Nighttime or Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Natural Solutions for Nighttime leg cramps

Dear Annie – What is best thing to do for bad nighttime or nocturnal leg cramps? The cramps are so bad that my calves feel bruised for a few days. 

Thank you for reaching out. You’re not alone. Nighttime or nocturnal leg cramps are a common problem up to 60% of all adults experience. Most never report it to their doctor. Several natural solutions may be helpful. First let’s take a closer look at what’s biologically going on.

About Nocturnal Leg Cramps

leg cramps
Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Almost everyone experiences a muscle cramp or charley-horse at some point. It happens when a muscle forcibly and involuntarily contracts and will not relax. Painful muscle contractions can happen in any part of the body and to any muscle group. Leg cramps can come or go, or be re-occurring. They can last for minutes to hours and seem to happen more at night. Nocturnal or nighttime leg cramps mostly affect the lower legs and calves but can also happen in the feet and upper legs or thighs. I don’t have to tell you; they are extremely painful. And not only painful, they can cause sleep disruption and insomnia leading to other issues. For some, there may be lingering tenderness that can lasts for hours or days.

Anyone can get nighttime leg cramps.

Although anyone, at any age can get nighttime leg cramps, the number of people increases with age. Here are some statistics by the American Academy for Family Physicians:

  • Slightly more women than men experience night-time leg cramps. 
  • Up to 60% of adults (especially over age 60) will experience recurring nocturnal leg cramps. 
  • 7% of children and teens, usually between the ages of 15 and 18 years.
  • 40% of pregnant women get leg cramps while resting.
  • Only 20% of patients who experience nocturnal leg cramps regularly seek medical attention.  

Causes of Nighttime Leg Cramps

Muscle cramping is a symptom whether it happens at night, while at rest, or during activity When muscles cramp up painfully, there is almost always something else is going on. This is especially true when it happens on a regular basis.

Nocturnal or Night time leg cramps

Medical professionals and researchers don’t know specifically what causes your muscles to cramp. But they have linked it to several possible things:

  • Inactivity
  • Over-exertion
  • Standing or working on concrete floors
  • Sitting improperly, especially for long periods of time
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Nutritional deficiencies -especially Potassium, Calcium, Vitamin B12, and Magnesium

Nocturnal leg cramps have also been linked to several medical conditions and medications including:

  • Cardiovascular disease or circulatory issues in the low back, hips and/or legs
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic or excessive alcohol use
  • Kidney insufficiency
  • Liver insufficiency
  • Flat feet
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Nerve damage or nerve disorder
  • Pregnancy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Structural disorders (flat feet, spinal or hip displacement)
  • Medications: Many medications list cramping, leg cramping and uncontrolled movements as possible side effects. 

This is a long list, which means that your best hope for resolving nocturnal leg cramps is to address the underlying cause. The cause is always personal and individual. We are all unique and no two people have the same circumstances, even when the symptoms are similar. Take the time to look at your background and health history. Everything about you is important including you state of health, level of activity and emotional or mental state. When working with herbal remedies, we always consider the whole person.  A problem you had in the past, but no longer experience, may be at the root of the discomfort.

Natural Solutions for Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Regardless of the root cause there are a few natural solutions that will likely help. 

  • Hydrate
  • Yoga Therapy or Gentle movement and stretching
  • Herbal Remedies
  • Dietary modifications

Hydrate to relieve leg cramping

Hydrate to relieve leg cramping
Image by Gary G from Pixabay

One of the symptoms of dehydration is muscle cramps. It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to drink plenty of fluids every day. Drinking fluids, especially water, helps maintain muscle health and electrolyte balance. Fluids help muscles contract and relax. Fluids also help transport nutrients to the muscle and dispose of wastes. Alcohol consumption and caffeine drinks have been directly linked to the occurrence of nighttime leg cramps especially in those over 60 years old.

