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Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? If so, you may be lacking magnesium – an essential mineral that plays an important role in calming the central nervous system and inducing sleep. Because of the strong connection between magnesium and the central nervous system, magnesium supplements for sleep are among the most popular natural sleep supplements.

At Recharge.Energy, we’re dedicated to offering the most accurate information and advice to help you improve your sleep. That’s why, in this guide, we discuss everything you need to know about magnesium sleep supplements before buying.

You’ll learn about what magnesium is, how it can help you, and the specific sleeping problems it’s used for. We’ll also cover some frequently asked questions regarding magnesium. If you’re thinking about using magnesium for sleep, consider this your complete guide.

The information on Recharge.Energy.com is not meant to replace professional advice or meant to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Always consult your doctor before trying any products you see on this site.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral for the human body, meaning the human body needs magnesium to be able to function properly.

Magnesium participates in the regulation of more than 300 biochemical processes in the body[1]Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. It’s important for our heart health, our bones, our nervous system, glucose regulation, energy production, and many other processes.[2]Magnesio en la dieta. It’s no surprise that magnesium also plays an important role in our ability to sleep.

Magnesium and sleep

Magnesium helps us sleep by:

  1. Restoring balance to our central nervous system
  2. Regulating the functioning of GABA neurotransmitters
  3. Assisting with the production of serotonin and, therefore, melatonin

Restoring balance to our central nervous system

Our central nervous system is divided into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS).

The SNS is responsible for keeping us alert and active during the day. It’s also responsible for our fight-or-flight system and signals the release of stress hormones (cortisol) in the midst of danger. The PSNS, on the other hand, is responsible for all activities related to resting, digesting, and preparing the body for sleep [3]Parasympathetic nervous system.

High stress in our daily lives can cause the SNS to become overactive and the PSNS to become underactive. This imbalance can lead to poor sleep.

Studies have shown that magnesium for sleep helps rebalance the two systems, reducing stress and anxiety and improving sleep problems [4]Long-term HRV Analysis Shows Stress Reduction by Magnesium Intake.

Regulating the functioning of GABA neurotransmitters

Magnesium also helps regulate the functioning of our GABA neurotransmitters [5]Magnesium Potentiation of the Function of Native and Recombinant GABA(A) Receptors, naturally occurring amino acids that play an important role in preparing the body to sleep.

GABA works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Its role is to block certain brain signals and decrease activity in the central nervous system to, ultimately, slow down the brain. Simply put, GABA’s job is to calm the mind[6]Magnesium and Sleep. Magnesium helps GABA, and GABA helps us sleep.

Assisting with the production of serotonin

Serotonin, also known as the happy chemical, plays an important role in the production of melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone. Melatonin production is essential to be able to fall asleep quickly and to stay asleep throughout the night.

The production of serotonin and melatonin is dependent on the essential amino acid, tryptophan. When tryptophan metabolizes, it forms a compound called 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan). 5-HTP is necessary for the production of serotonin, which is necessary for the production of melatonin. [7]L-tryptophan & 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) Here’s a representation of the process:

Steps to create serotonin through tryptophan:

Tryptophan —► 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) —► 5-Hydroxytryptamine —► Serotonin

Steps to create melatonin through tryptophan:

Tryptophan —► 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) —► 5-Hydroxytryptamine —► Serotonin —► N-acetyl-serotonin —►Melatonin

Research indicates that magnesium is a cofactor for this process, meaning magnesium is essential for both the production of serotonin and melatonin[8]Magnesium and stress.

Research supporting the role of magnesium for sleep

Several studies have found a clear relationship between magnesium deficiency and insomnia.

For example, in one study, scientists fed rats a magnesium-deficient diet and analyzed their sleep. They concluded that the rats stayed awake 50% longer than usual, that they suffered from neuronal excitability, and that the magnesium-deficiency significantly altered their sleep cycles. Specifically, their deep sleep was reduced by 24%[9]Effects of a magnesium-deficient diet on sleep organization in rats.

Other studies show that magnesium helps us to fall asleep, have a deeper and more restful sleep, as well as avoid nighttime awakenings[10]The magic of magnesium[11]The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial[12]The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

It’s also been observed that people with anxiety and depression, factors that greatly affect the quality of sleep, have magnesium deficiency[13]Magnesium and depression[14]Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep.

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiencies are linked to serious diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis[15]Magnesium Metabolism and its Disorders.

Since the body doesn’t produce magnesium on its own, it must be obtained from diet and/or supplementation. Foods highest in magnesium include green, leafy vegetables and nuts.

Unfortunately, epidemiological studies show that the general population consumes up to 30% less than the recommended daily dose of magnesium[16]Magnesio. Scientific Communication: Art o Technique?.

People most at risk of magnesium-deficiency include[17]Magnesium. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals:

  • Anyone with a low-vegetable diet
  • Elderly people (especially women)
  • Pregnant women
  • Athletes

In addition, the following conditions make it difficult for the body to absorb proper amounts of magnesium and can, thus, lead to magnesium deficiency[18]Magnesium: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning:

  • alcoholism
  • bleeding disorders
  • diabetes
  • old age
  • stomach infections
  • autoimmune diseases
  • inflammatory bowel disease

Although mild magnesium-deficiencies are often asymptomatic, moderate magnesium deficiencies do produce some noticeable symptoms, including[19]Magnesium. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals:

  • Cramps
  • Muscular weakness
  • Mood changes
  • Insomnia
  • Nighttime agitation

Magnesium supplements for restless leg syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition caused by an alteration of the nervous system that’s characterized by an urgent need to move or touch the legs. People with this syndrome have trouble falling asleep and often wake up at night with the urge to walk around in order to relieve their symptoms[20]Restless legs syndrome.

Síndrome Piernas Inquietas

According to experts from the Sleep Institute, 2-3% of the population suffers from this condition. In fact, 1 in 4 people who visit their clinic complaining about chronic insomnia are diagnosed with restless legs syndrome[21]Piernas inquietas: causas, síntomas y tratamiento.

So far, there is no definitive cure for RLS. However, recent research indicates that magnesium supplementation may reduce symptoms.

In one study, 10 patients with RLS took a magnesium supplement for 4-6 weeks. The researchers concluded that magnesium supplementation was able to reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of sleep[22]Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study.

Benefits of taking magnesium to improve your sleep

  • It’s a safe supplement that rarely has side effects when taken correctly/
  • A lot of scientific research supports the effectiveness of magnesium for improving sleep/
  • Magnesium supplementation can also help prevent other serious health conditions
  • Almost anyone can take it, even pregnant women.

Additional benefits of magnesium supplementation

  • For migraines [23]Magnesium and Migraine Prevention | American Migraine Foundation
  • For diabetes [24]Implications of Magnesium Deficiency in Type 2 Diabetes: A Review[25]Magnesium and type 2 diabetes
  • For bone health [26]Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions
  • For hot flashes [27]A pilot phase II trial of magnesium supplements to reduce menopausal hot flashes in breast cancer patients
  • For cardiovascular health [28]Magnesium helps the heart keep its mettle

Magnesium Supplements - FAQ

Why are there so many kinds of magnesium supplements?

There are many kinds of magnesium supplements: magnesium carbonate, citrate, sulfate, magnesium oxide, chloride, threonate, malate, ascorbate, etc. This is because magnesium cannot be a molecule by itself. It has to bind to another element to be stable. Depending on the molecule that magnesium binds to, its level of absorption and its effects will be different.

Which magnesium supplement should I take for sleep?

The best way to choose a magnesium supplement for sleep is to look for a molecule that (a) enhances the relaxing effects of magnesium and/or (b) serves other functions that may be helpful to you.

Because glycine has a calming effect, magnesium glycinate is among the most recommended magnesium supplements for sleep.

In addition to helping with insomnia…

  • Magnesium citrate improves digestion and prevents constipation[29]Magnesium Citrate Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing.
  • Magnesium chloride helps speed up a slow metabolism and improve kidney function. It also helps provide energy and relax muscles, making it the magnesium supplement of choice for many athletes[30]Magnesium Chloride Oral : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing.
  • Magnesium threonate can help improve memory and other cognitive functions[31]Magnesium L-Threonate to Enhance Learning and Memory in People with Dementia.
  • Magnesium lactate is gentle on the stomach and is, therefore, recommended for those who don’t tolerate chloride or citrate well and also for people who have to take large amounts of magnesium[32]Magnesium L-Lactate Tablet, Extended Release.

Can anyone take magnesium supplements?

