This is how magnesium can improve your sleep

We'll explore the role magnesium plays in getting restful sleep.
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Sarah Stivens
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Last updated on
July 7, 2023
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Does Magnesium Help With Sleep? | Kin Fertility
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If you've found yourself scrolling Tiktok until the birds start singing in the morning... it might be time to think about your sleep quality.

According to recent data, 4 out of 10 Australians are experiencing poor sleep [1]. We're not mathematicians, but that doesn't sound good.

So what can we do about it? Firstly, sleep health is really individual — there's no one-size-fits-all solution. But whatever is disrupting your sleep quality, there are treatment options available. One of these is checking in on your magnesium intake!

Throughout this article, we'll explore the role magnesium plays in getting restful sleep. Read on, and you'll be snooze-ready in no time.

What is magnesium?

All bodies need certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to function properly [2]. Vitamin C is often the one that gets the most airtime (who doesn't love a cold glass of OJ), but there are just as many others the body needs that we probably forget about.

Enter, magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that has heaps of benefits for our overall health, including:

  • Maintains bone health
  • Helps turn food into energy (by helping to convert glucose in our system, and regulating blood sugar levels)
  • Maintains a healthy immune system
  • Helps with lowering blood pressure
  • Improves depression symptoms and assists with other mood disorders
  • Aids in healthy lung function [3]

It's not playing around. But aside from magnesium working hard in the body to keep everything functioning properly, how on earth is it linked to sleep?

Does magnesium help with sleep?

There's no 2 ways about it: modern life is tiring, and it can get in the way of decent sleep sometimes. Screen time, stress levels, and caffeine... our sleep habits aren't always the greatest.

Sure, there are sleep medications available (and some people genuinely need these) — but they can also be habit-forming and have other risks and side effects [4].

This might be why there's been a bunch of studies on how different dietary supplements can support better sleep. The standout performer of them all? You got it, magnesium.

Magnesium has been used as a sleep aid for a really long time — centuries, even! [5]. It's easier to fall asleep if our muscles are relaxed. Studies suggest that magnesium supplements can really help with this because they can prevent muscle spasms and contractions [5].

Having enough magnesium doesn't just relax the body, but the mind as well [6]. Magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system — responsible for your 'rest and digest' functions [7].

So having the right magnesium intake is the opposite of being in "fight or flight" mode. It slows everything down and helps reduce stress and muscle tension — making it easier to fall asleep (and stay snoozing for longer) [8]. Your sleep cycles become more regulated, too.

Its sleep-inducing benefits have been explored in a lot of research studies, where participants reported falling asleep quicker, and having better sleep quality overall [5].

What are the other benefits of magnesium?

Magnesium isn't just a one-hit wonder — earlier we briefly mentioned how it's an essential mineral that the body needs.

Besides sleep, magnesium is involved in over 600 biochemical processes in the body [9]. We definitely won't make you read them all, but here are some of the core things magnesium also helps with:

Digestion and gut health

According to research, magnesium deficiency can really damage your gut health. Now that scientists know more about the microbiome and good bacteria we need to have a healthy gut, they can study what impacts our gut health.

Recent studies have found that low dietary intake of magnesium can alter your gut microbiome and lead to poorer gut health [10]. Magnesium also plays a role in regulating your bowels — some forms, such as magnesium citrate, can even be used as a laxative or to treat constipation [11].

Stress and anxiety

Because of the work it does with your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, magnesium deficiency can have a significant impact on stress and/or anxiety levels [8].

Magnesium levels are highly associated with the body's stress response — scientists have figured out that when we're in acute stress, there's more magnesium present in our blood and urine. This is because magnesium is pulling out all its stress-reduction tools and slowing us back down [12].

It also reduces cortisol levels —a hormone that, if not properly balanced, can increase anxiety and stress [12].

Muscles

Healthy magnesium levels keep your muscles in peak condition [5]. It keeps them healthy, as well as preventing painful cramps and spasms [13].

