Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Sleep Leg Cramps – Symptoms & Diagnosis 


You may have sleep related leg cramps if:
  • You get a painful feeling in your leg or foot as a muscle contracts and tightens
  • This occurs around the time when you sleep
  • The pain eases when you stretch the muscle that is causing you pain
It is also important to know if there is something else that is causing your sleep problems. They may be a result of one of the following:
  • Another sleep disorder
  • A medical condition
  • Medication use
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse

Risk Factors

Sleep related leg cramps can occur at almost any age. They are more common and frequent in the elderly. Thirty-three percent of those over 60 years of age have sleep related leg cramps at least once every two months. Almost every adult over the age of 50 years will have them at least one time. About 7% of children and teens have leg cramps that are not very frequent. They do not seem to occur before a child reaches the age of eight. Leg cramps occur in about 40% of pregnant women. They tend to go away after delivery.

You are more likely to have sleep related leg cramps if you also have any of the following medical conditions:
  • Diabetes
  • Blood vessel disease
  • Some metabolic disorders
  • Some nerve or muscle diseases
  • Leg cramps can also be related to the following circumstances:
  • Vigorous exercise
  • Use of certain medications
  • Dehydration
  • Fluid and electrolyte disturbances
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Disorders that make you less mobile
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