Are you struggling to fall asleep every night? You are not alone! According to the American Sleep Association (ASA), 50 to 70 million US adults suffer from sleep disorders. These numbers are shocking. However, you can quickly remedy your sleep troubles by including magnesium in your diet.
Taking magnesium before bedtime – ideally with dinner – is the best time to take it to improve sleep.
We’ll divulge everything you need to know about taking magnesium in order to improve the quality of your sleep. But, before we go into more detail, let’s see what magnesium actually is.
What Is Magnesium?
In relation to humans, magnesium is one of the 24 essential minerals that we need in order to maintain physical and mental health.
As a trace mineral, magnesium helps regulate neurotransmitters and melatonin. Apart from assisting the nervous system, magnesium also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy heartbeat and may help combat health hazards such as stroke, heart diseases, and even depression.
The human body doesn’t produce this nutrient naturally, so we need to rely on supplements to obtain the required amount of magnesium to fulfill our daily needs. On average, an adult will have 25 mg of magnesium in their organism, 40-50% of which is in their soft tissues, while 50-60% of the whole amount is stored in the skeletal system.
Why Is Magnesium Important?
Along with all the abovementioned benefits of magnesium, it also helps your muscles relax, providing a calming sensation and helping you sleep. As we mentioned, it helps regulate neurotransmitters that also play a role in having a good night’s sleep.
Sources of Magnesium
There are multiple magnesium-rich foods that you can include in your diet such as:
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, or swiss chard);
- Nuts (cashews, walnuts, and almonds);
- Whole grains;
- Dairy products (yogurt and milk);
- Soy Products (tofu and soy milk).
Research shows that 68% of American adults don’t consume enough magnesium.
The following groups have a more pronounced risk of magnesium deficiency:
- Older adults;
- Have type 2 diabetes;
- Have alcohol use disorder;
- Have gastrointestinal problems.
Having said that, it’s apparent that magnesium deficiency encompasses many different demographics. So, supplemental magnesium becomes a no-brainer when it comes to staying healthy. Here are the most commonly used types of magnesium supplements.
The most common magnesium supplement is magnesium citrate. It helps you unwind your mind and body and assists you in comforting muscle cramps.
Magnesium glycinate is the most absorbing type of magnesium. Its vital ingredient is glycine, which improves sleep quality and promotes natural and healthy sleep patterns.
Magnesium oil is a topical solution used in baths to soothe your muscles and enhance skin health.
Don’t hesitate to ask for the medical advice of a professional before deciding on particular magnesium supplementation.
Proper Dosage of Magnesium for Sleep
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend 310-320mg of Magnesium for women of age 19 and older. Meanwhile, men in the same age group ought to have 400-420mg of Magnesium every day.
However, the correct magnesium levels depend on different factors, like for instance, pregnancy, and if you have heart disease, intestinal disease, or kidney disease. Make sure to always ask a professional whether you’re allowed to take magnesium supplements or not, and in what doses (if you are).
If you’re allowed to take magnesium as a sleeping aid, the pre-sleep doses would be the following:
- Magnesium glycinate 200mg
- Magnesium citrate 200mg
Obviously, the quantities may vary depending on your daily magnesium intake from other sources or additional supplementation. Make sure to refer to the initial quantities recommended by the NIH.
Do note that you’re to avoid magnesium oxide as it’s the least helpful with insomnia and may cause bowel problems given that it’s a stool softener.
Can Magnesium Help You Sleep Better?
If you struggle with muscle tiredness, weakness, anxiety, and/or general sleep issues such as insomnia, you are likely to have low magnesium levels. Multiple studies have shown that improving your magnesium levels can get you better sleep by alleviating the aforementioned issues.
Let’s take a closer look at how magnesium can help you deal with different conditions that may hinder your sleep schedule and quality.
Insomnia is one of the most common sleeping disorders. In layman’s terms, people suffering from insomnia regularly have problems sleeping and don’t get enough rest even when they do get some sleep.
That’s where magnesium supplements come in and can be super helpful for people who have insomnia.
The Sleep Foundation recommends 500mg magnesium daily for at least eight weeks. The benefits include:
- Falling asleep faster;
- Sleeping longer;
- Increased melatonin production;
- Decreased cortisol levels.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Restless leg syndrome is defined as an uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs. The symptoms may occur in the afternoon or evening and can peak at night when resting.
When administered as a supplement to help with RLS, magnesium can help alleviate the effects of this condition. According to a study done by the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in Germany, when 75-85% of patients with restless leg syndrome included magnesium supplements in their routine, they increased their sleep quality to a great extent.
Magnesium intake is also helpful in lessening leg cramps during pregnancy. Moreover, magnesium salts alleviate nighttime leg aches and cramps in people of all ages.
Gamma amino-butyric acid, also known as GABA, has a significant role in your overall sleep quality. In a nutshell, GABA reduces the activity of nerve cells throughout the nervous system and helps your mind transition from a wakeful state to a sleeping state. GABA alleviates physical and mental stress, helps you keep calm, and induces sleep.
Magnesium also allows your body to maintain a healthy level of GABA.
Bad mood and depression can also result in restless sleep and can further lead to insomnia. While magnesium deficiency is known to occur along with depression, the direct correlation hasn’t been discerned.
Magnesium sulfate can be a valuable addition to other pharmacological means when treating depression, but it’s purely homeopathic. As always make sure to consult a medical professional.
The Best Time to Take Magnesium
Magnesium is a multi-purpose supplement. It helps you improve your mood and get a good night’s sleep. But, since we are talking about taking magnesium as a sleeping aid, taking magnesium before bed makes more sense.
Still, there are different opinions on how early you should administer. A general consensus is that magnesium is to be taken in the hours before bedtime, as is the case with melatonin. However, you can also take magnesium supplements during the day as well.
The main issue is that if magnesium coincides with other medications, it can reduce their effectiveness and affect their absorption level. So, ultimately, it depends on whether you’re taking medicine for other conditions.
For optimal absorption, make sure to take magnesium along with food.
Benefits of Taking Magnesium
Some additional benefits of taking Magnesium include:
- Improving bone health.
- Better athletic performance.
- Improved attention span.
Potential Side Effects of Magnesium Intake
Although magnesium is safe to use and easy to absorb, high doses can cause side effects like diarrhea, nausea, cramps, and even irregular heartbeat.
Generally, magnesium is safe to use, but it can interfere with other medications you are using. Taking Magnesium with other medicines can reduce their effectiveness. The medicines you should avoid taking with magnesium include antibiotics (aminoglycoside, tetracycline, quinolone), bisphosphonates, water pills, muscle relaxants, laxatives, and medication for high blood pressure.
Magnesium vs. Melatonin: Which Is Better for Sleep?
Magnesium is a nutrient involved in different body functions, while on the other hand, melatonin is a hormone responsible for regulating better sleep.
While melatonin plays a crucial role in restful sleep and is thus more relevant and effective, it can be used in conjunction with magnesium for greater effect. Magnesium will help relax your muscles, and melatonin will help you fall asleep faster.
The two have no known negative interactions, but make sure to consult a healthcare professional before supplementing with these.
Magnesium is an important nutrient that, among other things, also improves your sleep quality. However, you shouldn’t take it as an alternative to a healthy sleep schedule. Instead, it would be best to try to intake the right amount of magnesium through your diet and sort out your bedtime rather than supplementing. If that’s not possible, magnesium supplements as a sleep aid are definitely worth it.