For the past year or so, it has been somewhat of a goal of mine to sleep about 7 hours every night. So far, I have done a pretty decent job of keeping up with it, with the occasional long night from binge-watching Netflix. After years of listening and learning, I fully understand that sleep is essential for the functioning of my body and health. It influences our ability to recover, to remember things, and to regulate our feelings, among others.
That is why I highly suggest that people figure out what works best for their particular lifestyles and try to maintain a regular sleep pattern. When we sleep less than 6 hours or so, we are more likely to experience negative health outcomes like anxiety or fatigue (1).
So, it is important that people promote behavior that positively affects their sleep.
There are plenty of recommendations and tips on the Internet on how you can get the most out of your sleep. Some of the most common ones I have heard are to take melatonin pills – melatonin is known to regulate the sleep cycle – or to refrain from drinking alcohol or caffeine before sleep. Each of these tactics produce different effects but they have been shown to be effective in helping people sleep better.
Another method that may improve your sleep is to make sure you have enough magnesium in your body. If you don’t maintain a normal level, this can interfere with how your body winds down in preparation for sleep and disrupt your sleep cycle overall (2). Lack of sleep can lead to stress and other negative effects such as fatigue. Therefore, to avoid these unwanted effects, it would be wise to get a proper 7-9 hours of rest (1).
As we mentioned in one of our previous blogs on magnesium, about 70 percent of American adults are deficient in the mineral.
Magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing for our bodies to relax; it basically acts as a natural muscle relaxer. In addition, the mineral gives a helping hand in regulating the body’s level of melatonin (3). Overall, magnesium helps prepare your body to get to sleep.
Various studies have been conducted in order to better understand the relationship between magnesium and sleep. Not enough has been done to conclusively establish the connection, but there have been promising results.
In a 2012 study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, Abbasi et al tried to observe if supplementing people’s diet with magnesium would help them deal with their insomnia. They created a double-blind randomized clinical trial in which 46 elderly participants, half of whom were men and the other were women, were given magnesium oxide tablets twice a day for 8 weeks.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that dietary magnesium supplementation increased sleep time, sleep efficiency, and the amount of melatonin in the body (4). Perhaps these findings could be used to further understand sleep disorders and insomnia.
However, I stress that magnesium is not meant to be a sleeping aid. It is a mineral that can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer, but that is not its only intended function.
Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical processes in the body. It can affect your blood pressure and even help boost your mood. But, this depends on the chemistry and makeup of your body. For example, magnesium does not make it easier for migraineurs to sleep but it does help people who do not have migraine brain (5).
No matter what your makeup, it is still important to maintain good levels of magnesium in your body. You can incorporate more of the mineral into your diet through foods such as green leafy vegetables, fruit, and fish. It isn’t always possible to take in as much magnesium as the body needs, so supplementation is a useful way to increase your intake.
Talk to your doctor before deciding to add magnesium to your daily healthcare routine.
1. Mukherjee, S., Patel, S. R., Kales, S. N., Ayas, N. T., Strohl, K. P., Gozal, D., & Malhotra, A. (2015). An official american thoracic society statement: The importance of healthy sleep. Recommendations and future priorities. American Journal of Respiratory and Clinical Care Medicine, 191(12). https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201504-0767ST
2. How taking magnesium supplements can help poor sleep. (2019). Retrieved from https://betteryou.com/health-hub/taking-magnesium-supplements-can-help-poor-sleep/
3. Jennings, K. (2017). How magnesium can help you sleep. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-and-sleep#section5
4. Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Retrieved from http://www.drperlmutter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/magnesium-sleep-1.pdf
5. Stanton, A. A. (2017). Fighting the migraine epidemic: A complete guide: How to treat and prevent migraines without medicines. North Charleston, SC: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform.