For most people, night leg cramps are just a bother — something that jerks them awake sometimes. But some people who have them might need to see a health care provider.
Seek medical care right away if you have:
- Severe cramping that continues.
- Night leg cramps after coming into contact with a toxin, such as lead.
Schedule an office visit if you:
- Are tired during the day because leg cramps interrupt your sleep.
- Have muscle weakness and muscle wasting with leg cramps.
To help prevent night leg cramps, try to:
- Drink plenty of fluids, but limit alcohol and caffeine.
- Stretch leg muscles or ride a stationary bicycle for a few minutes before bedtime.
- Loosen the sheets and covers at the foot of the bed.
To relieve night leg cramps, try to:
- Stretch the leg and flex the foot up toward the face.
- Massage the muscle with ice.
- Walk or shake the leg.
- Take a hot shower and point the water at the cramped muscle, or soak in a warm bath.
March 02, 2023
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips, current health topics, and expertise on managing health. Click here for an email preview.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing!
You'll soon start receiving the latest Mayo Clinic health information you requested in your inbox.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
- Winkelman JW. Nocturnal leg cramps. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 2, 2022.
- Parasomnias. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/sleep-and-wakefulness-disorders/parasomnias?query=parasomnias. Accessed Nov. 3, 2022.
- Delacour C, et al. Association between physical activity and nocturnal leg cramps in patients over 60 years old: A case-control study. Scientific Reports. 2020; doi:10.1038/s41598-020-59312-9.