When it comes to sleep, magnesium is one of your most reliable bedtime companions. We only store a small amount of this mineral in our body (0.05% of our body weight). However, it contributes to over 800 biological reactions including restoring baseline energy and supporting all nerve and muscle function. Magnesium deficiency can lead to symptoms like anxiety, depression, muscle cramping, and insomnia. Getting a good night’s sleep not only helps you feel refreshed and ready for a new day – it helps increase energy, improves focus, and encourages a more balanced mood. However, your ability to achieve quality sleep is partially dependent on your magnesium levels.
Magnesium’s role in restful sleep
Our body’s circadian rhythm triggers sleep at night and wakefulness in the morning. It achieves this by balancing two important hormones – melatonin and cortisol. These hormones follow naturally opposing cycles. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. Signaled by darkness, melatonin is sent through the bloodstream to receptor sites in order to encourage sleep at night.
As the sun rises, melatonin production stops. Cortisol is produced by the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis to promote wakefulness and alertness. It reaches its lowest point around midnight and hits its peak approximately an hour after waking.
The average adult requires between 7-9 hours of sleep in order to function optimally. When we are in our adolescent and teen years, an additional 1-2 hours is required for proper development. This is vital growth, repair, and re-energizing time!
What’s disrupting my circadian rhythm?
There are a number of ways in which we can unintentionally disrupt our circadian rhythm. This includes:
- Causing cortisol to spike throughout the day with excessive caffeine intake
- Staying up too late
- Not getting enough exposure to natural light
- Getting too much exposure to blue light from screens
As a result of these disruptions, cortisol and melatonin can’t function in the ways they’re meant to. By supporting our bodies with healthy sleep habits, we contribute to adequate, restful sleep. Focus on reducing caffeine intake, prioritizing nutrition, getting outside, going to bed earlier, and taking breaks from screens. A magnesium-rich diet doesn’t hurt either!
Magnesium’s relationship to stress
Magnesium’s powers of relaxation don’t stop at bedtime. It’s known as the “anti-stress” mineral because it helps maintain homeostasis in the brain. Chronic stress depletes magnesium, and magnesium depletion decreases our ability to manage stress.
For nighttime anxiety, take a combination of magnesium, GABA, and melatonin. This combination can help to quiet your mind, relax your muscles and allow you to drift to sleep!
Food sources of magnesium
On average, 60% of Canadian adults are getting less than the daily estimated average requirement (EAR) for magnesium due to the heavy processing and refining of foods. According to Health Canada, the daily EAR for magnesium is 260 mg for women, and 350 mg for men.
The first step to addressing magnesium deficiency is with a whole foods diet containing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins. Add in specific magnesium-rich foods including:
- Nuts such as almonds, pecans, cashews, and Brazil nuts
- Seeds such as flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds
- Legumes such as soy and tofu
- Whole grains like millet, brown rice, and whole wheat containing both the bran and germ
- Dried apricots
Magnesium works to relax your whole body – this means both your muscles and your nervous system. With muscular function, potassium contracts and magnesium relaxes. Within our nervous system, this contraction and relaxation occurs within individual blood vessels. If we are deficient in magnesium, our muscles and blood vessels cannot relax properly. This can lead to physical tension, high blood pressure, and an overall feeling of stress.
To relax the body, reduce stress, and get more restful sleep, we can supplement with magnesium daily. Magnesium Glycinate Liquid is a great, easily absorbable option.