When thinking about pills to take for sleep, most people think about prescription drugs or over-the-counter meds and fail to realize that sleepiness could be induced more naturally. While medicine might be necessary sometimes, you’re better off trying natural remedies first, one of them could be a higher intake of magnesium.
Magnesium is one of the most common minerals in your body. To remain healthy, you need to get enough minerals, including magnesium. This mineral plays a vital role in many bodily functions: metabolism, bone health, blood sugar regulation, nerve and muscle function, and lots of other things. Also, undoubtedly, you can use magnesium for sleep.
So, let’s take a look at the relationship between magnesium and sleep.
Certified Sleep Science & Nutrition Coach for Adults
How does taking magnesium impact our sleep?
First of all, magnesium is the anti-anxiety mineral. It binds to GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that promotes calmness. This helps for those who have a racing mind at night. To add, magnesium helps with lowering inflammation. Lower inflammation means lower cortisol levels, which prevent melatonin from being released. It also helps improve depression symptoms by raising serotonin levels. Serotonin is used to manufacture melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that helps to make us feel drowsy and sync our internal clocks. And lastly, magnesium is needed to turn Vitamin D into its active form. Vitamin D helps to prevent sleep disorders and increases sleep quality.
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What Is Magnesium and Why Is It Necessary?
Magnesium is a mineral that your body needs to function properly. It helps with tons of bodily functions, but it’s most important for muscles and nerves. It also affects your blood sugar levels, bone strength, heart health, and energy levels.
Adults need around 350-400 milligrams of magnesium a day. If you don’t get enough, your bodily functions may suffer. The first things you’d feel would be general weakness and a drop in energy levels.
Why Do You Need Magnesium for Sleep?
As you’ve learned, magnesium has lots of positive effects on your health, but now you might wonder, “does magnesium help you sleep?”. And yes, it does, read on to see the interaction between magnesium and sleep.
Insomnia is a bothersome thing to deal with. And if you, like many others, experience it, you must be looking for ways how to treat it. But before getting medicine, get your magnesium levels tested. As one of the factors that contribute to insomnia is a low magnesium level.
Magnesium affects sleep a lot. You might be getting restless sleep simply due to a lack of this important mineral. It plays a role in inducing deep restorative sleep by helping to maintain healthy levels of GABA (Gaba-aminobutyric acid), which is responsible for neurotransmitters.
So if you want to fall asleep quickly and don’t want to suffer from insomnia anymore, you’d better take some magnesium for sleep.
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In order to sleep, you need to be relaxed. Insomnia is mainly caused by stress and anxiety when you can’t sleep because of worrying about something. Treating stress is crucial for a good night’s sleep, as it helps you with getting deeper sleep, and also staying and falling asleep.
You might be thinking, does magnesium help you sleep? Yes, it does. Mainly because it's the most active mineral when it comes to the nervous system, which is responsible for falling asleep.
This mineral is vital for maintaining a healthy nervous system as it affects the neurotransmitters, which are responsible for all the bodily reactions and signals to the brain, including sleep and stress levels.
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Eases Muscle Cramps, Aches, and Pains
One more thing needed for sleep is physical comfort. And you definitely don't feel comfortable when you have muscle cramps or pains. All these can prevent you from falling asleep or wake you up at night.
Such sleep disturbance can affect you very negatively. Constant lack of sleep leads to moodiness, mental health issues, and in some cases, even severe health issues. To get proper sleep, you need to be comfortable.
You need magnesium for sleep, and it’s the first thing you should reach out for if you’re experiencing muscle cramps before sleep. If you have persistent muscle pains, aches, or cramps, the chances that you lack this mineral are really high. You can’t sleep with that, so you need to get rid of the pains to get good quality sleep.
One more thing that is responsible for your comfort levels is a mattress. Just like a lack of magnesium, it can influence back pains and lead to a night of poor quality sleep. To get a good one, you need to look into your preferences, sleeping position many more factors. Choosing one isn’t easy, so take a look at our best mattresses overview.
