Tuck A Bar Of Soap Under Your Sheets To Banish Pesky Nighttime Leg Cramps

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a “charley horse,” you know that there are few sensations more acutely uncomfortable.

All of us understand what it’s like to experience simple pain, the kind that you get from stubbing your toe or cutting yourself shaving. It’s shocking and irritating, but it usually ebbs pretty quickly.

Cramping, of course, is a whole different kettle of fish.

Since it’s caused by muscle spasms, the pain doesn’t immediately fade, but twists and spikes and surprises you again when you least expect it. Worst of all, you feel helpless. If you’ve experienced muscle strain, you may be able to stretch it out, as we saw with these handy shoulder exercises, but what about when the spasm is totally random?

That’s the trouble with the infamous “charley horse,” which is a colloquial term for a muscle spasm that occurs in the legs or the feet, often in the middle of the night.

It’s incredibly uncomfortable — but fortunately, it won’t last much longer, because there are plenty of ways to identify what’s causing your cramps and track down the perfect solution!

Do you often experience leg cramps? Would you ever try these surprising solutions? Let us know in the comments below!

Thumbnail Credit: Pinterest

What Are Leg Cramps?

<u>What Are Leg Cramps?</u>
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

A “charley horse” or leg cramp is a painful muscle spasm in your calf, thigh, or foot, according to WebMD.

It gets its name from the cramping sensation associated with receiving a “horse kick” to the quads.

Typically, most people experience these painful sensations at night, usually just as they’re drifting off or waking up.

Something about moving between sleep and wakefulness seems to trigger the muscle spasms.

What Causes My Leg Cramps?
Cause #1: Dehydration

<u>What Causes My Leg Cramps?</u><br>Cause #1: Dehydration
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Another major cause for cramping? Dehydration.

Whether you simply haven’t been drinking enough water, or you’ve been sweating it out in the sun or on a treadmill, when you lose water, you also lose electrolytes.

Electrolytes help to control your muscle contractions and impulses, and when they’re depleted, you might experience more spasming than usual.

Cause #2: You’re Cold

Cause #2: You’re Cold
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This is a toughie, because many of us like to be cold while we sleep, and it’s actually better for our sleep cycle to have a lower temperature in the room.

That said, if you crack the window or turn on the fan, make sure you legs are covered.

It’s not totally clear why the cold causes cramps, but it may be related to the lower temperatures causing muscles to contract and stiffen, becoming inflexible.

Cause #3: Standing All Day

Cause #3: Standing All Day
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If you’re on your feet all day at work, that’s essentially the same as working out, except that you’re less likely to stretch ahead of time.

Standing all day and carrying anything heavy can wear out your legs and put strain on the same muscles all day, making cramping more likely later.

This goes double if you’re standing in heels, as many retail workers do.

Cause #4: Exercise

Cause #4: Exercise
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Understandably, exercising can cause repercussions for your muscles later.

Exercise in the long-term is a good thing, because it builds up the strength of those muscles and makes them less susceptible to cramping.

That said, in the hours immediately after exercising, you might be more vulnerable due to muscle exhaustion and soreness after working out.

How Can I Prevent Leg Cramps?
Solution #1: Grab The Soap

<u>How Can I Prevent Leg Cramps?</u><br>Solution #1: Grab The Soap
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Were you looking for a true medical mystery? Cause we have one.

No one knows why, but thousands swear that nothing fixes nighttime cramps like sticking a bar of soap between the mattress and the bottom sheet.

No particular brand seems more effective than any other, and plenty of people think it’s just a placebo effect.

We heard a story about an arthritic dog reaping the benefits of the soap after sleeping in his owner’s bed, though, so we tend to think there’s something real here.

Solution #2: Take A Warm Shower

Solution #2: Take A Warm Shower
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

There’s a reason that we call the healthful pre-workout stretches “warming up.”

Your muscles actually do function better when they’re warm, and taking a steaming shower can be just the ticket for easing your sore muscles, plus the water pressure can double as a massage.

Of course, while the heat and humidity will help no matter what, it might be even better to soak just the affected part, or to take a bath where you aren’t putting additional strain on the muscle.

Solution #3: Drink Pickle Juice

Solution #3: Drink Pickle Juice
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

I can practically hear you saying “Yuck!” — but bear with me on this one.

Pickle juice is chock-full of salt, which is one of the first things we lose when we sweat.

Reintroducing a hit of salt, sugar, and vinegar can help the body replenish depleted micronutrients and improve its ability to control muscle contractions.

Solution #4: Eat A Banana

Solution #4: Eat A Banana
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

This is an old trick that ballerinas swear by religiously, and, given how intense their training is, they probably know a thing or two about muscle cramps.

If you’re experiencing cramping or you’re afraid of getting a cramp, eat a banana! These tasty fruits are full of potassium, which is another micronutrient responsible for helping your muscles to contract and move without pain.

Do any of these symptoms sound like something you or someone you know might be experiencing?

If so, then make sure to spread the word about these remedies and SHARE on Facebook!