It does this by acting as a calcium blocker — meaning your muscles are less likely to get stiff and experience spasms or contractions [5].

This makes magnesium kind of a powerhouse for different types of muscles in the body — some studies even suggest it has positive links to the treatment of asthma, prevents the risk of cardiovascular disease, and can help in the treatment of sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome [5].

Sources of magnesium

So we're clear — magnesium deficiency is definitely one to avoid. But how do you make sure you're getting enough magnesium in your diet?

Food sources

Eating a balanced diet is always important. There's definitely magnesium-rich foods to look out for, that can help you with maintaining healthy magnesium levels. Some of these include:

  • Wholemeal bread
  • Green leafy vegetables (definitely spinach!)
  • Nuts (like peanuts, cashews and almonds)
  • Seeds (like pumpkin and chia seeds)
  • Milk
  • Rice
  • Avocado [14]

The other thing to know is if you have a diet higher in fat, it can be harder to absorb magnesium from your food [14].

Magnesium supplements

As hard as we try to eat the right foods, it can be really hard to get the right magnesium intake our body needs. That's where a magnesium supplement can come in.

Magnesium supplements can come in different forms, the most common ones are tablets or powder. This can boost your levels back up to the recommended dietary allowance of magnesium, and make sure you get all the benefits we've just mentioned.

Some people might be more at risk of magnesium deficiency, such as people with coeliac disease, Crohn's, inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes, people who are dependent on alcohol, and older adults [14].

It's important to note: there is such a thing as too much magnesium. Magnesium toxicity can happen if you have excess magnesium in your body, and symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, difficulty breathing, heart problems, and weakness [15].

The amount of magnesium you need will depend on your own health and life stage. For example, the recommended daily amount for pregnant women is different to the recommendations for men and younger adults [16].

This is why it's always important to consult with your GP or healthcare provider before you start taking any dietary supplements, and keep checking in with them regularly. They'll help you decide how much magnesium you need, depending on your health.

How to use magnesium for sleep

One of the most common reasons people start taking magnesium supplements is to improve their sleep.

At Kin, we've developed our Deep Sleep Supplement to help take advantage of all the good stuff magnesium has to offer. Designed to be taken before bed, it helps prepare your muscles for sleep while also calming your nervous system — making sleep more restful and restorative.

Magnesium won't knock you out like the sleeping pills you've seen people take in movies — instead it gives your body the best chance at falling asleep. It also shouldn't make you feel drowsy the next day like a prescription sleep aid might.

When combined with a good sleep routine, magnesium can help your sleep cycle get back to a less-frazzled baseline. Aside from taking your magnesium supplement before bed, you can also:

  • Try to go to bed at the same time each night
  • Have a warm bath or shower to relax the body
  • Reduce your caffeine intake, and avoid caffeine and nicotine before bed
  • Avoid alcohol for 4-6 hours before going to bed
  • Only use your bed for sleeping (and sex) so you don't associate it with anything else
  • Try not to check the clock if you're having trouble falling asleep
  • Avoid daytime naps where possible
  • Set up some sleep rituals: deep breathing, listening to a sleep story or white noise, putting on a fresh set of pyjamas — anything to trigger your brain that it's time for sleep [17]

If you're experiencing chronic insomnia or sleep troubles that won't seem to go away, it might be time to check in with your GP. The same goes for snoring lots — this could be a sign of sleep apnoea, which needs to be treated by a specialist.

How long before bed should I take magnesium?

So maybe we've almost talked your ears off about this wonder mineral but, honestly, getting your magnesium supplementation right could make a whole lot of difference to your sleep patterns.

Our dieticians recommend taking your magnesium supplement about an hour before bed to help you sleep. When it comes to our Deep Sleep supplement, the recommended dosage is 2 tablets per day. Remember to check with your GP before starting any new nutritional supplements or vitamins, and they can help you figure out the best routine for you.

Wherever you're at with your sleep health journey, asking for support sooner rather than later is important. We're sending you lots of restful vibes!

Photo credit: Getty Images

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