Quality sleep is essential for optimal health and good quality of life. For your body, getting enough sleep is equally important as getting enough food and water. However, for many people, the lack of sleep is a big problem. That's why magnesium supplements for sleep and other sleeping aids are becoming increasingly popular as of late.

Sleeping is a basic need. If you do not fulfill it, it will not be long before you start to feel the consequences. Everything that you do while you are awake depends on the quality of your sleep. People who do not get enough sleep have trouble maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. They may have memory issues and are not efficient at work. Also, they are more likely to get injured.

Chronic health problems, such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, diabetes, and depression, are also associated with sleep deprivation. That's why lack of sleep is a public health concern, and up to 19 percent of people in the US report they do not get enough sleep.

Luckily, there are many things you can do to help yourself get more sleep. One of those is keeping your magnesium levels in check. You can do this by improving your diet or taking some form of magnesium for sleep to help yourself.

In this article, you can read why magnesium benefits sleep, where you can get it, and how it will affect your general health. But, let's begin by explaining what magnesium is.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element on Earth and the ninth most common in the universe. It is also one of the twenty-four essential minerals/vitamins with a valuable role in human health.

Magnesium is indispensable for all types of cells. It also plays a vital part in metabolism. Optimal levels of this mineral help to prevent:

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Migraines
  • Anxiety

Magnesium supplements are used in the medical field to treat magnesium deficiency, eclampsia, muscle spasms, pre-diabetes, sleep deprivation, and acute hypomagnesemia.

Many people take supplements of magnesium to help sleep or to lower stress levels and stabilize mood.

As a macro-nutrient, magnesium is needed by your body in large quantities. All of it has to come from outside sources. Therefore, a well-balanced diet and supplementation are essential. However, very high doses of magnesium can cause severe side effects. We will explain more about this later in the article.

Health Effects of Magnesium

We've already mentioned that magnesium is essential for all cells. That is significant. But, more importantly, magnesium is required in over three hundred enzyme-related reactions that take place inside the cells. It also has a role in:

  • Energy production
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Cholesterol production
  • Transportation of potassium and calcium
  • Regulation of blood sugar levels
  • Bone development
  • Fluid balance
  • Stress regulation

Magnesium promotes heart health - Your heart is a muscle, and magnesium regulates muscle function in your body. It maintains a healthy heart rhythm and helps your heart by regulating blood pressure and cholesterol production.

Magnesium also has a role in the treatment of some cardiovascular conditions, such as:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Angina
  • Arrhythmia
  • Mitral valve prolapse

Bone health: Magnesium plays a part in bone formation, maintains bone density, and prevents osteoporosis by improving the regulation of calcium and vitamin D.

Mood stabilization and stress reduction: Magnesium increases gamma-aminobutyric acid levels (GABA) in the central nervous system. Higher levels of this neurotransmitter reduce neuronal excitability. In simple words, they help you to relax, reduce anxiety, and sleep better.

Blood sugar regulation: Diabetics and pre-diabetics with a magnesium deficiency can improve their insulin resistance with magnesium supplements.

Pain relief: magnesium can help relieve pain caused by different health conditions. Headaches, fibromyalgia, and lower back pain are among these.

Athletic performance: magnesium increases the number of red blood cells, improves exercise intolerance, and reduces the stress response.

Why does magnesium help sleep?

Is magnesium adequate for sleep? Absolutely! Is it an instant solution to years of low sleep quality? Absolutely no!

Magnesium is much more than that. It is an essential nutrient with a comprehensive effect on your health. It will improve your sleep, mood, energy levels, and quality of life.

Magnesium deficiency is often accompanied by insomnia, restlessness, and frequent waking during the night. That makes sense if we consider that magnesium reduces stress, stabilizes mood, and increases GABA levels.

With regular daily intake, magnesium supplements for sleep restore the balance of magnesium in your body. When these levels are optimal, they promote a higher-quality and deeper sleep.

GABA plays a part in sleep quality. At night, it slows down the communication between the central nervous system and the brain, helping you to relax, power-down, and fall asleep. That results in a night of healthy restorative sleep.

Magnesium supplements can help your body to synchronize and regulate the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. That means the body will prepare better for sleeping by slowing down the heart rate and lowering the general state of arousal.

Restless legs syndrome can also improve with increased magnesium intake. The nervous system disorder affects up to one in ten people, and it is among the leading causes of insomnia. Some studies show that magnesium could be the natural solution for restless legs syndrome.

