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Old 07-18-2009, 01:07 PM
garyfritz garyfritz is offline
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Default Sleep, muscle tics / restless legs / etc -- calcium?

In the last 5 years or so I've started developing muscular "tics," mostly in my chest and arms. This happens at night, making it very difficult to sleep. I also have a history of restless legs -- since I was a child, almost 50 years -- but this chest thing is different. It's not the same "oh my GOD I have to move NOW or I'll go insane" effect as restless legs, but more of an involuntary tic.

At about the same time I started having periods of wakefulness where I would wake and be "wired" and agitated. My chest/arm tics would usually kick in at the same time. (But not the restless legs, oddly enough.)

I eventually discovered that calcium (actually cal/mag) helped dramatically. If I woke up I could count on hours of restless thrashing -- but if I took a 250mg calcium pill I'd zonk out in 5 minutes. I found I could take a 250mg pill at bedtime and I wouldn't wake in the night. It gradually got worse so that it would take 2-3 pills at bedtime, then even that wasn't enough to sleep through the night. Currently I take 2 at bedtime, then 1-2 each time I wake -- which is usually 2-3 times a night. I keep the pills & water at my bedside because getting up seems to worsen the wakefulness.

So I've found a pretty benign way to control these symptoms, but they're still disturbing and they're gradually getting worse. I would really like to find a root cause, or at least something that would work better than the calcium. It feels like a reactive band-aid fix instead of a real solution.

BTW I ran this by my MD, who is extremely naturally/nutritionally oriented, and she basically ignored it, which surprised me.

Thanks for any suggestions!
Gary
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Old 07-18-2009, 05:09 PM
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I would recommend Magnesium Malate to relax the muscles. You can also use topically applied Magnesium Oil, for almost immediate relief from muscle tension/cramping. Epsom Salt baths are also one way of relaxing the whole body with Magnesium. From what I've read, Calcium can actually cause muscle cramping. Good luck and welcome!
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Old 07-19-2009, 08:55 AM
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Hmm. I experimented some with magnesium instead of calcium, but cal/mag seemed to work better. The info on the web implies that magnesium is not well absorbed internally, and magnesium oil is a good alternative. There are lots of places selling it, but Swanson has what appears to be good stuff at a very reasonable price.

I really like the looks of this. I have almost constant low-grade tension in my muscles. E.g. right now I have not-quite restless legs and a similar lesser feeling in my upper body. I don't *think* this is normal. It's a little like a "fingernails-on-chalkboard" feeling in my body much of the time. It would make sense that it could be caused by magnesium deficiency.

I think I'll look into the magnesium oil. Thanks!
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:01 PM
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Gary,

Another suggestion you may want to try is the herb Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). It promotes relaxation for the nerves and muscles, and is used for sleep. I use the liquid tincture from Nature's Answer, which is also alcohol-free.
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Old 07-19-2009, 09:10 PM
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I would try some Krill Oil. Or food is no longer has the right balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3.

It does affect the brain in different ways, and it is possible that it may help. I also like the Magnesium idea. It is more likely to be deficient in Mg than Calcium.

Dan
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Old 07-20-2009, 02:11 PM
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Gary,

I had this exact same thing this week.

Actually this week was a real roller coster ride that landed me in the hospital...a combination of nausea and vomiting and dehydration spun me out and I couldn't keep anything down. I had to get IV hydrated. After that I was fine...but in the two days it took to figure out what was wrong with me I had muscle ticks just all over my body, only at night when I would try to sleep.

I'm sure it had everything to do with getting so badly dehydrated and keeling over. When I got back from the hospital, btw, lab work said no electrolyte abnormalities, I did turn to my bottle of magnesium/calcium powder mix that I took as soon as I got home. That night I had no ticks and I seem to be doing OK after a power day at work yesterday.
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Old 07-21-2009, 07:39 AM
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Its amazing what happens to your body when you dont get the amount of water you need... I would agree with arrow, sounds like dehydration!!!! When I dont drink enough water, I get severe leg cramps

Also, we have had articles on this forum and the other one in the past about what sugar substitutes can do....I seem to recall that one of the sugar substitutes caused the tic problems.... Shoot, its on the tip of my brain...what is that disease that causes tics in people????? Supposedly the diet sodas will cause this..... Do you use alot of sugar subs or do you drink diet sodas???? If so, get off of them, and see if that makes a difference.
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:06 AM
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Nope, I drink almost zero soda, and I avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague.

Fortunately good beer doesn't use artificial sweeteners.
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:28 AM
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Followup: I bought some Source Naturals mag malate and some Swanson mag oil. I started putting 5 sprays on each arm & leg at night.

Within less than a week, I slept through the ENTIRE NIGHT -- something I have not done in YEARS!! HUZZAHH!!!! A million thanks to you, Kind2creatures, for this excellent suggestion!!

It hasn't all been perfect, but this is obviously a major key to my problems. I've been experimenting with it for several months now and here is what I've learned:
  • The malate may help some, but I think the oil is 90% of the improvement.
  • After a week of blissful sleep, I went back to waking in the night, but with only minor twitches. A few cal-mag pills usually put me back to sleep for another hour or 3.
  • The oil is NOT pleasant to use. It's pretty irritating and itchy. I have very dry/itchy skin already, so I'm really limited to the areas where I can apply it. I had to quit using it on my legs because it torched off some really intense itching, and that disturbed my sleep almost as bad as the previous problems.

However...
  • I finally realized (duh ) that my wonderful all-night sleep stopped at about the time I quit applying the oil to my legs. Well gee, guess what, that cut my dosage in half!! A few days ago I started applying as much (20 sprays) on my arms/chest as I had been applying to my arms/legs before, and shazam! I am sleeping most of the night again!!
  • I tried mixing the oil with Aveeno lotion to try to reduce the irritation, but that almost seemed to make it worse.
  • The lotion also helped with the application. The spray method is terrible -- the mist goes all over and makes a slimy mess on countertops &etc. Recently I've been spraying it directly into my hand (catching all the overspray) and rubbing that into my skin.

I've been doing some more research, and the DermaMag site at magnesiumdirect.com has some useful info, unlike the Swanson site. For their product at least, they say 8 sprays on each arm & leg (32 total) is approximately 400 mg of elemental Mg, which is about what you're supposed to have. So my 5 sprays per arm/leg (20 total) was well under the recommended dosage, and 5 sprays only on my arms (10 total) was much too little. No wonder I didn't get the full benefit!

So now I'm working on increasing my dosage. The Swanson product seems to work but my skin doesn't like it. Ancient Minerals has an aloe-based gel product that looks good, but it's a bit spendy -- almost a dollar a day in smaller quantities. I think I'll give it a try and see if I can tolerate it better than the Swanson's.

The writeups at magnesiumdirect.com claim that mag oil is actually very beneficial for dry-skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. Their customer testimonials include several people who say it helped their skin. That seems surprising to me, given how it irritated my skin, but maybe it was just too intense and concentrated for my skin to tolerate. Maybe working up in concentration would give my skin a chance to heal. Living in dry Colorado, winters have always been an itchy misery for me. If mag oil could cure my dry/itchy skin in addition to the miraculous improvement in my sleep, I wouldn't care WHAT it cost!!!

So: If you have problems with restless legs, sleep problems, muscle cramps, or many other problems, take a look at mag oil. It really does appear to help a wide range of problems!

Thanks again to everyone for your help!
Gary
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