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The role of magnesium in sleep

Nearly 50% of adults suffer from insomnia symptoms – it may be difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep – nonetheless sleep seems to elude half of us.

Thankfully there are a few things we can do to invite the sandman back into our bedrooms and drift off to the blissful retreat of sleep.   Practicing good sleep hygiene is essential if you are one of the unlucky few to struggle with sleep.   Good sleep hygiene involves going to bed at a similar time each night, ensuring you avoid bright lights (especially blue light, like TV or computer screens), avoiding caffeine and establishing a routine before bedtime to signal to your body that it is time to begin winding down.   There are tons of good information online on how to improve sleep hygiene.

Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in many different functions in our body, one of which is acting on the system in our brains responsible for making us calm down and switch off.   Magnesium is a GABA agonist, that means that it binds to and stimulates GABA receptors in your brain.  The GABA receptors slow down your racing mind and help induce a state of relaxation.   Without adequate levels of magnesium this system will not function properly and so instead of settling down to rest your brain will keep firing.

Clinical trials have shown that magnesium supplementation helps people fall asleep easier, stay asleep and have a better-quality sleep which of course leads to feeling better during our waking hours.

Cobus Botha 

BNatMed

Naturopath & Medical Herbalist

References:

Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M. M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences17(12), 1161–1169.

Arab, A., Rafie, N., Amani, R., & Shirani, F. (2022). The Role of Magnesium in Sleep Health: a Systematic Review of Available Literature. Biological trace element research, 10.1007/s12011-022-03162-1. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-022-03162-1 

Zhang, Y., Chen, C., Lu, L., Knutson, K. L., Carnethon, M. R., Fly, A. D., Luo, J., Haas, D. M., Shikany, J. M., & Kahe, K. (2022). Association of magnesium intake with sleep duration and sleep quality: findings from the CARDIA study. Sleep45(4), zsab276. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsab276

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