Sleep: A wellness trend that is receiving a lot of attention these days. Why? Not only is sleep imperative for optimal health, but it is free and accessible to everyone. Getting adequate, restorative sleep has been known to help the body and brain clear waste and re-energize cells. Deep, recuperative sleep also helps the brain to consolidate memories.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of Americans are not getting an adequate amount of sleep each night, which can lead to a variety of health issues. Some side effects of sleep deprivation or inadequate sleep can include:
- Reduction of insulin sensitivity (issues with managing blood sugar)
- Cognitive performance deficits
- Weakened immune functioning
- Decreased reaction time and accuracy
What Should Be Happening Inside of Your Body at Night?
As the daytime hours fade away and evening approaches, your body should begin making more melatonin, a natural hormone that helps promote rest and rejuvenation. However, if cortisol levels are high at night (which can be due to a myriad of reasons, including stress, caffeine intake, or overstimulation), your body is not able to make and secrete adequate amounts of the melatonin hormone.
So, Where Does Magnesium Come In?
Magnesium is an important, abundant mineral in the body that supports the production of the “sleep hormone,” melatonin. If someone is deficient in magnesium, their body may have difficulty creating adequate amounts of melatonin needed for restful sleep.
Additionally, an adequate amount of magnesium in the human body is important for the normal functioning of the Central Nervous System. This system controls everything from our thoughts to our movements, emotions, and even our breathing. Magnesium is specifically known to aid this process by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for getting you calm and relaxed.
What Studies Show About the Sleep-Magnesium Link
One study linked below indicated that a moderate magnesium deficiency (similar to which commonly occurs in humans) could enhance inflammatory or oxidative stress in the body. Elevated levels of oxidative stress can lead to sleep disruption. Additionally, when these levels are high, it is difficult for the body to restore itself at the cellular level.
Another study showed that based on food diaries, 58% of the participants who consumed less than the U.S. Estimated Average Requirement for magnesium (this varies based on age and gender), had higher levels of C-reactive protein in the blood. Higher levels of C-reactive protein indicate that there is stress or inflammation somewhere in the body.
Conversely, a high magnesium, low aluminum diet was found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. This was proven in a study conducted by James Penland at the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota.
How Can I Ensure That My Body Has Enough Magnesium?
It is always important to begin by looking at your diet. Consuming foods rich in magnesium like leafy greens, nuts, beans, seeds and whole grains can help your body get the magnesium it needs. Additionally, consumption of excessive amounts of fat, calcium, phosphates, fiber, coffee, and strong tea has been shown to reduce the absorption of magnesium ions in the human body.
If you are getting enough magnesium in your diet but your sleep is still interrupted, you may need to look at other factors that could be impacting your sleep negatively. Limiting caffeine and blue light before bed and avoiding heavy, rich foods are both good places to start.
Sometimes MTHFR variances make it hard for your body to use the magnesium you are putting into it (due to impaired methylation pathways), and supplementation may be necessary. Taking a highly bioavailable version of magnesium, like this one, may prove to be a useful instrument in managing disordered sleep. Always speak with your doctor to ensure you are doing the right thing for your body.