Yoga Therapy and Nighttime Leg Cramps

In yoga therapy we work with 5 interwoven levels of the human system called pancha mayas or pancha koshas. Each level affects all of the others. The goal is to address the level of the problem. When the dis-ease is attended to, the uncomfortable symptoms usually resolve. (Sometimes as if by magic.) A good background, including health history, diet, lifestyle choices etc. are needed. Then an individualized program or daily practice is suggested to help you move toward harmonizing the system and resolving the symptoms.

Gentle Movement, exercise and stretching is listed as the most beneficial practice for nocturnal leg cramping in almost every scholarly article I reviewed. That’s pretty unusual. Medical suggestions and studies often list medication first with stretching and movement near the end. Even through yoga or yoga therapy isn’t specifically mentioned, a personalized practice would address not only the acute symptoms in the moment, but could help move the entire system to a lasting harmony. A well thought out personal practice would also quiet the muscular, circulatory, and nervous systems for long term healing.  

forward fold to help relieve nighttime or nocturnal leg cramps

Personalize your practice

A yoga therapy practice is always personalized. And while several personal factors are taken into consideration, here are a few elements to keep in mind.

Qualities of a Yoga Practice to address nighttime leg cramping.

  • Poses or asana should be performed in a quiet and calming way with no pushing, pulling or straining. 
  • Keep the breath gentle and quiet with a focus on the exhale breath.

Poses might include:

  • Gentle standing stretches to the legs and calves
  • Gentle seated forward bends like head to knee pose
  • Gentle lying down twists
  • Legs up the wall

For more information about how yoga or yoga therapy could be used to address your nocturnal leg cramps please e-mail me at or contact me here.

Herbal Solutions for Nighttime or Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Herbal remedies take on a complementary or supportive role when working with nocturnal leg cramping. We want to

  • Reduce the pain and cramping
  • Calm the nervous system
  • Use soothing and relaxing herbs to help you get a good night’s rest.
  • Nutritional herbs can be employed for underlying nutritional deficiencies.

Herbs to address Nocturnal Leg Cramping

Using healing botanicals to address the cramping may be an important and useful piece of the solution. Usually herbs used to relax your muscles in the moment may not prevent future episodes, though easing your pain in the middle of the night will certainly help you get a good nights sleep. Then, in relative comfort you can take the time to address any underlying cause for a more permanent solution.

Herbal Anti-spasmodics

California poppy helps relax leg muscles
Image by Sara Price from Pixabay

Anti-spasmodics are often employed to relieve muscle cramps. Herbs in this category work to relax muscles and regulate nervous impulses. They are taken at the time of cramping. My favorites for working with severe cramping in the legs and lower extremities are Wild Yam Root (Dioscorea villosa), Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolium), Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Ginger and California poppy (Eschscholzia californica).

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger helps relieve cramping
Ginger Root

A circulatory stimulant, anti-spamotic and digestive agent. Ginger increases circulation to muscles, directs herbs to muscle tissue and improves absorption and assimilation of other herbs. These are pretty handy to have in this circumstance.

Calming Nervines

Passion Flower helps relax nerves
Image by anncapictures from Pixabay

Nervines are herbs that help soothe the body, mind and soul so you can get back to sleep. My favorites for nighttime issues with pain and distress are Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata), Wild Lettuce (Lactuca spp), and Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora).


Leg Cramp Tincture from Katia Lemone
1 part Viburnum opulus (Crampbark)
1 part Zingiber officinalis (Ginger)
1 part Dioscorea villosa (Wild Yam)
1 part Scutellaria Lateriflora (Skullcap)
Suggested dosage - 30 to 60 drops (1 or 2 dropper fills) as needed for nightime leg cramps
Calcium and Magnesium Tea
2 parts  Red Raspberry leaves (Rubus idaeus) 
2 parts  Wild Oats (Avena sativa) 
1 part    Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) 
1 part    Rose petals (Rosa spp.) 
Put 1 oz herbs per 16 oz boiling water. Cover and let steep for a minimum of 20 minutes. (overnight is even better). Drink 2 or 3 cups per day. 

For more information about making and using herbal teas and infusions please click here.

