Q: What's the cause?
A: Research tells us that leg cramps are twice as common in the summer, & even more so as weather changes from cooler to warmer. As our bodies acclimate to the heat, we sweat more & lose body fluids more quickly. Sweat contains magnesium & potassium in the form of electrolytes, & a deficiency of these minerals can results in increased muscle cramps.
What can you do about it?
1. Stay Hydrated. Drink water throughout the day; if you can't, make sure to drink water before bed. Water is a natural cramp reliever. Mixing tonic water with water may also help offset cramps. Another great natural hydrating drink is coconut water with it's high levels of potassium.
2. Stretch it out. Stretching before bed can help prevent leg cramps in the middle of the night. Do a standing calf stretch with one leg in front of the other, knee bent, and back leg extended. If the problem occurs higher up on the leg, a hamstring stretch should do the trick. Stand facing your bed, place your forearms on your mattress, folding forward at your hips hold for a 20-30 second count. (Remember stretches should be gentle and not cause extreme discomfort or pain.)
3. Increase potassium & magnesium intake. A simple imbalance may be causing a vitamin deficiency in the body, making it difficult for the heart's system to push enough blood down into the legs. Magnesium regulates muscle & nerve function, blood sugar levels, & blood pressure, while potassium serves as an important electrolyte with similar roles in addition to water regulation. Great sources include: asparagus, bananas, leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard & kale, cantaloupe, white & sweet potatoes with skin on, citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, papaya & squash. Other options include: almonds, cashews, peanuts & walnuts, as well as their respective nut butters.
Garrison SR, Dormuth CR, Morrow RL, Carney GA, and Khan KM. Seasonal effects on the occurrence of nocturnal leg cramps. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2015&Livestrong.com