Move over melatonin, there’s a new nighttime supplement in town! We’ll give you a few hints first to see if you can guess it: it’s the 12th element on the periodic table. No? The 8th most abundant element in the whole universe… nothing? Okay, okay, it’s magnesium, the essential mineral that might help you get a better night’s sleep. For some, magnesium could be the key to rediscovering a relaxing, restful night of full sleep.
magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate biochemical reactions in the body. In short, that means it is required as an aid, specifically in processes like protein synthesis, nerve and muscle function, glucose control, and regulation of blood pressure. It’s important! So, how can magnesium help you sleep?
Magnesium And Sleep
Magnesium is not directly a sleep aid per say, but a handful of its positive effects on the body act in a way that allows you to get into a sleep-ready condition. Anxiety, depression, muscle pains, and more could indicate a notable magnesium deficit. Rest assured, there are several benefits to the mineral’s sleep aid properties and it’s relatively easy to get the additional magnesium you need — managing all of the below is crucial for consistent sleep and a magnesium deficit can easily result in these issues cropping up.
Stress & Anxiety
One of the most prevalent reasons people have a hard time falling and staying asleep is excessive stress and/or anxiety. When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, your subconscious likes to take a front-and-center role, keeping you up and excessively alert, thinking about tomorrow’s deadlines or opportunities. How do you fight it? Magnesium actually plays a part in regulating GABA, a neurotransmitter whose main role is to reduce the activity of neurons in the central nervous system and brain. With an imbalance of its cofactor, you might find yourself with higher stress levels and an inability to wind down in the evenings — crucial for maintaining a consistent sleep routine!
Depression & Mood
Magnesium has been linked to a potential decrease in depression symptoms. As noted by Emily Tarleton and team in their 2017 study, “Magnesium is effective for mild-to-moderate depression in adults. It works quickly and is well tolerated without the need for close monitoring for toxicity… Daily supplementation with 248 mg of elemental magnesium as four 500 mg tablets of magnesium chloride per day leads to a significant decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms regardless of age, gender, baseline severity of depression, or use of antidepressant medications.” It’s a fascinating study, especially if you’re dealing with erratic or unexpected depression symptoms that keep you from getting the sleep you need.
Aches, Pains, & Muscle Cramps
It’s well-established knowledge that magnesium deficiency leads to muscle cramps, twitches, and spasms. In fact, as a supplement it’s often used to treat patients with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) in addition to sleep issues. For those who have muscle cramps that wake you up in the middle of the night or even just that annoying little twitch you sometimes get above your eye? A higher magnesium intake might be the solution to easing those pains.
Why does this work? Magnesium acts as a natural calcium blocker. Within muscles, calcium binds to proteins and tightens the structure of the muscle itself. Magnesium breaks that calcium down, keeping your muscles from contracting too much. It’s like a massage from the inside out!
Where Do You Find Natural Magnesium?
As it is prevalent in omnivorous mammal diets, we tend to get the majority of our magnesium from plants like almonds, figs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate (hey, that sounds like a trail mix!), leafy greens (like spinach), bananas, and beans. Bacteria present in healthy soil allows plants to absorb magnesium, which in turn is absorbed when we eat it. Environmental influences can deplete magnesium’s prevalence in food, however, when pesticides kill the beneficial bacteria that allow for the mineral’s absorption. It’s a delicate balance to keep the planet healthy, huh!
Because of environmental factors are exacerbated by the fact that alcohol lowers your ability to metabolize and absorb magnesium from food, a large majority of folks in the U.S. lack an adequate amount of this essential mineral despite its prevalence in everyday foods. Which begs the question — should you try supplements?
Should You Take Magnesium Supplements?
Sure! Magnesium comes in several forms, but the two most popular are transdermal and ingestible.
Transdermal, as the name suggests, is a topical form of magnesium that transfers through your skin into your bloodstream. Despite very few studies, Uwe Gröber and research team concluded in a 2017 study that “Magnesium might be able to get into the lymphatic system beneath the dermis and enter the circulatory system, bypassing the regulation through the GI tract and hereby increasing serum magnesium,” though they suggest additional studies on transdermal applications be performed. Take it with a grain of salt, but there’s an easier option for you to get magnesium supplements.
Ingestible magnesium is any magnesium supplement that you can, well, ingest. You eat it! Whether that’s a powder mixed in warm water that you drink (quickly and with your nose plugged) or a pill packed with all the milligrams your body can process and then some, magnesium is a relatively inexpensive and easy to administer supplement.
Here are our recommendations:
“So far I am enjoying this product. I have no problems when taking it. My migraine headaches seem to be less frequent and my energy levels have improved.”
“This is my favorite drink before bed. Really relaxes me and I love the taste. I workout all the time and was getting leg cramps quite often until I started taking this supplement. It awesome!!”
“This is good magnesium l-threonate. I take one serving (4 pills - 2,000mg) an hour before bed. I don't remember the last time I slept so well.”
Should You Up Your Magnesium Intake?
The recommended daily allowance of magnesium for adults is 310–420 mg depending on age and gender. If you’re seeking a more relaxed mind and deep, restorative sleep it might be helpful to give supplements a try.
There’s a high likelihood that you’re not getting quite enough natural magnesium in your diet — the standard American diet (or Western Pattern Diet) is rich in processed foods, saturated fats, red meat, and refined grains, which aren’t exactly the leafy greens, legumes, and nuts that our forefathers ate in abundance. Plus, there are better things you can eat before bed than a Taco Bell fourth meal that won’t mess up your circadian rhythm.
Feeling like you could use a lift? Are you stressed, depressed, cramping, or at best, sore and tired? Need to get to bed a little earlier but your mind won’t stop racing? There are lots of things you can do, and taking magnesium supplements to help you sleep is one option that could lead to a more well-rounded essential mineral intake — sleepless nights solved or not.