Remember, when working with holistic health and herbal therapies there is no one size fits all approach or prescription to any physical or emotional condition.  Everyone is unique.  We all live life and experience things in our own way.  We all have a different constitution, diet and background.  All of this is taken into consideration when making any kind of individualized suggestion.  Please take your own special circumstances into consideration. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about where to begin.

Nutritional Considerations for Nocturnal Leg Cramping

Focusing on a diet with foods that are high in sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium may help prevent or eliminate muscle cramps. It’s best to eat a variety of different foods. In general, stay away from or eliminate processed foods from the diet. Processed foods are low in most nutrients the body needs for good health. 

Although studies on nutritional supplementation are inconclusive and don’t provide enough data to either support or disallow its benefits where muscle cramping is concerned, I feel nutrition needs to be given important consideration. Supplementation alone may not be enough to solve the problem of muscle cramps. Yet, nutrition in general and supplementation are most certainly one piece to the puzzle.

Nutritional Supplementation

Nutrition to help resolve nocturnal leg cramps
Image by Sabrina Ripke from Pixabay


Sodium is required by the body to maintain normal fluid balance and blood pressure. It works together with electrolytes to help regulate nerve impulses and muscle contraction. Some foods containing healthy amounts of sodium are pickled and fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha and kimchee; cheeses like cottage cheese, feta, blue cheese and cheddar are good sources of sodium. Other foods that are beneficial include celery, carrots, pesto and olives.


Potassium is critical for a healthy nervous system and muscular function. It is one of the main electrolytes and is in all the cells in the body. Potassium plays a big part in the generation of electrical impulses. When potassium is deficient, muscle cramping is likely. Foods that provide a good source of potassium include melons, citrus fruits, bananas, avocados, potatoes, sweet potato, pumpkins, dairy and fish.


Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is important for muscle contraction and nerve impulse activity in the body. It plays an important role in the way muscles contract and relax. Good sources for calcium include canned fish with the bones in, dark green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds and dairy. It’s always best to get your calcium from your diet. If you decide to supplement magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin D are needed for calcium to assimilate in a healthy way. 


Magnesium is another essential mineral for muscle and bone health. About 30% of the magnesium in the body is in the muscles where it helps with the contraction and relaxation responses. Because of current farming practices, it can be difficult to get enough magnesium from foods alone. Good food sources containing magnesium are legumes, soybeans, avocado, nuts, seeds, bananas, whole grains, dried fruit and yogurt and let’s not forget our dark green leafy vegetables. When supplementing magnesium, I find magnesium Glycinate and magnesium citrate easier to assimilate than many other forms.

Other Natural Solutions to Help Nocturnal Leg Cramping.

Epsom salt baths before bed

Epsom salt bath to relieve nighttime leg cramps
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Epsom salts added to the bath is a good way to absorb magnesium. They are calming and soothing to the whole body. A nice hot Epsom salt bath is relaxing to muscles and may help prevent cramping.

Abhyanga (Indian self-oil message)

Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic treatment that is helpful when prana or life energy or circulation is compromised. The movement of the oil on the skin stimulates circulation, soothes and calms the nervous system and relieves problems with muscles and joints. For more information about herbal oils and abhyanga please click here.

Heating Pad

Application of a heating pad to the area will often lesson cramping by relaxing muscles and bringing increased circulation to the area. A heating pad is likely to be more effective when oil is also used.

Tonic Water with Quinine

A very good friend of mine, and retired nurse swears by using tonic water with Quinine to reduce or eliminate nighttime leg cramps and restless leg. Trusting everything that she says, I would certainly give it a try.

Product Suggestions for Nocturnal Leg Cramping

Herbs and Products from Wonderment Gardens

logo for Wonderment Gardens

Cramp Ease by Wonderment Gardens is a tincture formula that contains Jamaican Dogwood (Piscidia erythrina), Cramp bark (Viburnum prunifolium), Ginger Root (Zingiber Off.), and California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). This is a lovely formula that works for most acute muscle cramping. 

