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This article explains the benefits of magnesium and how it can help for treating insomnia.
How Magnesium Can Help You Sleep
Written by Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD — Updated on April 30, 2017
Many people have trouble sleeping, and breaking the cycle of insomnia can be hard.
You can try changing your sleep routine and curbing your caffeine intake, but sometimes these lifestyle interventions fall short.
Supplements are another popular option. One supplement that’s gained some attention as a potential sleep aid is magnesium.
This mineral has wide-ranging effects in the body and may influence some of the processes that promote sleep.
Read on to learn the connection between magnesium and a good night’s sleep.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is one of the most common minerals on earth and is present in many foods (1, 2, 3).
It’s essential for human health and is used in over 600 cellular reactions throughout your body (3).
In fact, every cell and organ need this mineral to function properly. It contributes to bone health, as well as proper brain, heart and muscle function (3).
Magnesium supplements have been linked to a number of benefits, including fighting inflammation, relieving constipation and lowering blood pressure (4, 5).
In addition, magnesium may help treat sleep problems.
Many types of magnesium supplements are available. These include magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide and magnesium chloride.
It Can Help Your Body and Brain Relax
In order to fall asleep and stay asleep, your body and brain need to relax.
On a chemical level, magnesium aids this process by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for getting you calm and relaxed (6).
First, magnesium regulates neurotransmitters, which send signals throughout the nervous system and brain.
It also regulates the hormone melatonin, which guides sleep-wake cycles in your body (7).
Second, this mineral binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA is the neurotransmitter responsible for quieting down nerve activity. It is the same neurotransmitter used by sleep drugs like Ambien (8, 9).
By helping to quiet the nervous system, magnesium may help prepare your body and mind for sleep.
Not Having Enough of It Interferes With Sleep
Not having enough magnesium in your system can cause troubled sleep and even insomnia (10).
Studies in mice have shown that optimal levels of this mineral are needed for normal sleep and that both high and low levels can cause sleep problems (11).
Certain groups of people have a higher risk of magnesium deficiency, including (2):
People with digestive diseases: Issues with your digestive tract can cause your body to not absorb vitamins and minerals properly, resulting in deficiencies.
People with diabetes: Insulin resistance and diabetes are linked with excess magnesium loss.
People with alcohol dependence: Deficiency in this mineral is common among those who drink heavily.
Older adults: Many older adults have less magnesium in their diets than younger adults and may also be less efficient at absorbing it.
If you’re not getting enough magnesium, then you may experience sleep problems.