National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 7: Sleep-Related Movement Disorders

Etiology and Risk Factors for Sleep-Related Leg Cramps

Predisposing factors for Sleep-Related Leg Cramps include medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, pregnancy, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes and other endocrine disorders, metabolic disorders, and neuromuscular disorders.58  Thirty to fifty percent of pregnant women experience leg cramps.59

Certain lifestyle factors can increase the risk of these cramps, including: alcoholism and dehydration, over-exerting muscles through vigorous exercise, using certain medications (including oral contraception, statins, and steroids), and sitting for long periods of time.60 61

References 

58 Allen RE, Kirby KA, “Nocturnal Leg Cramps,” Am Fam Physician. 2012 Aug 15;86(4):350-355.
59 Monderer RS, Wu WP, Thorpy MJ, “Nocturnal leg cramps,” Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2010 Jan;10(1):53-9.
60 Allen RE, Kirby KA, “Nocturnal Leg Cramps,” Am Fam Physician. 2012 Aug 15;86(4):350-355.
61 Monderer RS, Wu WP, Thorpy MJ, “Nocturnal leg cramps,” Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2010 Jan;10(1):53-9.