Affiliate Product Suggestions

This post contains affiliate links.  If there is a product link please assume, I am an affiliate.  That means, if you purchase a product through one of my links, I make a commission at no additional cost to you.  Rest assured I only suggest products I can support and feel confident about.  Thank you for your support.

Supersmart Nutritional Suppliments

The company Supersmart is a pioneer in the European nutritional supplement market. Guided by Naturopathic Physicians, they now offer their high quality products in the United States and around the world.

Magnesium Orotate 500 mg

Magnesium Orotate is a natural compound in which magnesium is bound to orotic acid to facilitate transport of the magnesium across cell membranes. Combining magnesium and orotic acid in this way produces a supplement with high bioavailability. Making this an excellent choice for your magnesium supplement.

Magnesium Orotate 500 mg

Magnesium Orotate 500 mg

Highly-bioavailable form of magnesium

Supersmart Muscle Relaxing Formula

Muscle Relaxing formula is very nice. It is a combination of plant extracts and micronutrients designed to provide immediate and long-lasting relief from muscle pain and discomfort. It contains only organically-grown plant extracts. All of which are recognized for their efficacy against pain. Ingredients include Valerian, Lemon balm, Passion flower and Chamomile. Along with vitamin E, calcium and magnesium citrate.

Muscle Relaxing Formula

Muscle Relaxing Formula

Natural universal remedy for effective relief of muscle pain

Electrolyte Formula From Botanic Choice

Maintaining a healthy electrolyte and mineral balance is essential to resolve and prevent muscle cramping. Although developed to support a low carb lifestyle, this is very nice formula to help anyone maintain a healthy mineral and electrolyte balance. I hope you find it useful for relief of nighttime leg cramps. Contains calcium (from Calcium Carbonate), magnesium (from Magnesium Citrate), Chloride (from Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride), sodium (from Sodium Chloride), and Potassium (from Potassium Chloride).

Perfect Keto Keto Electrolytes - 120 Capsules

Perfect Keto Keto Electrolytes – 120 Capsules

Blended for Optimal Hydration

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It is my bliss to have the opportunity to share my experience and research with you. I hope you find it helpful. I would love to hear from you. Please contact me about your thoughts, ideas and experiences you’d like to share. I love to hear about what you’re doing, what works and what doesn’t. Hope to hear from you soon.





These statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.

Herbs taken for health purposes should be treated with the same care as medicine. Herbal remedies are no substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you are serious about good health, you’ll want to combine diet, exercise, herbals, a good relationship with your doctor and a generally healthy lifestyle. No one of these will do it alone.

This information is designed to be used as part of a complete health plan. No products are intended to replace your doctor’s care, or to supersede any of his/her advice or prescriptions.

7 thoughts on “Nighttime or Nocturnal Leg Cramps”

  1. Hi Annie-got our package this week-Eric likes the Tea and he just started it, his sore throat is getting better and he has stopped his coffee…I am enjoying my Immune Tonic-its very tasty-thanks again…..I was going to add regarding leg cramps-I had awful leg cramps this last chemo I was on-I was directed to a supplement called Calm-which you drank at nighttime as a tea-it really was a god send for me….also we have magnesium spray by the bed…epsom salts baths have been a god send too-love you column and look forward to hearing more..thanks for helping to keep us healthy…..

  2. I used to have leg cramps frequently, both at night and during the day.
    I almost never have them any more because I walk every day, wash in the shower with Life-flo magnesium soap, and add a few drops of Concentrace trace mineral drops into every glass of water that I drink.
    (I can’t take Magnesium supplements because they loosen my bowels way too much.)

  3. thank you for commenting Hank. Yes, magnesium and trace minerals (enzymes) are a big key to relief. I make a lovely magnesium spray as well, that I didn’t add. Maybe I should. Thank you

  4. I enjoyed this article. Thank you for the good information. So far, when I do occasionally get a cramp anywhere in my body, it helps to hydrate. I will keep a copy of the article in case of worsening symptoms.

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