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The nightmare of nocturnal cramps

Old age or dehydration? Jane Bates investigates the cause of her night-time muscle spasms.
Jane Bates

Old age or dehydration? Jane Bates investigates the cause of her night-time muscle spasms

Nocturnal cramps have not disturbed my sleep since I was a cyclist. Back in the day I would push myself to the limit, but I hadn't been cycling, Id just spent a long, arduous day at work.

Anxious not to spend another night clutching my calf and hopping round the bedroom, I googled night cramps. The treatment caught my eye. Quinine. There is quinine in tonic water, and there was plenty of that in the fridge.

But quinine came with dire warnings may cause blindness and death'. Yikes. Diluting the tonic with plenty of gin seemed the only solution.

So if the treatment was a bit scary, I had better tackle the cause. Pregnancy, dehydration, over-exertion, getting older. The last one stuck out like a knotted muscle.

I spend

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Old age or dehydration? Jane Bates investigates the cause of her night-time muscle spasms 

Nocturnal cramps have not disturbed my sleep since I was a cyclist. Back in the day I would push myself to the limit, but I hadn't been cycling, I’d just spent a long, arduous day at work.  

Anxious not to spend another night clutching my calf and hopping round the bedroom, I googled ‘night cramps’. The treatment caught my eye. Quinine. There is quinine in tonic water, and there was plenty of that in the fridge. 

But quinine came with dire warnings – ‘may cause blindness and death'. Yikes. Diluting the tonic with plenty of gin seemed the only solution.  

So if the treatment was a bit scary, I had better tackle the cause. Pregnancy, dehydration, over-exertion, getting older. The last one stuck out like a knotted muscle. 

I spend half my life explaining to people (tactfully) that their condition is a result of old age. Reactions from patients are mixed; most people possess enough common sense to have already come to terms with this, while others respond with humour. But I was proving to be one of those in denial. ‘Whaddya mean, getting older?’ 

Then I re-read the list, and ‘dehydration’ caught my eye. My shift had been on an exceptionally hot day with few chances to grab a glass of anything, and I had been too tired to drink when I got home. 

So that was probably the explanation, because the muscle spasms have now ceased. I might just have a gin and tonic to celebrate. For medicinal purposes, of course.  


About the author

Jane BatesJane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

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