Another health aspect that this mineral affects is digestion. It may not seem directly related, but digestion has a lot to do with sleep. Having functional metabolism leaves you with going to sleep feeling and ready for it. Feeling comfortable and healthy is extremely important for getting deep restorative sleep.
In case you suffer from indigestion, you might not fall asleep that easily. Indigestion is always at least slightly disturbing. Occurring just before bed, it ruins your chances of falling asleep easily, and even if you do, it prevents your body from relaxing completely to get a good night’s sleep.
Magnesium has a lot to do with digestion. Mostly it affects the muscles in the digestive tract. Magnesium makes them relax instead of being contracted this way, easing the digestion process and helping the food move through easier.
So, to fall asleep easily and sleep comfortably, you need to have sufficient amounts of magnesium in your body. Make sure to eat enough food rich in it or take supplements since, as you know now, magnesium and sleep interact.
How a Lack of Magnesium Affects You
We’ve talked about the benefits of it, but it’s also really important to warn you about the possible effects of having depleted levels of magnesium in your body. Not only do you need magnesium for sleep, but also for your overall health.
Over time, low levels of this mineral may dimish your health considerably. It’s linked with various health issues. Some of them include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and migraines. All of these don’t help with trying to sleep.
For example, migraines might completely destroy your chances of getting sleep. Experiencing such pain just before bed might prevent you from falling asleep that night. High blood pressure and diabetes can also be linked to lower quality sleep as your body is preoccupied with managing health issues.
So, does magnesium help you sleep? It does. All this could be prevented by getting enough magnesium.
Types of Magnesium
Now that you’ve learned why magnesium is necessary, you need to learn what types of magnesium there are and which type of it is the best magnesium for sleep.
There are quite a few types of magnesium:
- Magnesium chloride
- Magnesium sulfate
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium oxide
- Magnesium glycinate
- Magnesium orotate
- Magnesium L-threonate
Let’s talk about each of them briefly and find out which one is the best magnesium for sleep.
It’s one of the more popular ones to be taken as a supplement. It’s extracted from brine or ocean water. This one is known to help with the nervous system, relaxation, digestion, and bone health. It also helps with sleep.
It’s most widely known as Epsom salts, and its most profound characteristic is that it helps sore muscles and induces relaxation. Its downside might be that it’s also widely known for its laxative effects.
This type of magnesium is derived from citric acid (hence the name). It’s the most easily absorbed type of magnesium, and that leads to it being the most popular among magnesium supplements.
It’s most famous for supporting digestion and alleviating constipation. Although one of the side effects include dehydration, so be careful with it.
Yet another type of magnesium, its primary function is to take care of muscles and bones. The biggest drawback is that it’s hardly absorbed at all, and thus might cause diarrhea.
This one might be the best one for alleviating stress and cramps. Magnesium glycinate is known for its muscle relaxing properties, and this way, it eases the stress you might feel. What is more, it doesn’t include the common side effect most of the other types of magnesium have - it’s not a laxative.
Magnesium orotate is mostly known for aiding the heart work. It’s also good for stamina and endurance. Furthermore, one more effect it has on muscles is that it helps with the repair process. For all these reasons, it’s highly favorable among athletes and maybe not as much as magnesium for sleep.
Last but not least, a rather unique type of magnesium. It’s mostly known for its effects on your memory, cognitive functions, and nervous system. It’s also easily absorbed. So if you’re struggling with memory loss, this is the best type of magnesium for you.
So Which One Is the Best?
All this may sound incredibly complicated, but it’s important to differentiate them if you want to find out the best magnesium for sleep. If you read carefully, you must have an idea which types of magnesium are best for sleep.
The choice is yours, but if you want to find the best magnesium for sleep, I’d advise you to stick to magnesium sulfate as it induces relaxation which is necessary for sleep. Another option is magnesium L-threonate as it’s easily absorbed and would aid your nervous system and memory.
