How to Use Magnesium To Help You Sleep Better
Magnesium is an important micronutrient that supports a large number of bodily processes, including regulating healthy sleep cycles.
In this article we’ll explore the benefits of the mineral, how it relates to sleep, and what foods you can consume to ensure you’re getting enough. Let’s take a look.
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, with the majority being found in the skeletal system. As highlighted by the guys at ODS, “An adult body contains approximately 25 g magnesium, with 50% to 60% present in the bones and most of the rest in soft tissues.”
As well as supporting the skeletal system and helping to build strong bones, magnesium is also involved in a wide range of biochemical reactions, including:
- Protein synthesis – the process by which the genetic code joins together proteinswithin the cell.
- Glycolysis – a key energy production process, involving the breakdown of glucose by enzymes, releasing energy and pyruvic acid.
- Maintaining optimum blood sugar levels through the release of certain hormones and enzymes.
- Regulating blood pressure.
- Controlling the natural inflammatory process.
- Maintaining nervous system balance.
In addition, magnesium has also been shown to play a key role in regulating healthy sleep patterns, which we’ll look at more closely later in the article.
First though, let’s take a look at how much magnesium your body needs, and where you can find it.
Dietary Magnesium Sources
As outlined by the WHFoods website, the foods with the highest concentrations of magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds – an inexpensive snack that can also be added to breakfast cereals and salads.
- Spinach – a versatile green that can be added to salads, sides and smoothies.
- Chard – another great salad option.
- Soya beans – available as tofu, soya milk, soya sauce, edamame beans or fermented tempeh.
- Quinoa – an acient pseudo grain that works well with most main dishes or as a cereal.
- Black beans – great with Mexican food or in a stir fry dish.
- Cashew nuts – another inexpensive healthy snack option.
The recommended daily allowance for magnesium ranges between 310 to 320 milligrams for adult females (350 to 400 milligrams if pregnant) and between 400 to 420 milligrams for the average male.
However, most of us aren’t getting close to the recommendations. The WHFoods guys point out, that the, “…average American diets frequently fail to contain an adequate supply of magnesium. In fact, adults average only 66% of the Daily Value (DV) for magnesium from their food intake (even though they get another 8% from supplements).”
Symptoms of a deficiency may include (but are not limited to):
- Weight loss
- Poor memory
- Fluctuations in heart rate
- Muscle spasms
As well as including magnesium rich foods into your diet, you may also want to add in a magnesium supplement. If you do choose to supplement with additional magnesium, magnesium threonate and magnesium aspartate are some of the most easily absorbed forms.
How Magnesium Affects Sleep
Now onto the important most part – how exactly does magnesium affect your sleep quality, and what evidence is there to prove it?
As mentioned above, a deficiency of magnesium is associated with muscle spasms, specifically restless leg syndrome.
This is one of the main ways by which magnesium deficiency may disturb sleep – through this restless leg syndrome. As explained by the guys at Progressive Health, “Low magnesium levels lead to poor control of electrical conduction in the neurons present in the muscles. This leads to a prolong opening of the calcium channels and increased muscular activity. Restless leg syndrome is the term used to describe the involuntary movement of limbs caused by magnesium deficiency. In most cases, it gets worse at night and can, therefore, interfere with sleep.”
As demonstrated by the guys at HealthLine, increasing magnesium consumption via whole foods or supplements can help to stave off restless leg syndrome, therefore improving sleep quality.
Magnesium and Stress
Insomnia and issues with sleep quality are sometimes correlated with elevated cortisol levels, other wise known as the ‘stress hormone’. When we’re in that infamous ‘fight or flight’ state, getting a good night sleep is shifted down the priority list.
One study showed that Magnesium may play a role in helping to decrease cortisol levels. The study showed that when a magnesium supplement was taken, the usual rise in cortisol levels seen after intense exercises were mitigated.
Magnesium has also been shown to act as a muscle relaxant, ushering calcium out of the muscles and into the bloodstream so it can be redistributed elsewhere. Having a relaxed body makes it much easier for you to settle down, de-stress and get in some good quality shut eye.
Increased Melatonin Secretion
A 2005 review published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine looked at the interactions between magnesium and the sleep hormone melatonin.
Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland, and as well as regulating the release of other hormones in the body, also helps to maintain the circadian rhythm.
The review study stated that magnesium supplementation enhanced the activity of N-acetyl transferase, and enzyme that is involved in melatonin synthesis.
As well as helping to improve sleep quality on its own, magnesium can also be combined with other substances to increase its efficacy.
A 2011 study showed that when combined with melatonin and zinc; magnesium supplementation improved sleep quality, duration, and alertness in the morning.
A common commercially available sleep supplement is called ZMA, which contains a mixture of Zinc and Magnesium. As well as improving sleep quality, it is thought that the supplement may also help to raise levels of testosterone and improve athletic performance.
Eu Natural’s own Serenity Natural Sleep aid contains a unique blend of Magnesium, Zinc, B-Vitamins, and a number of herbs that have been proven to promote healthy sleep such as valerian root and chamomile extract.
Have you suffered from insomnia or poor quality sleep? Have you benefited from using magnesium?