If you have troubles sleeping, you have probably tried all kinds of remedies to get a good night’s sleep.
Chamomile tea, valerian root, and so on. And among those remedies, one constantly pops up. And that is magnesium for sleep.
Magnesium is one of those minerals that has a number of benefits for your body and overall health. And you do not have to change your sleep routine a lot in order to get a proper sleep. Some interventions will help, like reducing your caffeine intake.
But when it is all said and done, magnesium is probably one of the best natural remedies for sleep.
Table of Contents
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is one of the most common minerals, along with zinc, potassium, and iron. When you talk about minerals crucial for our health, magnesium is on top of the list.
Magnesium plays a role in more than 600 cellular reactions in our body. Every cell and organ in our body needs magnesium in order to function properly.
Magnesium improves the health of our bones, brain, heart, and helps with muscle functions.
Considered one of the seven essential macro-minerals that the human body needs, magnesium can be found in a lot of foods. It is worth noting that our body does not produce magnesium naturally.
Therefore, you need to get magnesium from other sources. The most popular way of getting magnesium is through magnesium-rich foods.
- Dark leafy greens
- Dairy products
- Lean meat products
- Unprocessed whole grains
- Seeds and nuts like almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds
- Dark chocolate
Being deficient in magnesium can lead to all sorts of problems. And the problem is, half of adult men and women in the United States suffer from magnesium deficiency https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22364157.
How magnesium works
As mentioned previously, magnesium is needed in more than 600 cellular reactions. The mineral is involved with more than 300 different enzyme reactions in our cells.
Here is a quick breakdown of the most important functions of magnesium for our body:
- Plays a role in energy production
- Activates ATP, the molecule fueling cells in your body
- Regulates transport of calcium, potassium, and other minerals
- Helps muscles and nerves to function properly
- Helps maintain heart rhythm
- Regulate blood pressure and cholesterol production
- Regulate blood glucose levels
- Promotes bone development and growth
- Acts as an electrolyte, maintaining fluid balance in your body
- Controls your stress-response system
How does magnesium for sleep works?
Magnesium can help you sleep better in a number of ways. Let’s break them down.
Help your body relax
If you want to fall asleep and sleep tight, you need to relax your body and mind. Magnesium aids this process on a chemical level by activating the nervous system responsible for getting you calm and relaxed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27933574.
Magnesium regulates neurotransmitters, compounds responsible for sending signals throughout the nervous system and brain.
The mineral also regulates melatonin, a hormone which guides sleep-wake cycles.
Last, but not least, magnesium binds to GABA receptors, the neurotransmitter responsible for quieting down nerve activity. Sleep drugs use the same neurotransmitter.
Regulate sleep quality
Magnesium will help you fall asleep, but also sleep better. Thanks to this mineral, you can easily achieve deep and restful sleep.
A study has shown that adults taking 500mg of magnesium supplements on a daily basis get better quality sleep https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23853635.
According to results, taking magnesium showed higher levels of melatonin and renin, two hormones responsible for regulating sleep.
Another study has shown that adults with insomnia taking supplements of magnesium, zinc, and melatonin have better sleep compared to those taking placebo pills https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21226679.
The explanation in both studies is that magnesium blocks excitable molecules from binding to neurons, resulting in a calmer nervous system.
Magnesium alleviates anxiety and depression
Two conditions that can harm and interrupt your sleep are depression and anxiety. When you are under stress, you are anxious, or anything similar, you have a hard time falling asleep.
Magnesium can alleviate both mood disorders. Some studies have shown that magnesium can enhance conventional antidepressant treatment and even treat anxiety https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27910808.
Scientists did not fully understand how it helps, but they think it is the mineral’s ability to stimulate calming devices of the nervous system.
Are you at risk of sleep disorders?
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to insomnia and sleep disorder in a number of studies https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23853635. However, even if you do get enough magnesium, you still have to consider certain risk groups.
If you fall into any of the following groups, you might need to up your magnesium consumption.
- Patients with digestive diseases, as digestive tract infections cause the body to not absorb vitamins and minerals properly
- Patients with diabetes, as insulin resistance is linked with excess magnesium loss
- People with alcohol dependence
- Older adults have less magnesium in their diets, and may need supplements
How much magnesium do you need?
According to the Institute of Medicine, male adults need between 400 and 420mg of magnesium per day, while females need between 300 and 360mg of magnesium https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4455825/.
As mentioned previously, you can source magnesium from magnesium-rich foods like green vegetables, nuts, cereals, fish, fruits, and meat. But also you can get it by drinking water.
If you want to go the different route and take magnesium supplements, there are few studies showing what is appropriate.
According to most studies, the dosage should be between 225 and 500mg per day https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/. Bear in mind, the upper limit considered safe from supplementation is 350mg per day.
For general health, sleep improvement, and stress, between 100 and 300mg per day is more than enough. Individual dosing can vary.
Possible side effects
While magnesium is well tolerated by healthy adults, there might be some side effects if you consume too much of it, or if you take too much supplements.
Very large doses of magnesium can cause side effects like bloating, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, mental confusion, and changes in your breathing.
Before you take a magnesium supplement, consult with a physician if you are a pregnant woman, a patient with bleeding disorder, patient with heart block, or patient with kidney problems.
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