Can't sleep? Try magnesium

Sleep is important to our health. This is a point that I don’t think many would argue. Sleep allows our minds and bodies to recharge. Sleep improves our physical and mental well-being, and allows us to function at our best. 

And yet, despite knowing this, many of us do not get enough of it.  

Our lives are becoming busier, and even when we do lie down to try to sleep, stress often gets in the way. Insomnia is on the rise, and it is wreaking havoc with our health. Many of us turn to sleeping pills in an attempt to resolve this issue.

But did you know that one of the most effective sleep ”cures” is one of the most common minerals on earth? Magnesium. 

Magnesium is essential for health and is used in over 600 cellular reactions throughout your body.

In fact, every cell and organ needs this mineral to function properly. It contributes to bone health, as well as proper brain, heart and muscle function. Magnesium has been linked to a number of health benefits, including reducing inflammation, relieving constipation and lowering blood pressure.

Magnesium has also been shown to help fight insomnia – especially when insomnia is caused by stress. 

Studies show that magnesium helps activate neurotransmitters that are responsible for calming the body and the mind...not only helping us to fall asleep, but allowing us to enjoy a deeper, and more restful sleep. 

Certain groups of people have a higher risk of magnesium deficiency, including:

  • People with digestive disorders: Issues with your digestive tract can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals properly, resulting in deficiencies.
  • People with diabetes: Insulin resistance and diabetes are linked to excess magnesium loss.
  • People under constant stress: Magnesium is used up quickly in stressful situations, magnesium helps to maintain energy flow, and a lack of magnesium can result in symptoms like fatigue and depression.
  • Older adults:  As we age, our bodies can become less efficient at absorbing nutrients.
  • If you're not getting enough magnesium, then you may experience sleep problems.  

So, knowing the importance of this mineral, what can you do to increase your magnesium levels?

First, be aware of habits that are known to cause magnesium deficiencies: Limit coffee, colas, salt, sugar, and alcohol (all of which rob valuable magnesium from your body). Practice stress management techniques. Check with your doctor if your medication is causing magnesium loss – certain medications have been shown to interfere with magnesium absorption). 

And, eat foods high in magnesium. Good dietary sources of magnesium include (mg per 100g):

Foods high in magnesium and potassium.jpg

•    Kelp (760)
•    Pumpkin seeds (532)
•    Wheat bran (490)
•    Wheat germ (336)
•    Almonds (270)
•    Cashews (267)
•    Brazil nuts (225)

Other good sources are dark leafy greens, such as spinach (157 mg per cup) and cold water fish (salmon, halibut and mackerel). 

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of magnesium for adults is around 400 mg/day for men and 310 mg/day for women, but this could be on the conservative side, especially for people under stress. Taking a daily supplement can help to ensure optimal magnesium levels. But not all supplements are created equally. The best forms to use are magnesium citrate, chelate, or glycinate. Avoid magnesium oxide, which can be irritating to the digestive tract.

Another form of magnesium is Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate). Enjoying a bath in Epsom salt is not only relaxing, but soaking in an Epsom salt bath can reduce inflammation, relieve strains and sprains, and even improve your mood, as magnesium is able to be absorbed through the skin.

Magnesium is a very safe mineral, even taken as a supplement. However, it can interfere with some medications. Always take magnesium at least one hour before or after any medications that you are taking. Magnesium works best when taken with calcium, potassium and vitamin D. These nutrients work together for the greatest health benefits, and a deficiency in one or more can affect the benefits provided by the others.


Having difficulties sleeping? Working with a holistic nutrition coach can me for a free introductory nutritional consultation