Muscles cramp when they suddenly contract or tighten. This is painful when it lasts for more than a few seconds. It can happen during the night, usually just as you are falling asleep or waking. It most often affects the thigh muscles or the feet. Science has yet to explain why muscles act in this way. As those who regularly engage in sport can tell you, cramp is often associated with strenuous activity, particularly if you're dehydrated, i.e. the muscles are complaining of overuse. It can also affect women during pregnancy and both genders when the temperature drops. Stopping the pain can be difficult. Stretching and massage is the ideal, or trying to walk on the affected leg is helpful, but sometimes it feels better not to move. Left with pain when the actual cramp has passed, a hot shower or warm bath can complete the process of relaxing the muscles.
As a preventive treatment, you can drink large quantities of water. Because dehydration is a problem, this also means avoiding alcohol and drinks which contain caffeine. These encourage you to urinate a lot. Adding more calcium, potassium and magnesium to your diet and, sometimes, multivitamin pills can help. If you are exercising, reduce the intensity until your body grows more used to the activity levels.
Traditionally, quinine has always been favored. Since this is part of tonic water, it's relatively easily obtained in dilute form. The FDA banned the sale of quinine over the counter in the mid-1990s and, in 2007, all but one of the quinine-based medications were withdrawn from prescription use. Based on all the evidence, the FDA concluded the risks outweighed the benefits. So, if quinine is now out of the question, you should first try increasing your hydration, improve your vitamin levels and moderate your level of activity. If you continue to suffer nighttime leg cramps on a regular basis, you will have to consider using a muscle relaxant like Carisoprodol. Although the use of these drugs is effective, it's not recommended that any of them, including Carisoprodol (Generic Soma), should be used over long periods of time.