About 50 to 70 million people in the United States have a chronic sleep disorder. In fact, about 7 to 19% of all American adults have reported not being able to get adequate sleep on a daily basis.1 Unfortunately, sleep deprivation increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, besides making you less efficient and more prone to errors in the workplace and otherwise.2 Reason enough to want to take corrective action!
A host of lifestyle changes, including the right food and nutrients, is vital to get your sleeping act together. And magnesium, in particular, could be the missing ingredient in your perfect sleep routine. How does magnesium help you sleep better?
1. Reduces Muscle Cramps And Restless Legs Syndrome
Magnesium is needed for an estimated 300 biochemical reactions in your body.3 But one of its critical roles, which incidentally relates directly to your sleep trouble, is maintaining normal muscle and nerve function.4 It can thereby prevent problems like muscular cramping and restless leg syndrome which interfere with sleep.5 So it’s not surprising that restless leg syndrome is linked with low magnesium, and increasing the intake of this mineral through diet or supplements often helps treat the condition. Here are a few other natural ways to treat restless leg syndrome.
2. Increases Sleep Hours And Efficiency
But not just that, as one study showed, use of supplemental magnesium in the elderly can improve various parameters of insomnia – the onset of sleep, sleep hours, and sleep efficiency. Even early morning awakening reduced. Objective measures like the melatonin and serum cortisol, hormones which impact sleep, also improved.6
3. Reduces Awakenings Due To Periodic Limb Movement
Another study found that oral magnesium therapy helped decrease arousals due to periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS) and improved sleep efficiency for test subjects who experienced sleep disturbance as a result of PLMS.7
Is Your Sleep Problem Caused By Lack Of Magnesium?
Look out for these specific signs of a magnesium deficiency and nip the problem in the bud. You will soon find you are able to sleep better.
- Insomnia itself is a sign of a magnesium deficiency.
- Muscle twitching or restless leg syndrome, which can cause you to have disturbed sleep, may also result from a deficiency.
- You may feel more fatigued, confused, or irritable besides being more apathetic.
- If you feel your memory is failing you or you can no longer learn as well as before, it could be due to a lack of magnesium in your body.
- Even eating disorders such as anorexia can be a sign that you need more magnesium.8
Are You At Risk Of Magnesium Deficiency?
There are certain categories of people who are more at risk of a deficiency. If you have diabetes, pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, or gastrointestinal diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, the chances of a magnesium deficiency are higher.
A diet that’s high in salt or drinks like alcohol, soda, or coffee can also cause a magnesium deficiency. In addition, if you take diuretics, have heavy menstrual periods, are under constant stress, or sweat excessively, you may need to watch out.9
If you fall into any of these categories or have experienced symptoms of a deficiency, work toward raising the magnesium levels and enjoy the benefits with a good night’s rest.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need Daily?
Magnesium levels in the country are well below what they should be. The recommended levels are:
- 400–420 mg a day for men
- 310–320 mg a day for women10
Magnesium supplements may seem like the easy way out, but they come with strings attached. Taking too high a dose could be detrimental to your health, causing nausea, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea. With extremely high levels of intake, you could even experience an irregular heartbeat or go into cardiac arrest.11
Recommended intake through supplements is set at a maximum of 350 mg a day for adults.
What Foods Are Rich In Magnesium?
Increasing your magnesium intake through diet is a far more safe and side effect-free option. There are multiple dietary sources of magnesium, so getting in the required amount isn’t as difficult as you’d imagine. The key, however, is to eat more fresh produce, whole-grain foods, legumes, and nuts. Avoid the empty calories from processed or refined foods which also tend to strip vegetables, fruit, or grains of their nutrients.12 Get in plenty of:
- Fresh fruit like avocados or bananas – 1 cup of cubed avocados has 44 mg magnesium, and 1 large banana has 37 mg.
- Fresh vegetables, especially green leafy ones – 1 cup of boiled spinach has about 156 mg of magnesium.
- Cashews, almonds, and other nuts – a 0.5 oz serving of almonds has about 80 mg of magnesium.
- Millet, brown rice, whole grains, and fortified cereals – 2 slices of whole wheat bread have about 46 mg of magnesium while 0.5 cup of cooked brown rice has about 42 mg of magnesium.
- Legumes, beans, peas, and seeds – 0.5 cup of black beans has about 60 mg of magnesium.
- Milk and yogurt – an 8 oz serving of low-fat yogurt has about 42 mg of magnesium.
- Soy, tofu, soy flour, and other soy products – 1 cup of soy milk has about 61 mg of magnesium.
Enjoy these natural foods regularly as part of a balanced diet and you’ll find yourself sleeping better, too!
|↑1||What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?. NIH.|
|↑2||Consequences of Insufficient Sleep. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.|
|↑3, ↑8||Magnesium in diet. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Sleep and magnesium supplements. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑5, ↑9||Magnesium. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑6||Abbasi, Behnood, Masud Kimiagar, Khosro Sadeghniiat, Minoo M. Shirazi, Mehdi Hedayati, and Bahram Rashidkhani. “The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: a double blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Journal of Research in Medical Sciences 17, no. 12 (2012).|
|↑7||Hornyak, Magdolna, Ulrich Voderholzer, Fritz Hohagen, Mathias Berger, and Dieter Riemann. “Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study.” Sleep 21, no. 5 (1998): 501-505.|
|↑10, ↑11||Magnesium Fact Sheet for Consumers. NIH.|