Night cramps : I am being woken nightly... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
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Night cramps


I am being woken nightly with very painful leg cramps, can you help by suggesting remedies that might help. I have a pacemaker, type 2 diabetes and blood pressure . Thank you

55 Replies

Julie, often cramps are due to a magnesium deficiency. Try introducing plenty of magnesium-rich foods into your diet daily. For instance, I find that a few dried apricots daily does the trick for me. A GP advised stretches before getting into bed: press-ups against the wall, feeling the stretch in the calves as you lean forward bending your arms outwards. It works for me and hopefully it will for you, too.

Juliec27 in reply to Celtic

Thank you for your advice I will buy apricots today and also try the calf stretches. It is always the same right leg

Celtic in reply to Juliec27

Din’t forget to look up other magnesium-rich foods - there are lots, not just dried apricots!

Hi Julie

I know someone who had these badly. He had to give up gliding because they occurred day and night, waking him up nightly.

After giving up fish the cramps went completely and have not returned.

I also agree that magnesium is often quoted as a help :)

Juliec27 in reply to TRST

Thank you I will buy some today

Juliec27 in reply to TRST

Thank you

MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to TRST

Interesting! Fish like salmon and sardines are good sources of magnesium. Being oily fish they are also a source of Omega-3 which is good for us hearties.

TRST in reply to MichaelJH

Yes it was a side effect of going vegan. I think in the early days he had fish occasionally and the cramps always came back.

I believe the theory at the time was that mercury was the culprit, but we'll never know I guess.

MichaelJHHeart Star

Hi... Do the cramps ever occur when walking?

Juliec27 in reply to MichaelJH

No only when lying down, sometimes several times a night, thanks

Juliec27 in reply to MichaelJH

No just when lying down or legs raised, thanks

MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to Juliec27

I have been Type I diabetic for over 50 years. In recent years I have suffered from a condition called PAD (peripheral arterial disease). This affects the legs and arms (rarely). It is caused by narrowing of the arteries in a similar way to those in CVD (cardio vascular disease). Generally smokers and/or diabetics are affected by it. Initially symptoms tend to be cramps when walking although they can occur at rest.

As you have diabetes I think you should ask for a Doppler test to see if you are developing it. It can usually be carried out by a nurse within your GP practice e.

Juliec27 in reply to MichaelJH

Thank you I will speak to him on Monday

I find magnesium oil spray helps a lot, especially last thing at night.

Thanks will get some

Chicken26 in reply to Juliec27

I too use spray at night plus put a bar of soap in your bed by legs and keep bottle of club soda which has quinine in it..few gulps and theyre gone

Yes I use magnesium oil spray. It is good

My GP told me it could be a sign of dehydration so I always keep a glass of water by the bed and endure I drink plenty of water during the day. I also found statins were a problem.

Juliec27 in reply to Maisie2014

Thank you I stopped statins 10 days ago but still getting cramp at night

Juliec27 in reply to Maisie2014

Thank you will try to drink more

Julie 27 Hello. This is a nightly occurrence for me. I put mine down to dehydration too and keep a bottle of water handy. I also wear socks in bed as sometimes cold feet can bring it on. I have very low blood pressure and take diuretics. My heart goes out to you as it can be very painful.

valezio in reply to Becksagogo

Becksagogo, I actually found it was diuretics that gave me bad cramp in my legs. Could have been dehydration, anyway I no longer take diuretics and now no more cramp.

Becksagogo in reply to valezio

I'm convinced too valezio but I have to take them. Damned if I do and damned if I don't!

valezio in reply to Becksagogo

Yes I understand, really do feel for you. The pain is dreadful. Take care, I hope there’s a solution for you xxx

Juliec27 in reply to Becksagogo

Thank you so much

I had the same issue and was put on Quinine Sulfate tablets, they worked for me. Might be worth discussing them with your GP.

Thank you

Thank you

MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to Juliec27

Tonic water contains quinine so try a glass in the evening. It is not frequently contra- indicated but worth checking your medication inserts.

I have tonic water with quinine, best one is fever tree or scheweppes, sometimes I have quinine sulphate tablets

Thank goodness you

Yes I was prescribed quinine sulphate but they can have serious side effects.

Best to try tonic water or one of the other suggestions, most of which I've tried.

