Looking for Something to Help You Sleep Better? Try Magnesium.
When it comes to sleep, most people have heard of melatonin and its benefits. But if I had to choose, I have another ‘M’ word in mind: Magnesium.
Why Magnesium, You Ask?
In terms of personal experience, during each of my last two trimesters of pregnancy, I had SUCH a hard time with sleep (as many a pregnant person knows). I also had mad-crazy cramps. I would wake up in the middle of the night with my legs contorting from vice-like spasms. Magnesium was SO key to calming those symptoms down and improving the quality of my sleep.
On a broader level, my work as a chronic pain specialist in the field of physical therapy especially emphasizes a whole-body, whole-person and holistic approach to health. I am involved in nutrition, mental health, hypnosis...you name it! People who struggle with chronic pain are greatly lacking for quality sleep (decreased sleep is directly related to increased nerve sensitivity and pain) and magnesium is one of the most helpful and common recommendations I make.
Magnesium is known to play a huge role in supporting healthy levels of chemical messengers (there is a neurotransmitter called GABA that is very key) that help promote sleep. It also helps with the "sense of time" our cells keep as well as with the regulation of the body's circadian rhythms (our natural sleep-wake cycles). A study performed by Abbasi et al. demonstrated that after 8 weeks of magnesium supplementation, patients that struggled with insomnia had increased sleep time as well as sleep efficiency.
In general, people who struggle with insomnia are often magnesium deficient. Insomniacs, in addition to restless sleep, often struggle with restless-leg syndrome and muscle cramps (…God! The muscle cramps!). Healthy magnesium levels support deeper sleep and can help tremendously with the cramping.
And that's just what Magnesium can do for sleep!
Magnesium is known to be one of the most important minerals for our bodies and deficiency is more common than you would think. Lack of magnesium has been linked to the development of depression, which factors into increased risk of insomnia.
Magnesium is also one of the most evidenced-based recommendations for headaches (along with Tai-Chi and Yoga, which I would also recommend as practices that help with sleep and general mental health), and it is very important for reducing stress and stabilizing moods. There is more recent research that shows deficiency in magnesium can interrupt gut health and has been linked to anxiety.
Bottom line is that beyond helping you (and me) sleep, Magnesium does a lot of crap. Oh, and it helps with that too!
About the Incredible Doctor Kross
(who I can't thank enough for her informative, brilliant and entertaining article):
Dr. Tawny Kross graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Duke University in May 2013.
She is a bit of an oddball in the PT world (and not just because she is a bit odd, with a ball-shaped personality); she has a very comprehensive and integrative approach to PT, which evolved from the necessity of such an approach in her work with the complexities of those who have chronic pain.
She has various certifications as a result: Hypnosis, Therapeutic Pain Specialist, Functional Nutrition and Functional Dry Needling are some of the few.
She loves collecting funny stories and telling them to anyone who will listen, even if it’s just to herself (over and over again).
She currently works as a chronic pain specialist at a VA Hospital in North Carolina and recently started her own business, Kross Centered Care - Integrated PT, Health and Wellness.
Magnesium Article References:
Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012;17(12):1161-1169.
Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. Published 2017 Apr 26. doi:10.3390/nu9050429
Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015;7(9):8199-8226. Published 2015 Sep 23. doi:10.3390/nu7095388
Li L, Wu C, Gan Y, Qu X, Lu Z. Insomnia and the risk of depression: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMC Psychiatry. 2016;16(1):375. Published 2016 Nov 5. doi:10.1186/s12888-016-1075-3
Tarleton EK, Littenberg B, MacLean CD, Kennedy AG, Daley C. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLoS One. 2017;12(6):e0180067. Published 2017 Jun 27. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180067