Could magnesium help you sleep better?

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Welcome to the fourth part of our ‘Minerals that help trigger sleep’ series.

Last week we looked at our third trace element- Iron also known as Fe. Those who suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome and excessive daytime sleepiness, often have low iron levels.

Today, we focus on our fourth trace element- Magnesium also known as Mg.

What is the link between magnesium and sleep?

Magnesium helps you fall asleep– magnesium helps muscles to relax which results in a drowsy, ready-to-sleep state. It also helps muscles recover and heal which could mean less muscle pain.

Magnesium helps to get rid of stress hormones– A small study by Golf et al (1984) called 'Plasma aldosterone, cortisol and electrolyte concentrations in physical exercise after magnesium supplementation' found that all nine adult males who took a magnesium supplement for one week had reduced stress hormones (cortisol and aldosterone) in their blood stream post-exercise. The theory is that magnesium helps the human body deal with stress (yes, exercise is classified as a stressor) and get back to equilibrium.

Those with insomnia and mental health issues such as anxiety would sleep better if they did not have a magnesium deficiency.

What foods are rich in magnesium?

Foods that are grown in magnesium-rich soil will have higher levels of magnesium, but the magnesium powerhouses are usually spinach, nuts and fish.

Magnesium is also found in natural water sources (where the water has been in contact with soil) such as mineral water. It may be found in varying concentrations in municipal water depending on how the water has been processed.

What supplements can be taken?

Magnesium deficiency is a risk not only to your sleep but also to your skeleton, muscles, mood and memory. Supplementation may be necessary if the foods you eat are not grown in magnesium-rich soil and/or if the water you drink has been purified (the magnesium has been removed).

Magnesium supplementation can occur through taking a multi-vitamin or buying a magnesium mineral tablet on its own.  It is also possible to absorb magnesium by soaking in a warm bath dosed with Epsom salts.

What precautions need to be followed?

Magnesium is used to treat constipation as it attracts water into the bowels and causes stools to soften. However, taking too much can result in the opposite complaint- diarrhoea- so start slowly if you intend to take a magnesium supplement.

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