What causes muscle cramping, contracting at night?

Science and Health

We’ve all been there: you’re in your bed, deep asleep and dreaming of sunny skies when suddenly, there’s a sharp pain and you get thrown back into reality.

Muscle cramping, particularly leg cramping and contracting in the calf, is very common, and for some reason loves to attack specifically when we’re asleep.

On Professor Rafi Carasso’s radio program on 103FM on Thursday, a 66-year-old listener shared that he suffers from very strong muscle contractions in the calf, claiming that it hurts so bad that it wakes him up.

Here’s what to do

Luckily, Carasso had the exact response on how to help deal with this phenomenon.

First of all, as a follow-up question, Carasso asked the listener what medications he was taking. He clarified the reason, saying, “A lack of potassium causes muscle contractions. A lack of magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, can cause muscle contractions, too. Most of the muscle contractions that exist today are from a lack of magnesium.”

THE AVERAGE PERSON naturally has 25 milligrams of magnesium in his body, but needs to consume between 320 mg. and 350 mg. daily to supplement that amount, Sheba Medical Center’s Prof. Michael Shechter says. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

He explained that this is “because 80% of the water we drink is desalinated, and when it is desalinated it lacks magnesium and minerals. Potassium is found in bananas, grapefruits, and green vegetables.”

He recommended that the listener take potassium supplements three times per week, and perhaps even add magnesium, as well.