The importance of magnesium for sleep
Have you tried taking magnesium for sleep? This vital mineral has arguably been underestimated as a natural sleep aid for far too long. We are here to give you clarity on how a magnesium deficiency can be the cause of your sleep problems, and how to use magnesium to improve your sleep.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that is essential in many bodily functions, such as managing stress, preparing for sleep, enzyme reactions, muscle and nerve function, bone health, and supporting your immune system.
Every cell in your body relies on magnesium to be healthy and function as it should. If your cells are healthy, you will be too. A deficiency in any essential nutrient will prevent you from feeling like your best self.
What is the best form of magnesium for sleep?
Not all magnesium supplements are created equal and some are far more effective than others. They come in different forms, which include:
- Magnesium chloride
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium oxide
- Magnesium sulfate (also known as Epsom salt)
- Magnesium glycinate
- Magnesium orotate
Magnesium glycinate and citrate are the most bioavailable forms of this mineral, meaning they are the easiest for your body to break down and absorb. If you are going to take a supplement, we recommend one of these two.
Many people take Epsom salt baths before bed to help them relax and unwind. But more research is needed on just how much of it is absorbed through the skin and if it can help with a deficiency.
Magnesium deficiency and sleep
You may not have known this, but a magnesium deficiency could be the cause of your sleep problems. This mineral plays a role in the parasympathetic nervous system. It regulates melatonin and neurotransmitters like glutamate and GABA, which help the body relax and prepare for sleep.
Poor sleep can be caused by a deficiency in these neurotransmitters.
Even if you are sleeping the recommended 7-9 hours a night, supplementing with magnesium can improve the quality of your sleep.
What foods are rich in magnesium?
Chocolate lovers rejoice! Dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium. Before you consider taking a supplement, you should increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods, including these foods to enjoy before bed include:
- Nuts like almonds, cashews and brazil nuts
- Seeds such as flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and halibut
- Plain yoghurt
- Beef and chicken
Spinach and kale are also sources, but they are also high in oxalates, which makes the magnesium less bioavailable. This means that it is a lot harder for your body to absorb.
Oxalate is a type of organic acid found in plants. Almonds also contain a lot of oxalates, which is something to keep in mind.
A supplement might be best if you have a diet high in oxalates, and if you suspect you might not be getting enough or absorbing enough magnesium from your food. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results quickly. It can take time for your magnesium to reach a healthy level.
What are the side effects of too much magnesium?
Taking too much magnesium can have a diuretic effect and cause nausea and digestive distress, which can lead to diarrhoea. It is also important to note that magnesium supplements can interfere with certain medications like antibiotics and blood pressure medications. Speak to your doctor before supplementing with magnesium.
How much magnesium should I take for sleep?
It is recommended that you take between 200mg and 420mg around two hours before going to bed. Be careful not to exceed the dose to avoid any of the potential side effects of too much magnesium.
How to improve your sleep
You can invest in blue light blocking glasses and make your room dark. You can set a regular bedtime to improve your sleep. You can do all the ‘right’ things to sleep better, but if you are deficient in this vital mineral, your sleep quality will not be optimal.
A diet filled with magnesium and melatonin-rich foods can help you optimise your sleep and your life.