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Impact of nocturnal calf cramping on quality of sleep and health-related quality of life

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To evaluate the impact of nocturnal calf cramping (a condition that affects one in two people over 60 years of age) on quality of sleep and health-related quality of life.


Eighty adults who experienced nocturnal calf cramp at least once per week and eighty age- and sex-matched controls who never experienced nocturnal cramp were recruited from the Greater Newcastle and Central Coast regions of New South Wales, Australia. All participants completed the SF-36v2 and the Medical Outcomes Study Sleep Survey (MOS-SS).


People who experienced nocturnal muscle cramps reported more sleep disturbance (p < 0.001), less adequate sleep (p = 0.001), less quantity of sleep (p = 0.02) and more snoring (p = 0.03). Both sleep problem summary indices for the MOS-SS identified people who experienced nocturnal muscle cramp as having more sleep problems than the controls. People who experienced nocturnal muscle cramps had lower health-related quality of life for the SF-36 domains role physical (p = 0.007), bodily pain (p = 0.003) and general health (p = 0.02). SF-36 domains that primarily relate to mental health were not significantly different between groups. The impact of nocturnal calf cramps on health-related quality of life was largely explained by their negative impact on quality of sleep.


Nocturnal calf muscle cramps are associated with substantially reduced quality of sleep and reduced physical aspects of health-related quality of life.

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Fiona Hawke received funding for this research from a University of Sydney Postgraduate Award and internal staff grants from the University of Newcastle. The authors acknowledge the assistance of Sean Sadler with data entry.

Conflict of interest

Fiona Hawke receives financial support from the University of Sydney and the University of Newcastle. Vivienne Chuter reports no conflicts of interest. Joshua Burns has received research support from the NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, Fellowship #1007569 and Centre of Research Excellence #1031893), NIH (National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and Office of Rare Diseases, #U54NS065712), Australian Podiatry Education and Research Foundation, Podiatry Council of New South Wales, Charcot Marie Tooth Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, CMT Association of Australia.

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Correspondence to Fiona Hawke.

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Hawke, F., Chuter, V. & Burns, J. Impact of nocturnal calf cramping on quality of sleep and health-related quality of life. Qual Life Res 22, 1281–1286 (2013).

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