National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 7: Sleep-Related Movement Disorders

Treatment of Sleep-Related Leg Cramps

There are both non-pharmacologic or pharmacologic treatments for Sleep-Related Leg Cramps.

Non-pharmacologic Treatment

As noted, some medications may cause these cramps, so stopping drugs that might be a contributing factor can help.64  Cramps can be managed and/or prevented by applying heat to the muscles, staying hydrated, moving the affected leg(s), walking, stretching or massaging the muscles, and by wearing shoes that fit correctly.65 Forcefully stretching the muscles is the most effective way to minimize cramping, when it occurs.66

Pharmacologic Treatment

Some medications may help patients with Sleep-Related Leg Cramps, although the evidence is not robust. These medications include carisoprodol, diltiazem, gabapentin, orphenadrine, verapamil, vitamin E, and vitamin B12 complex. Magnesium has shown mixed benefits among adults. Quinine is no longer recommended as a treatment modality, due to the risk of serious adverse events.67 68

References 

64 Monderer RS, Wu WP, Thorpy MJ, “Nocturnal leg cramps,” Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2010 Jan;10(1):53-9. 
65 Cleveland Clinic, Nocturnal Leg Cramps, Cleveland: Cleveland Clinic, 2015. Available online at:  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Nocturnal_Leg_Cramps.
66 Monderer RS, Wu WP, Thorpy MJ, “Nocturnal leg cramps,” Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2010 Jan;10(1):53-9. 
67 Allen RE, Kirby KA, “Nocturnal Leg Cramps,” Am Fam Physician. 2012 Aug 15;86(4):350-355.
68 Monderer RS, Wu WP, Thorpy MJ, “Nocturnal leg cramps,” Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2010 Jan;10(1):53-9.