I usually try not to wake up before 3:00 AM but after suffering one of those jump-out-of-bed-and-curse moments thanks to a calf muscle twisting Charley horse I decided to grudgingly get an early start to the day and head to work.

While driving in (and still in pain) I had a few thoughts like: Does anybody else get Charley horses while sleeping? What can I do to prevent them from attacking in the night? Who is this "all-important egotistical Charley" guy who gets a muscle spasm named after him?

First, I figured the headline, Wicked-Ass Charley Horse Wakes Local DJ was better than any other I saw this morning so I'm rolling with it.

Now, let's answer those thought questions:

According to About.com some of the causes of leg cramps in the middle of the night include too much exercise, (well THAT didn't cause it) muscle fatigue, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and the regular use of cholesterol reducing meds like statins.

The best ways to avoid getting leg cramps is to stretch before bed, eat a banana or two daily for a good source of potassium, and stay hydrated throughout the day.

If leg cramps become a persistent and recurring problem, you should be evaluated by your doctor - or - you could be like me when it happens;

  1. jump rapidly from the bed,
  2. curse
  3. stub toe on nightstand
  4. curse again
  5. make an loud "intake breath" that sound like the air nozzle at the gas station
  6. hop through the hallway trying not to wake the family
  7. lean on a door frame to stretch the offending painful calf
  8. slowly walk it off
  9. calm your dog and cat - who are confused about your strange behavior

Finally, how did the Charley horse get it's name?

According to World Wide Words, Charley was a lame horse of that name that pulled the roller at the White Sox ballpark in Chicago near the end of last century. However, the Washington Post in 1907 said it referred to the pitcher Charley Radbourne, nicknamed Old Hoss, who suffered from leg cramps during a game in the 1880's.