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The benefits of magnesium for getting a good night’s sleep

The Benefits of Magnesium for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Aside from improving your sleep hygiene and addressing any underlying medical disorders that may inhibit rest, taking supplements could also help you achieve a good night’s sleep.

Magnesium is often recommended as a natural aid for sleep, with research suggesting it plays an important role in sleep regulation1.

Here, we take a closer look at the relationship between magnesium and sleep.


What does magnesium do in the body?

Magnesium is involved in over 300 cellular reactions in the body and supports many areas of physical and emotional health2.

This mineral contributes to:

  • A reduction of tiredness and fatigue

  • Electrolyte balance

  • Normal energy-yielding metabolism

  • The normal functioning of the nervous system

  • Normal muscle function

  • Normal protein synthesis

  • Normal psychological function

  • The maintenance of normal bones and teeth


Does magnesium help you sleep?

Current findings report an overwhelmingly positive correlation between magnesium and sleep3.According to a 2012 study, magnesium supplementation significantly reduced insomnia amongst elderly adults4. The administration of nightly magnesium also improved the quality of long-term care home residents with primary insomnia5.


GABA and magnesium

Magnesium helps sleep via the regulation of neurotransmitters — chemical messengers that send signals throughout the brain and nervous system. Research suggests it binds to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric (GABA), which slows down nerve activity that may otherwise disrupt sleep6. By soothing the nervous system, magnesium helps you relax, unwind, and, ultimately, fall asleep.


Magnesium and anxiety

A study published in 2016 found that supplementing with magnesium helps sleep by reducing stress and anxiety, which often lead to insomnia7. Researchers reported that increasing participants’ daily magnesium intake helped regulate their sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for your ‘rest and digest’ response, slowing down your heart rate and relaxing your body. The sympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is responsible for your ‘fight-or-flight’ response, which puts your body in a state of acute stress.

This study found that using magnesium supplements helped pendulate these two systems and bring them into balance, which helped decrease sleep disorders


Magnesium and melatonin

There’s some evidence that magnesium is involved in melatonin production, which governs the body’s sleep-wake cycles8. Triggered by darkness, melatonin spikes in the evening and encourages restful, high-quality sleep.


Does magnesium help with sleep quality?

Besides helping you fall asleep, magnesium also contributes to greater sleep quality. Several studies have confirmed the mineral acts on the nervous system and promotes deeper, more restorative sleep.

In one study, 46 older participants were given either 500mg of magnesium or a placebo each night for eight weeks.9 Although the magnesium group didn’t report increased overall sleep time, the study found they spent more time in deep sleep. Subjects also reported a reduction in insomnia symptoms and sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep). Overall, the study found that magnesium significantly improved sleep quality.

Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to poor sleep and insomnia10. In a clinical trial, researchers examined individuals aged between 51 and 85 experiencing sleep troubles. They found a correlation between magnesium levels and sleep quality: lower levels meant worse sleep quality, while higher magnesium levels meant better sleep quality.


What are the best ways to integrate magnesium into your diet?

Though we can get enough magnesium from food, few people do. In fact, most Western diets fail to meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium.

Fortunately, you can correct a magnesium deficiency with a high-quality supplement. To support sleep, we suggest 300-375 mg of magnesium each day, such as Nature’s Best Magnesium 375mg.

Aside from supplementation, it can also help to eat more foods rich in magnesium, such as:

  • Dark, leafy green vegetables, like kale, spinach, and watercress

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Legumes, such as kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas

  • Whole grains – oats, brown rice, and quinoa

  • Seafood, like mackerel, tuna, and salmon

  • Dark chocolate

  • Tofu


Is it better to take magnesium at night?

We generally recommend taking magnesium 1-2 hours before bed to support sleep. But may wish to experiment with timings. Everyone will metabolise magnesium slightly differently.


How long does it take for magnesium to work for sleep?

The benefits of magnesium are often associated with long-term use, so it’s important to take your supplement consistently. We recommend daily use for at least three months to see the full effects on sleep.

Although magnesium helps sleep, it’s no substitute for making healthy lifestyle choices and following a proper sleep routine. To discover more ways to improve your sleep hygiene, browse the rest of our dedicated Sleep Health Hub.



References:

  1. de Baaij. J., Hoenderop. J. & Bindels. R., et al. (2015). Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews. 95(1), 1-46; Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. (2012) The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci,17 (12):1161-9. 
  2. de Baaij. J., et al. (2015). Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews. 95(1), 1-46.
  3. Held K, Antonijevic IA, Künzel H, Uhr M, Wetter TC, Golly IC, Steiger A, Murck H. (2002) Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. 35(4): 135-43. 
  4. Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. (2012) The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 17(12): 1161-9.
  5. Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, Monteferrario F, Antoniello N, Manni R, Klersy C. (2011) The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Jan;59(1):82-90.
  6. Kass. L., Weekes. J. & Carpenter. L. (2012). Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysise. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 66(4), 411-418. Reffelmann. T., Ittermann. T., et al. (2011). Low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. Atherosclerosistion. 219(1), 280-284. Ponamgi. S.& Deshmukh. A. (2016). Long-term Benefits of Risk Factor Reduction in Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. —A Comment on Khalighi et al. Entitled “Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy: A Long Term Follow-up Shows Benefit with Risk Factor Reduction” Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease. 3(1), .3.
  7. Wienecke. E. & Nolden. C. (2016). Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake. MMW Fortschr Med. 158(Suppl 6), 12-16.
  8. Uygun. D., Ye. X., et al. (2016). Bottom-Up versus Top-Down Induction of Sleep by Zolpidem Acting on Histaminergic and Neocortex Neurons. The Journal of Neuroscience. 36(44), 11171-11184.
  9. Wienecke. E. & Nolden. C. (2016). Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake. MMW Fortschr Med. 158(Suppl 6), 12-16.
  10. Durlach. J., Pagès. N., et al. (2019). Biorhythms and possible central regulation of magnesium status, phototherapy, darkness therapy and chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion. Magnes Res. 15(1-2), 49-66.
   

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Our Author - Olivia Salter

Olivia

Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.

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