Magnesium is an essential mineral for all people of all ages. When taken in proper doses (as indicated by the manufacturer), magnesium can be taken by almost anyone, including adults and children. It can even be taken during pregnancy[33]Supplements considered safe during pregnancy.

That being said, you should avoid magnesium for sleep if you are taking any of the following medications:

  • antibiotics
  • bisphosphonates
  • medications for high blood pressure
  • muscle relaxants
  • diuretics

Magnesium supplementation is also not recommended for people with kidney problems.

As always, you should consult your doctor before starting any kind of supplementation treatment.

How much magnesium should I take?

Different manufacturers recommend different doses, however most recommend the following daily doses [34]Magnesium: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning:

  • 65 mg for children 1-3 years old
  • 110 mg for children 4-8 years old
  • 350 mg for children older than 8 years old
  • 350 – 500 mg for adults

>Are there any side effects of magnesium supplementation?

Magnesium is a safe supplement that rarely produces side effects when taken correctly. However, if proper dosage is exceeded and too much magnesium is absorbed, the following effects may occur [35]Medications that contain magnesium:

Other natural sleep supplements

There are many natural sleep supplements that can improve your quality of sleep, including melatonin, tryptophan, and valerian.

Melatonin

Melatonin (also known as the sleep hormone) is a hormone produced in the pineal gland of our brain that causes sleepiness and helps us synchronize our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle known as our circadian rhythm. Melatonin production is essential to be able to fall asleep quickly and to stay asleep throughout the night. If you have a hard time falling asleep and/or you find yourself waking up several times during the night, your body may be producing too little melatonin.

Interested in learning more? Check out the complete guide:
Melatonin for Sleep | Natural melatonin for improving sleep/a>

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our body needs to live and that we can only get from diet or supplementation. It serves to produce serotonin (the happiness hormone) which is necessary for the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). That is, without tryptophan, your body cannot produce the serotonin or melatonin it needs to induce sleep.

Unfortunately, not everybody has adequate levels of tryptophan in their body. Poor nutrition, unhealthy habits, or medical conditions may lead to inadequate levels of tryptophan in the body.

Interested in learning more? Check out the complete guide:
Tryptophan for Sleep

Valerian

Valerian is an age-old medicinal herb that has sedative effects on the brain and central nervous system. Valerian works by improving the response of certain transmitters responsible for “turning off” the body and preparing it for sleep. In the world of natural medicine, it is known as “natural valium” because it achieves a similar effect on the body. Valerian can do wonders for sleep.

Interested in learning more? Check out the complete guide:
Valerian root for sleep

CBD Oil

CBD oil is one of the chemical compounds called cannabinoids that the cannabis or marijuana plant contains. This compound is not addictive nor does it produce any psychoactive effects. It intervenes by improving the functions of our endocannabioid system (ECS). It works by regulating sleep cycles, reducing stress or anxiety, and relaxing muscles. It makes us feel more rested and improves the quality of sleep.

Interested in learning more? Check out the complete guide:
CBD for sleep

If you want more information about these and other supplements that can improve sleep, visit our post about the most effective natural sleeping pills according to science.

Other sleep solutions

Many sleeping problems are due to physiological or psychological disorders, but there are also external factors that can cause insomnia or make it worse.

The pillars of a good night’s sleep are comfort, relaxation, darkness, and silence or ambient sounds. If you’re missing any one of these pillars, your sleep may be compromised.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can improve your sleep. Check out other sleep solutions by reading the full article: 27 Tips to sleep better

Relaxation

  • Essential oils for sleep. Some oils have the property of transforming and balancing our emotions, reducing anxiety, depression or mental fatigue.
  • Infusions for sleep. A natural remedy used for hundreds of years to induce sleep

Darkness

  • Sleep masks. Provide the darkness your brain needs to produce melatonin and induce sleep naturally.
  • Blue light blocking glasses. Block blue light from electronic devices and artificial lights that inhibit the production of melatonin in the brain.

Silence or ambient sounds

  • Ear plugs. Silence can help you relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
  • Sleep headphones. Ergonomic headphones for people who need a sound stimulus to sleep.
  • White noise machines. Prevent noise from waking you up at night without having to wear headphones.

Comfort

Interested in learning more about how you sleep?

Sleep tracking devices have all of the technological features needed to track and monitor your sleep. By measuring your heart rate, listening to your breathing patterns, and detecting your movements, sleep trackers can teach you a lot about how you sleep.

Referencias[+]

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