But my personal favorite for sleep would be Magnesium glycinate. Mostly because it doesn’t include the not so attractive side effect of being a laxative and is also known for being one of the best types for alleviating stress and relaxing muscles. Those two functions are some of the best things you can have for getting a good night of sleep.
How to Get Magnesium Naturally?
Now that I’m done tiring you with scientific vocabulary let’s talk about the natural sources of magnesium. Actually, getting your magnesium naturally is better than taking supplements, as your body absorbs magnesium from food much better than taking supplements.
Now that you know the benefits of getting magnesium the natural way, let’s find out its sources so you can choose your best magnesium for sleep naturally.
Vegetables and Legumes
Some of the best sources of magnesium are vegetables, dark leafy greens, and legumes. Products from the categories you should choose are broccoli, squash, spinach, or kale, which are especially high in magnesium.
From legumes, you should opt for edamame beans or peas. Eating enough of these foods, you’ll be sure to get a sufficient amount of magnesium.
Seeds and Nuts
One more category of food that will provide you with magnesium is seeds and nuts. Those are rich in all kinds of vitamins and minerals, one of them being magnesium. Some of the best options you could choose are cashews, almonds, sesame, and sunflower seeds.
Dairy and Meat
When it comes to non-vegetarian options, diary and meat can be excellent sources of magnesium for you. When it comes to meat, you’re better off choosing poultry like chicken or turkey, as they’re a bit higher in magnesium contents than meats like pork or lamb.
The best dairy choice is either hard cheese or milk.
Isn’t it great when guilty pleasures, at least that’s what chocolate is to me, make it to the list of foods rich in nutrients?. Enjoy your chocolate guilt-free, as you’re getting plenty of magnesium from it. But make sure to opt for dark chocolate as it’s the best one for your health, and it also has the highest magnesium concentration.
If biology wasn’t your favorite subject at school, it might be tricky to understand what magnesium is, how it affects us, and which is the best type of magnesium for sleep. But it’s important to know that we need this mineral for our body’s functionality. One of the functions is that it’s vital for our sleep.
Magnesium helps with muscle relaxation, stress reduction, and digestion, all of these are necessary for a good night’s sleep. Muscle cramps or pains, as well as high-stress levels, could be the reason you’re not falling asleep. And when it comes to digestion, if you’re not metabolizing food properly, your sleep quality could drop considerably. So you should definitely take magnesium for sleep.
Not having enough magnesium may cause various health issues such as migraines or diabetes. Still, most importantly, since magnesium is responsible for muscle work, your heart is affected by a lack of it the most. Long term lack of magnesium could lead to serious health issues in the future.
Understanding which is the best magnesium for sleep might be tricky, but it’s easy to navigate knowing a few basic facts. Consider each of these benefits and drawbacks, consult your doctor, and choose the one that suits you best.
If you’re not keen on taking supplements, it’s even better to get magnesium naturally. Enrich your diet in vegetables, dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts, meat, dairy, or even chocolate and get the benefits of magnesium.
Considering all that you must understand that your body is a complex mechanism, and for it to work properly, you need to nourish it. Magnesium is one of the vital components your body needs for sleep and good health overall. If you’re interested in sleep and health matters, check out this article about the best sleeping position for your health.
Certified Sleep Science & Nutrition Coach for Adults
Contributed By Jason Piper, Certified Sleep Science & Nutrition Coach for Adults
Jason Piper started up his sleep coaching company to fill a gap that he saw. All around people were focusing on exercise and nutrition but ignoring their sleep. Jason firmly believes that sleep is ...Read Full Bio...
Scientific ReferencesContributed by Jason Piper, Certified Sleep Science & Nutrition Coach for Adults
1. Möykkynen T., Uusi-Oukari M., Heikkilä J., et al. 'Magnesium potentiation of the function of native and recombinant GABA(A) receptors'
2. Kass L., Weekes J., Carpenter L. 'Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis'
3. Eustina H., Hilton O., Deeth C. 'Magnesium in milk'
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