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Have a nightcap for leg cramps at night

Having a glass of tonic, without the gin or vodka, might be the trick to beat nighttime leg cramps.

Leg cramps can be an excruciatingly painful wakeup call in the middle of the night. These are suffered by both sedentary and active individuals.They are more common in individuals who have undergone a lot of eccentric (lengthening) muscle contractions such as when walking down hills or stairs. Lengthening muscle contractions cause micro damage to the muscle fibers causing them to fire more irregularly, particularly during one’s sleep.

A once common over-the-counter treatment, and now prescription medication, for nighttime leg cramps is quinine sulfate. While primarily a medication for the treatment of malaria, one beneficial side effect of quinine is its ability to stabilize the muscle membrane thereby relieving cramping.

For people with minor and infrequent cramps a couple of cups of tonic water might play the trick at preventing or treating those cramps. In a six ounce cup of tonic water there is approximately 20 mg. of quinine. If you have more severe or persistent cramping the best recommendation would be to talk with your physician about a more potent prescription for quinine sulfate. There are few side effects of quinine and your pharmacist or physician will know if there are any potential drug interactions with other medications you are currently using.

So now your “night cap” will allow you to go to bed without the fear of being woken during your slumber by those painful cramps.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 08.29.05