The primary cause of leg cramps at night is unknown, states WebMD. Doctors link this condition to several conditions, including pregnancy, dehydration, alcoholism, structural disorders and Parkinson's disease, says Cleveland Clinic. It is also associated with other cases such as sitting improperly, standing on a hard surface for long periods, taking certain medications, and overuse of muscles.
The chances of suffering from night leg cramps increases with age, explains Mayo Clinic. In some rare cases, the cramps can be linked to underlying conditions, such as peripheral artery disease, spinal stenosis or diabetes. During pregnancy, leg cramps may occur because of decreased levels of magnesium and calcium, says WebMD. Dehydration means that the body loses a lot of fluid, increasing the risk of leg cramps. Certain medications, such as statins, steroids, antipsychotics, birth control pills and diuretics, can also trigger the cramps.
A leg cramp is a strong contraction of the muscle that occurs abruptly and lasts for a few seconds, explains WebMD. It tends to affect the muscles of the foot or thigh and occurs when waking up or when falling asleep. Some ways to prevent night leg cramps include wearing comfortable shoes, staying hydrated, riding a stationary bicycle before bed, and stretching the leg muscles before sleeping, states Cleveland Clinic.