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Did you know that tea and coffee dehydrate?

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Ouch!! My legs are cramping so badly in the middle of the night! Why is this happening to me? Many patients I see come complain of muscle cramping in the middle of the night, and sometimes during the 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Most of the time the best advice I can give them is to drink more water, not coffee or tea. It is a common misconception that drinking anything will keep the body hydrated but this is incorrect. Drinks like tea, coffee, and soda are diuretics, meaning they will take more water out of the body through urination. Have you ever noticed that drinking coffee or tea will make you go to the bathroom more frequently? That is because it is making the fluid leave your body instead of holding on to it to hydrate your muscles and cells.

Remember that the body is over 50-60% water, so it needs this hydration to function properly, especially when taking medications. Everyone has heard the "8 by 8” rule which is eight, 8 ounce glasses of water a day. This is an easy way to remember about how much fluid you need, even though more would not hurt.

Those 8 ounce glasses should be filled with water, not coffee, tea, or other diuretics. Gatorade and vitamin water can also help with cramping because they contain electrolytes. For some people those drinks may be too sugary but they can reduce that effect by just adding water.

Another good way to make sure you're drinking enough water is to fill a pitcher with 2-3 liters (or quarts) of water. Your goal is to drink all the water by the end of the day.  This way you will know you have taken in enough water, even if you have had tea or coffee and are urinating more. The body will thank you for being more hydrated and those painful leg cramps may diminish, as well!

Contributed by Krista Magnoli, PTA @ The Physical Therapy Center in West Palm Beach, FLorida.

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