Is magnesium a better sleep aid than melatonin?

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Most folk try to remain as 'natural' as possible. Taking 'drugs' can be scary and come with a host of side effects... and so for many their serious sleep issues send them in search of a natural alternative. Both magnesium and melatonin are popular sleep aids. In this blog we unpack what they are and how they work.

1. Melatonin...magnesium... what's the difference?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring sleep hormone (think powerful chemical) found in your brain that promotes sleepiness. Melatonin release is triggered by darkness and is known as the sleepy hormone as it gets you yawning and rubbing your eyes come sunset.

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Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral (think nutritional chalk) found in your bones, heart and brain as well as in the food we eat including many green vegetables and beans. It is known as the relaxation drug as it causes the body to relax, easing tight muscles, slowing the heart and calming the mind.

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2. Which is better magnesium or melatonin?

The jury is out as many people benefit from either one or even both. This is because they benefit different sleep conditions.

Melatonin is taken as a supplement to help get you to sleep faster which helps people who struggle to fall asleep in less than 30 minutes. It improves sleep patterns for those with jet lag or shift workers and can be used to train children to fall asleep at a more appropriate time eg. sunset. It requires a prescription and cannot be used for longer than 2 months.

Unfortunately, melatonin appears to have little impact on regular night time waking and can result in side effects such as daytime sleepiness, headaches, dizziness side effects might include abdominal discomfort, mild anxiety, irritability, confusion and short-lasting feelings of depression. It also cannot be taken by those taking other drugs such as blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants); Diabetes medications; birth control pills and medications that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants).

Magnesium can also be taken as a supplement but requires no prescription as it is readily available at most health stores. It is also found in food sources such as kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic.

Magnesium is therefore more accessible than melatonin, however, there are no regulations controlling the quality or potency of magnesium tablets so you will need to work hard to ensure you are buying a good quality supplement that your body can absorb.  Unfortunately, some individuals experience a side effect of diarrhoea when taking magnesium and may need to take less or change the form they are taking. Most alternative health practitioners recommend taking magnesium plus zinc to aid its absorption and prevent diarrhoea.

Please let us know if you are a fan of M&M and how these have changed you sleep for the better.

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