How Magnesium Helps You Sleep?

Sufferers of insomnia or those who are having trouble falling asleep at night seek out many solutions from simple behavioral lifestyle changes to sleeping pills trying to alleviate this problem. Sleeping pills can be highly addictive so many opt for natural supplements instead.

One of these supplements that’s becoming popular for its sleep promoting qualities is magnesium. Not only does this mineral help you fall asleep, but it also helps you enjoy a deeper, more restful sleep.

What Is Magnesium?

Magnesium is one of the most common minerals and an ingredient in many of our foods. Magnesium is an essential mineral that keeps us healthy. It’s involved in so many of our bodily functions, affecting the health of our heart, brain, muscles and bones and is primarily found in our red blood cells and serum.

Magnesium has been praised for its ability to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve sleep quality. So how does magnesium help you sleep? How does it work its magic on those who suffer from insomnia?

How Magnesium Helps You Sleep?

Your brain needs to feel relaxed and tired in order to sleep. Therefore, to prepare itself for sleep, your brain starts winding things down towards the end of the day. Magnesium helps push this process along by interacting with your nervous system and melatonin levels.

Magnesium and Melatonin

Magnesium regulates both neurotransmitters and melatonin. Neurotransmitters relay messages between your brain and your nervous system, and your melatonin levels control your sleep-wake cycles.

Researchers have found that magnesium and melatonin levels correlate in the body. Those with depleted levels experience poorer sleep, and vice versa. Based on these findings, researchers concluded that magnesium, like melatonin, is tied to your circadian rhythms.

I’m almost positive you have heard of taking melatonin before bed to help with sleep. Magnesium can be another alternative to melatonin as explained below.

Magnesium and the Nervous System

Beyond its connection with melatonin and the sleep-wake cycle, magnesium also helps calm your nervous system by binding to GABA receptors. These neurotransmitters reduce nerve activity, calming your nervous system in preparation for sleep. Increasing your GABA levels promotes relaxation.

Because it has a calming effect on the nervous system, recent studies suggest magnesium may also help treat any underlying depression and anxiety that’s contributing to an individual’s insomnia.

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Sleep Problems and Magnesium Deficiency

There are some people who are prone to magnesium deficiency, including those with alcohol addiction, diabetes, GI diseases, ADHD, and older adults. These people can benefit greatly from taking supplemental magnesium.

Your body is likely to experience insomnia and disturbed sleep if it does not have sufficient magnesium levels. A study found that mice who were kept on a magnesium-deficient diet experienced disturbed sleep with more frequent awakenings.

However, you can have too much magnesium in your body as well. Whether you have too much or too little magnesium, both will contribute to sleep problems, according to a 2001 study. To ensure good quality sleep, it’s important to find the right balance of magnesium.

Not only do optimal magnesium levels help you fall asleep, they also improve the quality of your sleep, according to two separate studies of older adults in 2011 and 2012. Both of the studies concluded that the adults who took the magnesium experienced better quality sleep than those who took a placebo.

What’s the Right Dosage of Magnesium to Take?

The National Institute of Health recommends a daily dietary intake of 400-420 mg of magnesium for adult men and 310-360 mg for adult women. Much of this, however, can be found in water and foods that contain high amounts of magnesium including:

  • Green vegetables
  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Whole grains and unprocessed cereals

Meat, fish, legumes and fruit are also a good source of magnesium, although in a lesser amount than the foods listed above.

How Much Magnesium Per Day Can You Take?

A daily dose of magnesium can help regulate your nervous system, minimizing the stress, irritability, and sleep problems associated with magnesium deficiency.

However, because you get so much magnesium from food, and there aren’t yet a wealth of studies on the effectiveness of magnesium for insomnia, there are no exact dosage guidelines for using it to treat insomnia. The Food and Nutrition Board suggests that supplemental magnesium levels not exceed 350 mg for males and females 9 years and older, 110 for children between 4 to 8, and 65 mg for 1 to 3 year olds.

To use magnesium as a sleep aid, take it about 1 to 2 hours before you’d like to fall asleep.

What Are the Side Effects of Using Magnesium as a Sleep Aid?

You may experience side effects including nausea or diarrhea from taking magnesium, as with many supplements.

To prevent this do not take magnesium on an empty stomach and take it with a full glass of water. Also, you may wish to consult your doctor prior to taking magnesium supplements to ensure it will not interfere with any other medication you are taking.