Magnesium supplements exist in different forms, such as magnesium citrate, magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, magnesium oxide, etc. A common question is: Which form of magnesium is best for sleep?

The best answer is that all forms of magnesium are beneficial for health in optimal doses. However, not all of them are equally soluble and bioavailable. Magnesium glycinate is one of the more absorbable forms. It could be a better option than magnesium oxide for sleep.

How magnesium affects your brain?

Magnesium is involved in many processes within the nervous system, and the brain is no exception. Scientists are researching magnesium's potential to prevent and treat different neurological disorders, including epilepsy, migraines, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's disease.

Magnesium's protective role against extreme excitation, a process that causes neuronal cell death, is well established. However, more research is necessary to understand the full benefits of this macro-mineral for brain health.

Who should take magnesium supplements?

A well-balanced diet rich in leafy greens, nuts, and beans should provide enough magnesium to healthy individuals. However, supplements can still be useful if the recommended daily doses are respected.

Furthermore, modern lifestyle and diet are often associated with junk food and empty calories. These facts make supplementation even more important.

Long-term magnesium deficiency can seriously endanger health. So, people who are aware they're not taking in enough of this mineral are the first to benefit from magnesium supplements.

Also, people most likely to experience magnesium deficiency are those with:

  • Parathyroid problems
  • Diabetes
  • Crohn's disease
  • Kidney disease

Magnesium supplements help to lower inflammation markers associated with chronic conditions. You can benefit from magnesium supplements if you are suffering from:

  • High blood pressure
  • Pre-eclampsia or eclampsia
  • Pre-diabetes or diabetes
  • Severe asthma
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insomnia
  • Restless legs syndrome

Magnesium Levels and Sleep Quality

Going to bed and falling asleep are two different things. Many people struggle with their sleep quality even though they have enough time for sleeping. Having trouble falling asleep, waking up during the night, and waking up too early during the morning are just some of the common issues people have with their sleep quality.

Insomnia is often a consequence of magnesium deficiency. Women are affected more because they are prone to low magnesium levels. The situation is similar in older people. In 2012, an Iranian study found that almost 50% of the elderly suffer from insomnia.

During the study, the participants took magnesium supplements. That resulted in longer sleep time and better sleep efficiency. In the study, people had fewer early morning wakings, and they spent a larger portion of their bedtime sleeping.

Researchers believe that magnesium's effects on GABA levels, stress, anxiety, and sleeping disorders such as restless legs syndrome can improve sleep performance.

Regarding magnesium levels and sleep quality, one question many people ask is: How much magnesium for sleep should I take? But, magnesium supplements do not work like sleeping pills. They will not knock you down in an artificial way. Hence, there is no such thing as magnesium for sleep dose.

Regular maintenance of healthy magnesium levels through diet and supplementation will permanently improve the quality of your sleep. It'll help your body get in-sync with your natural circadian rhythm.

Magnesium Deficiency

Low levels of magnesium in the body cause magnesium deficiency and electrolyte disturbance with an array of symptoms.

Magnesium deficiency often goes hand-in-hand with low potassium levels. It can result in:

  • General weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Arrhythmia
  • Tremors
  • Palpitations
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Coma

Additionally, hypoparathyroidism can also lead to low calcium levels.

In extreme cases, long-term magnesium deficiency may even lead to death. Patients in ICU with severe magnesium deficiency are more likely to require mechanical ventilation. Low magnesium levels also worsen insulin resistance and contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Magnesium deficiency is not easy to diagnose directly. So, if you have any of the common symptoms: muscle spasms, loss of appetite, tremors, fatigue, and poor coordination, you should go and check your blood magnesium levels.

The treatment usually includes oral magnesium supplements for people with mild to moderate deficiency. In severe cases, intravenous magnesium replacement can be necessary.

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency

Common causes for low levels of magnesium in the blood fall into three main groups:

  1. Gastrointestinal causes
  2. Kidney causes
  3. Dietary causes

Low magnesium levels can be a consequence of the reduced gastrointestinal absorption or a gastrointestinal loss when magnesium passes through the gastrointestinal tract too fast.

Both scenarios are possible when there is a problem with the gastrointestinal health caused by infections, parasites, or chronic conditions such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease.

Modern western diet, rich in refined sugar and processed foods and alcoholism, can cause magnesium levels to drop. Almost 60% of Americans have a lower than recommended dietary intake of magnesium.

