramps in the thighs are less common.

One main reason for the pain is because blood flow to the muscle is restricted. Waste products also build up within the muscle tissue.

Here are nine conditions that may
cause muscles to contract

The underlying causes of leg cramps are unknown. However, here are nine possible suspects:

  1. Dehydration. Not staying hydrated with enough water during the day may be one of the big causes of leg cramps at night. This is most likely due to fluid imbalances of electrolytes (mainly sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium).

  2. Overuse of the muscles, perhaps from exercising, gardening or other physical activities. ( Below in the section about how to prevent leg cramps, I mention Rub On Relief. This natural cream has had fantastic success in relieving muscle aches and pains. Be sure to check it out.)

  3. Night leg cramps during pregnancy effect about 30% of women. In the next article, I have a big caution regarding relief for leg muscle cramps in pregnancy.

  4. Concrete. This sounds a little far fetched to me, but I've read that standing on concrete for long periods of time can lead to leg pain at night. When I was 17, I went to work in a steel factory. It was tough, sweaty, physical labor. We all stood on concrete for eight hours a day, day after day, working our tails off. I never remember any of the men complaining about leg cramps, but then again, these guys were tough dudes. Complaining was for cry babies.

  5. Prolonged standing. Maybe concrete isn't the real culprit and this is. There's a good study that was published in August 2011. It shows that prolonged standing at work is a risk factor for both varicose veins and nocturnal leg cramps. If you have a job that keeps you standing, try to find time and ways to sit down when you can. Break time may be your only opportunity.

  6. Diabetes. Some leg cramps at night may indeed be a result of diabetes. However, please note that just because you have occasional leg pain at night from cramps does not mean you have diabetes.

    Click here for more information about a natural approach to balancing insulin and glucose levels (link opens in a new window).

  7. Shoes that don't fit properly may be what causes leg cramps for some adults and children. In fact, when it comes to what causes leg cramps in women, high heel shoes are something to consider.

  8. Kidney dialysis can be a cause of leg cramps at night.

  9. Medications, including diuretics for high blood pressure, oral contraceptives, and statins.

Important tip if you're taking
statins for cholesterol

One of the side effects of taking statins is muscle aches in the legs. Technically, these are not leg cramps.

However, if you're taking a statin, you would do yourself a big favor by taking CoQ10. Statins deplete CoQ10 in your body. A study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology showed that statins reduce CoQ10 levels by up to 40%!

CoQ10 is essential for good heart health. If you're looking for high-quality CoQ10, (link opens in a new window), this company has created a unique and powerful supplement.

They've also written an interesting and informative article about CoQ10, how to achieve good heart health, and the dangers of statins.

This article is well worth reading. Please note their advanced CoQ10 supplement contains Omega 3 from fish oil. So if you're a vegetarian, you probably won't be interested in this; the article is still valuable reading though.

November 1, 2011 update about high blood pressure: I just read in Solve It With Supplements that 39% of people with hypertension (high blood pressure) have been shown to have a deficiency of CoQ10.

The good news and bad news about
how to prevent leg cramps at night

I've studied the medical literature in depth on the topic of leg cramps at night. If you suffer chronic leg cramps at night, it's clear that it can be difficult to prevent them.

Even so, I have written a series of five articles on this topic that can be of great benefit to you (see the series below).

In those articles I have listed the most common medical suggestions I've come across for helping to prevent leg pain at night from cramps. I highly suggest you read all five articles. 

In addition, I do have some more good news for you.

If you've read my Sleep Passport Home Page and About Me page, you know that for years I have studied sleep and nutrition.

On the other hand, a colleague of mine has spent over 10 years studying pain. He is an expert at pain management.

His name is Jesse Cannone. You may have seen him on NBC.

Jesse invented a pain cream that works wonders on all sorts of leg, knee, back, and muscle pain.

Now, the bad news is, as far as I can tell, this cream does not prevent leg cramps. The good news, as soon as a cramp hits or leg pain starts, this cream can work wonders.

Preventing leg cramps at night is difficult. However, this tube of Rub On Relief works wonders on your cramp pain.

Rub it on, and the pain is gone. Why?

Because it contains 10 powerful natural pain relievers, including an amazing compound called Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO). This is a powerful fatty acid that knocks out pain.

So, if those cramps start, have a tube of Jesse's Rub On Relief right next to you and rub the pain away.

Click here to see if Rub On Relief is something you might want to try. Dr. Mark Wiley introduces the product. And then you can read what Jesse has to say about his popular pain relief cream.

Please note also, this pain relief cream has shipped all over the world to help people.

And Leg Cramp Away may also help you

just as it has helped others

Leg Cramp Away is a homeopathic remedy that helps circulation in lower limbs. Because of this, it helps relieve pain from leg cramps. And it assists in relaxing muscle spasms in the calves and legs.

Up above, on the right side of this page, I have listed some testimonials from people who have used Leg Cramp Away.

You can also click this banner below to learn more about Leg Cramp Away.

Try Leg Cramp Away for leg cramps at night.

Three final things to note

  1. Don't confuse leg cramps at night with restless legs syndrome; they are separate conditions. (See my articles below on restless leg syndrome.)

  2. Night leg cramps while sleeping are when they often occur. If you frequently have severe leg cramps, either during the day or at night, and nothing seems to ease the leg pain, this would be something to take up with your doctor.

  3. If you suffer from insomnia and sleepless nights, whether because of leg muscle cramps, joint pain, or any other reason, this may be the best natural sleep aid you'll ever try. (Link opens a new browser window.) I like the science behind it.

    I also like it because not only can adults take it, but children 12 years and older can too. That makes it an excellent natural sleep supplement for teenagers.

I hate it when I get leg cramps in my legs or feet. So I hope the other articles below are helpful to you.

Here is my detailed series of articles on leg cramps. Plus, information on restless legs syndrome and a free report on varicose veins.

Nocturnal Leg Cramps: Can They Be Prevented?

Leg Pain at Night: 16 Lower Leg Cramps Treatment Options

Night Leg Cramps Treatments: 6 More Options

Stop Leg Cramps at Night! My Final Five Leg Cramp Relief Options

Do You Have Varicose Veins? Click Here For A Free Downloadable E-book.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

19 Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms

Return to Sleep Disorders Home Page

References for What Causes Leg Cramps at Night

  1. Evidence of plasma CoQ10-lowering effect by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. 40% reduction in CoQ10 levels. J Clin Pharmacol. 1993 Mar;33(3):226-9.

  2. Leg cramps. Clinical Evidence 2009;03:1113.

  3. Sleep: The Complete Guide to Sleep Disorders and a Better Night's Sleep. J. Paul Caldwell, MD

  4. Relationship between prolonged standing and symptoms of varicose veins and nocturnal leg cramps among women and men. Ergonomics. 2011 Aug 17.

  5. Solve It With Supplements by Robert A. Schulman, MD
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