Drink More Water
Research has shown that one major cause of muscle cramps is dehydration. Although we all know we should drink a lot of liquids (typical recommendation is 8 cups a day), most of us don't. Drink more. During the day and on into the early evening. Teas and juices work too. Alcoholic drinks don't. They cause dehydration
Keep your bedclothes loose. If they're tight or heavy, they can restrict the movement of your feet. If you sleep on your back with your toes pointing up, make sure the bedclothes are loose enough to not force
your to point downwards or upwards. If that's not possible, sleep on
Less Alcohol and Caffeine
Minimize (or totally stop) your intake of alcohol or caffeine in the evening. Both can lead to dehydration.
Drink (Eat? It's pretty thick) some molasses. Molasses is high in potassium and also has calcium and magnesium.
Drink orange juice daily. It's high in potassium.
Soap in Bed
Yes, really. Many people claim to prevent leg cramps by keeping a bar of soap between their bedsheets. Snopes.com, the “go to” website to determine the validity (and usually falsity) of urban myths, gives soap for leg cramps an “Undetermined” label. The site states that while no one knows why this remedy might work, there are a lot of anecdotal claims that it does work. Interestingly, the size of the soap doesn't seem to matter (small bars of soap in hotels supposedly work fine), or even if the soap is wrapped or unwrapped. All soap seems to work, although there have been some reports that Dial and Dove soaps are not effective. Again, none of this involves any scientific research. It's all anecdotal. But if you're trying to avoid leg cramps, what's to lose? www.snopes.com/oldwives/legcramp.asp
Cramping is the instant contraction of a muscle. Most people have an immediate impulse to move their toes/feet/leg in response. If you do it the wrong direction, it can hurt even more. You want to counter the contraction of your muscle by stretching it, but you need to do it very gently. So if your calf cramps, don't point your toes downward/away from you.
Pull them backward towards your knee so that the calf muscle stretches because it's being pulled downward toward your foot. Don't do this too quickly or too forcefully. Do it slowly and gently. Stretching the foot should help with foot cramps as well. You can also keep your leg as straight as possible while you reach forward and pull your toes toward your head. This will stretch the calf muscle, too. If you can stand up, try doing a calf stretch. Hold onto the back of a chair, or press your hands against a wall and stretch as far back as possible with your sore leg, keeping the full foot (including the heel) of that leg flat on the floor. Lean forward, bending the knee of the “good” leg. This will stretch the muscle on the sore calf. Go easy and then ease into greater stretching. You'll know how far you can go.
Try our toe wiggling exercise. (We recommend this exercise to help you relax and go to sleep as part of our Insomnia Tips but it's just as useful for keeping your toes and feet relaxed in order to avoid cramping.) Lie on your back and wiggle your toes up and down 12 times, wiggling the toes of both feet at the same time. This will relax your entire body, inside and out. Note: This same exercise is also great first thing in the morning before getting out of bed in order to energize the body.