You might have heard a bit about magnesium and its range of health benefits. But how does magnesium really help with sleep, and how should you use it? Here is a comprehensive guide to using magnesium for sleep.
What is magnesium?
Magnesium (Mg) is the fourth most abundant element in the earth and the eleventh most abundant mineral in the human body. So as a natural mineral, magnesium is kind of a big deal. Humans get their magnesium from foods, such as legumes, nuts, cereals, seeds, meat and leafy green vegetables. Yet, magnesium deficiency is a common problem. It has been estimated that up to 80% of the population is low in magnesium, usually caused by inadequate dietary intake. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency range from fatigue, weakness and nausea to cramps, numbness, and even abnormal heart rhythms.
What does magnesium do?
Magnesium is fundamental to our cells and body organs. Magnesium is involved in bone, muscle and DNA production and contributes to the functioning of enzymes, nerves, the circulatory system and the brain, just to name a few. It’s safe to say that the human body cannot function without magnesium. Magnesium has also been reported to help with excessive stress, mood disorders, chronic pain, skin conditions and insomnia.
Magnesium for sleep
Sleep Doctor, Michael J. Breus, claims that “few dietary elements have more influence over the body than magnesium.” People with low magnesium levels can experience restless sleep and frequent waking.
Magnesium relieves muscle tension and has many relaxing properties that help the body and brain relax. Magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body and mind. It also regulates melatonin, which is known as the sleep hormone, because it controls your internal body clock. Magnesium also supports deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps quieten down nerve activity and is often found in sleep medication. As well as helping you to drift off initially, using magnesium helps achieve deep and restful sleep.
Magnesium can also relieve people who suffer from other health problems that can cause insomnia, such as restless-leg syndrome, depression and anxiety.
How to use magnesium for sleep
- ORAL MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS can be taken in the form of a tablet, capsule, liquid or powder. These can be found at pharmacies or health food stores and can come with added vitamins and minerals.
- MAGNESIUM OIL is a great way to apply magnesium topically and comes in a convenient spray bottle. The word ‘oil’ is misleading as the magnesium is usually dissolved in water. The spray does not feel oily and will not leave a residue. It is believed that transdermal (through the skin) absorption of magnesium is faster and more effective than oral methods. It can be used on any area of the body. Try it on areas where you are experiencing tension or pain. Half an hour before bed, rub it onto your feet and the backs of your knees for a tranquil sleep. Sometimes a slight stinging can occur, especially on broken skin, but this is nothing to worry about and can actually be a sign of magnesium deficiency.
- MOISTURISERS WITH MAGNESIUM are another effective transdermal method of topping up your magnesium levels. If the thought that adding another task to your daily routine is all just too much, magnesium cream could be the answer – moisturising and applying magnesium at the same time. Which creams you like will depend on personal preference, so have a read of the ingredients first. In general, creams and balms will not be as high in magnesium as the magnesium oil sprays.
- ROLL-ON MAGNESIUM is another popular way to apply magnesium. As with the sprays and creams, choice of roll-ons really comes down to personal preference. Roll-ons are handy to take travelling or to pop in your handbag due to their size. They usually have similar magnesium levels to the sprays and should be applied similarly to areas with pain or tension. Unlike the sprays, a roll-on should not be shared with other people.
- BATH SALTS are fantastic for soaking all that lovely magnesium into your body. But not all bath salts are created equal. Look at the ingredients of your bath salts to know what you are getting. Magnesium salts (Magnesium Chloride) usually come from seawater and are high in magnesium. Dead sea salt is a common ingredient as it is very high in magnesium, potassium, calcium chloride, sodium and bromide. Traditional Epsom salts (Magnesium Sulfate) are also high in magnesium and great in a relaxing bath. They also have added health benefits from the sulphate. However, sulphur can irritate some people’s skin, so do a patch test first.
- OTHER BODY PRODUCTS can come with added magnesium so if you are serious about your magnesium you might want to try body scrub, deodorant, body wash, hair product, self-tanner or bubble bath with magnesium.
Magnesium sleep aids for kids
Magnesium is beneficial for children as well as adults. Magnesium assists with physical growth and mental development, as well as helping with behaviour problems and poor sleep. Always read the label of your magnesium product to see if it suits your child’s age. Some will suggest a diluted version for younger children. There are also magnesium products formulated specifically for children and babies. Always remember to do a patch test first.
Please note: This article is not to be used as medical advice. Always speak to a medical professional before taking supplements to ensure they are right for you. This post may contain affiliate links.