Less commonly, magnesium deficiency can be caused by:

  • Some medications. -  Usually, loop diuretics, antibiotics, and proton-pump inhibitors.
  • Genetic factors
  • Metabolic abnormalities
  • Certain health conditions. - Such as malabsorption, acute pancreatitis, or acute myocardial infarction.

Can too much magnesium make you sick?

In healthy people, all excess magnesium from food gets excreted by the kidneys. However, with supplements, it is easy to lose control and take more magnesium than you need.

When this is long-term, it can cause frequent diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. With extreme doses, side effects can also become more extreme.

High doses of magnesium (more than 5000mg daily) can cause magnesium toxicity and hypermagnesemia, a potentially fatal magnesium overdose.

Symptoms of magnesium toxicity include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Facial flushing
  • Urine retention
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Cardiac arrest

Best Magnesium Supplements – 2021

Not all magnesium supplements are the same. A common difference is in the type and amount of magnesium, its bioavailability, and absorption. Here is a list of the top 5 magnesium supplements for sleep in 2021:

1. "Nature Made" -  Magnesium Citrate

The product contains 250 mg of easy-to-absorb magnesium citrate per serving. If you are looking to improve your sleep, this is a sufficient and safe amount to take (one or two times a day) combined with a well-balanced diet.

2. Klean Athlete's Klean Magnesium

With 120 mg of magnesium glycinate, this is a perfect supplement for people with a sensitive digestive tract. Magnesium glycinate is the most absorbable type of magnesium. Also, the quantity per serving will allow you to spread the daily dose over three servings.

3. Jigsaw Health's MagSRT

SRT stands for sustained-release technology. It is a unique feature that allows this otherwise large dose of 500 mg to spread out evenly over eight hours. That relieves the digestive system's pressure and makes one serving a day more than enough for anyone looking for better sleep.

4. New Chapter's Magnesium + Ashwagandha

It's a vegetarian and gluten-free product that contains 25 mg of a sleep-inducing herb, Ashwagandha. Together with 325 mg of magnesium bis-glycinate, this makes for a promising sleep supplement.

5. NOW Food's Magnesium

It's an affordable mix of three different types of magnesium, with 400 mg per serving. These are the characteristics that make NOW Food's Magnesium one of the best options on the market.

Natural Sources of Magnesium

A diverse diet rich in leafy greens and fish is the best natural source of magnesium. Here is a full list of the best magnesium-rich foods:

How to use magnesium supplements?

If you are taking magnesium supplements, your concern should be to ensure their proper absorption. To achieve that, you need to know how to use them. Magnesium supplements come in different forms, such as:

  • Tablets
  • Sprays
  • Lotions
  • Gels
  • Bath flakes

All of these have a proper method of application. Here are some tips:

Tablets are the most common form of magnesium supplements. They are taken orally and can act as laxatives if taken on an empty stomach. That is why you should always take magnesium tablets with meals. You can also divide the recommended daily dose into two, one in the morning and the other in the evening, to ease the stress on your digestive system.

Sprays and lotions are absorbed directly and quickly by the skin. Just make sure to rub them in well and avoid the skin's sensitive areas, such as around the eyes.

Magnesium gels apply in the same way as sprays and lotions.

Add magnesium bath flakes into the bathwater following the instructions on the product, and make sure to spend at least twenty minutes in the magnesium-enriched bath.

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies provides a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium for healthy individuals in the US. The RDA includes magnesium from all sources, food, and supplements, to ensure an adequate intake of this essential mineral.

Other Effects of Magnesium on Health

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often have lower magnesium levels than general population children. Researchers believe that magnesium supplements could improve the symptoms of ADHD and the affected children's cognitive functioning.

Magnesium's stabilizing effect on mood swings, anxiety, irritation, tension, and bloating could also help relieve Premenstrual Syndrome symptoms (PMS).

The Bottom Line

Magnesium is a macro-nutrient present in many foods, supplements, and medications. In many ways, it is essential for your health and the proper functioning of your body.

Many people use magnesium before bed or at other times during the day to help sleep-related disturbances. But, other aspects of health benefit from this too.

However, more magnesium does not always equal better health. Ensure that you are getting enough of this mineral to maintain the body's optimal levels. That is the only way to reap its full benefits and enjoy a better quality of sleep and life.

References:

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  • Möykkynen T, Uusi-Oukari M, Heikkilä J, Lovinger DM, Lüddens H, Korpi ER. Magnesium potentiation of the function of native and recombinant GABA(A) receptors. Neuroreport. 2001 Jul 20;12(10):2175-9. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200107200-00026. PMID: 11447329.
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