If its not in the dead of sleep, it can also happen from exercises or excessive heat, (or due to an injury but that's something we'll talk about later). The question comes in to play as to why does this happen in the first place?
A muscle cramp is an involuntary contraction of a muscle. This involuntary contracted muscle does not relax and can extend for what seems like forever (usually only a few seconds but can go much longer).
So what is happening to the muscle to cause it to contract like that? Well there are a couple different thoughts about this process and they are this: the muscle is the problem, or the nerve is the problem. So who's right?
Well it seems as though more current research is pointing to the nerve as the problem maker.
Because of this, the treatment might be handeled slightly different. The first thing to focus on when someone gets muscle cramps on a regular basis is to treat nerve fatigue. So why does a nerve get fatigued? Well its just like any other part of the body. If its doing a task for too long or too intensely, the nutrients become depleted and the cells ability to recover drops.
What are the nutrients that are most responsible for neuromusclular transmission? They are magnesium, calcium and Vit D.
So a lot of people might know about the first two, but not the 3rd....read on.
Both magnesium and calcium play a large roll in how the nerve communicates with the muscles. An overly simplified way to think about this is that the natural state of muscle is to actually in a contraction. That means that what the nerve is actually doing is "shutting the muscle off", not turning it on.
If you are deficient in magnesium or calcium, it prevents the nerve from "shutting the muscle off" leading to a muscle cramp. By having good storage of magnesium and calcium, the nerve will always be able work properly. Now...about Vitamin D.
NINETY PERCENT of the US is deficient in vitamin D...and vitamin D is responsible for calcium absorption. If you're deficient in Vitamin D, your body won't be able to regulate calcium levels.
Whats the best way to approach this?
Increase your vitamin D...immediately. The vitamin D counsel recommends 25 IU's per pound of body weight (ex: a 200 lb man should take 5000 IU's per day). The best way to do this is through a suppliment.
Step two. Increase your foods that have magnesium and calcium in them...what is one of the best foods for both???....SPINACH.