Magnesium - The Rockstar Mineral
Magnesium may be one of the easiest ways to improve your sleep. There are numerous studies citing the connection between improved sleep and this very simple but powerful mineral.
It’s found in many foods but there is documented evidence that many foods contain less magnesium than they did, say fifty years ago. Food grown in magnesium deficient soil means less of this precious mineral makes it into our food and ultimately our bodies. Unfortunately modern farming practices have depleted many nutrients in the soil.
It’s a hugely important component of more than 300 different enzymes in the human body so that a magnesium deficiency can affect lots of areas of our health. It plays an important role in hydration, muscle relaxation, energy production and, crucially, the deactivation of adrenaline. Having sufficient magnesium in your body does not necessarily guarantee that you will go into a deep sleep quickly and stay there, but insufficient stores of the mineral guarantee that you won’t!
How can you tell if you need more magnesium? It won’t show up on a typical blood test so it’s hard to know if you are deficient. However, if you’re having difficulty in going to sleep, find that you wake easily or wake before the alarm, you may be short. Cramping in the legs and feet, cold hands and feet, tightness in the neck and shoulders or if you notice twitches in small muscles (the eyelid, for example) you could benefit from magnesium.
You might find that you immediately feel the effects of magnesium. It’s vital for the function of GABA receptors. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that the brain requires to switch off; without it, we remain tense, our brain in the ‘on’ position and quite literally it becomes hard for the brain to shut itself down. Whether the brain is in ‘on’ or ‘off’ mode is a very complex area, and can also be affected by chemicals like noradrenaline, serotonin and histamine. However, on a more simple level, the most crucial balance is that of GABA vs glutamate. Whereas GABA calms (turns activity ‘off’), glutamate fires the brain into higher states of activity (the ‘on’ position). Of course for many people it’s not about magnesium and there are other problems present but for many people this is a simple solution that revolutionizes their sleep patterns.
The suggested dose is 400-500mg of magnesium before you go to sleep. This should be in a chelated form (such as citrate, ascorbate, orotate, glycinate, ideally a mix of them). For even better results, use alongside a good quality multivitamin. At Wellbeing Network we sell Magnesium flakes for your bath before bed as well as magnesium oils and sprays. These products introduce magnesium transdermally. If you take too much magnesium you will find that your bowels become loose (as an aside it’s a great therapy for constipation) so this is a good indication that you have reached your upper limits.