The one that works best for me is the stretching (see diagrams on the internet ),

But I still get cramps frequently especially when I turn over in the night.

Hope you get some relief as it really is so painful.

I find drinking tonic water really helps prevent cramp in my legs and feet at night.

MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to Chrisxal

Tonic water contains quinine the active ingredient in Keep-it-ticking 's tablets.

MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to MichaelJH

There is a BNF list of interactions here:

Don't think the type 2 is involved as spouse and I both suffered night cramps and I'm not diabetic though he is. I buy Magnesium tablets from Superdrug in UK and since we have been taking these tablets daily, over 2 years, have had negligible cramps, which had become seriously disruptive every night. Worth reading the paperwork of any heart drugs, though as these may reduce minerals in the body and cause cramps, in which case supplements could help.

Thank you

So many remedies given without knowing what medication you are on.

Normally night time restless leg syndrome is caused by medication.

Juliec27 in reply to Palpman

Thank you

I find drinking tonic water helps. Buy a good quality one with as much quinine in as possible.

Palpman in reply to WeaverShaz

People with heart arrhythmias are not to have quinine at all as it aggravates it and can cause prolonged QT and TdP if on antiarrhythmic medication.

WeaverShaz in reply to Palpman

OK, didn't know that. Thanks.

Hi Julie! I am a type 2 diabetic and suffer from these awful leg cramps when I am in bed too. They are so painful that I can't move my legs, and reduce me to tears. Mentioned it to my Gp and he suggested I am not drinking enough fluids... which definitely isn't the case for me. I also suffer from high blood pressure and CKD.

My sincere sympathies to you too, these cramps are very painful and upsetting

They are honestly the worst pains I have ever felt Julie. Same with you, I only get then when I go to bed. Hopefully we are able to get some answers as to why soon.

Thank you

When I was 1st prescribed Avorstatin I used to wake in the early hours with leg pains, mostly in the shin area that felt like I'd just competed in a farmers show shin kicking competition . I moved to taking the dosage late in the evening just before bedtime and I found the issue disappeared.

I don’t have a remedy to prevent.

But if I get a bad cramp I shower the area with hot water.

Within 5 minutes the muscles relax and he cramps stop.

I too am a night cramp sufferer. I can wake 5 or 6 times a night with unbearably painful cramp in my legs and feet which leaves my muscles feeling tired and sore the next day. The only thing I’ve learned is that you need to keep up your water intake. Now I know everyone on this forum shudders when I say I take on 2 litres of water a day plus other liquids but it’s the only way I can get a decent night’s sleep! Of course I’m up to the loo during the night but at least I miss out on the painful legs. Start drinking early in the day, don’t leave it until you remember later, start at breakfast and keep it going. Magnesium spray on your legs does also help last thing at night I’ve found but is no substitute for extra fluids. Good luck and believe me I share your pain. X

It's an old wives tale but it can work - A bar of soap tucked in at the end of the bed between the sheets. It can be a problem if you're tall though!

Hi There. My husband had awful calf Cramps. Hes got heart disease and had stents fitted 15 months ago. So hes finished his Clopidogrel. He had Hodgkins Lymphoma 2017/18 and had 6 months chemo. So the leg cramps was a toss up between chemo nerve damage or meds for the heart! We tried everything for the cramps. Tonic water. Stretches. Exercise. Diet changes. Nothing worked.

But we found a solution with doctors help. He started on a 10mcg dose of Amitryptoline (not sure I spelled that right) Hes now upto 60mcg and the cramps have gone. Took him a while to adjust but he now sleeps very well. Although the snoring still goes on🙈 Hope that helps x

Thank you very much

I used to get terrible cramps in both calfs up until 2 years ago.Then I. had my heart bypass and the cramps stopped. Worth a try.ah ah x

I used to get night cramps then someone recommended bananas for the potassium so most days I have half a banana sometimes the whole and don’t suffer now. I’ve also read that rubbing magnesium cream into legs at night can help.

I suffered badly from leg cramps every night. Some medications cause cramps including naproxen and some blood pressure meds. Look up side effects of what you are taking. You might need to switch. I use apple cider vinegar and ginger in a cup of hot water before bed. Also take magnesium and have a gin and tonic before bed. Cramp free at the moment. Good luck

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