Essential macro-mineral may improve sleep quality in people with low Magnesium levels.
Naturally found in abundance in the body as well as in various types of food, Magnesium (Mg) is an integral part of overall well-being. It has traditionally been used in medicine for bone and nerve-related issues but also has such potential uses for sleep as:
- Relaxing muscles. Magnesium helps maintain proper muscle and nerve function for solid rest.
- Reducing stress. The mineral may reduce stress and anxiety.
- Improving sleep quality. Studies have shown the potential of magnesium to improve sleep quality, sleep time, and sleep onset latency, especially in the elderly.
Originating from the explosion of aging stars, Magnesium (Mg) is the 9th most bountiful element in the universe. The shiny gray chemical element is widely present on the planet, as well as in a ton of different food and even in the healthy human body.
As an essential macro-mineral, Mg is vital in sustaining a number of bodily processes, including bone development, muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve function, energy production, testosterone boosting, and heart regulation, among many others.
In order to maintain a consistent, working quantity of Mg in the body (roughly 25 mg, or 0.85 mmol/L of blood), the average adult needs to consume between 300 and 400 mg per day based on Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) recommendations.1
Despite how critical Mg is for our health, Mg inadequacy is growing into a huge health concern due to the rise of digestional complications and low dietary intake. Reports show that up to 15% of the population faces some degree of Mg deficiency and only about 32% of people in the U.S. actually meet dietary standards.2
The good news is that we can very easily satisfy our Mg needs by eating everyday foods:
|Brown rice||86||1 cup|
|Fish, mackerel||82||3 ounces|
|Milk||34||8 fluid ounces|
In addition to its other health benefits, Mg has recently been drawing interest as a potential sleep aid due to its role in a variety of hormonal and neurotransmissional pathways, including that of Calcium (Ca), cortisol, adrenaline, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
How Magnesium May Help With Sleep
Magnesium counterbalances muscle contraction via the Calcium pathway. Mg competes with Ca for membrane binding sites, which results in lower intracellular free calcium concentrations.4 Increased Mg may therefore reduce muscle tension in the body.
- Less readily available Ca means less muscle activity.
- Less (myocardial, smooth, and skeletal) muscle activity may help the body to relax, which is ideal for sound sleeping.
Decreasing Stress & Anxiety
Although the precise machinery of Magnesium’s impact on sleep behavior isn’t crystal clear, it does seem to play a part in the regulation of the central nervous system. The mineral appears to have an indispensable role in handling both N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors as an antagonist and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors as an agonist.
- Mg has the capacity to block NMDA receptors in order to prevent excess activity and desensitization of the neural system.56 During deep sleep, NMDA receptors constantly turn on and off for memory consolidation, and Mg is essential to maintaining this fluctuation.7
- Mg supplements activate GABA receptors, which is essential for helping calm the body before sleep.89 Magnesium Taurate is particularly adept at reducing anxiety and lowering stress cortisol levels since taurine facilitates the production of GABA.
Improving Sleep Quality
The administration of magnesium affects the renin-angiotension aldosterone (RAA) system by first, stimulating renin secretion through the elevation of prostaglandin levels, and then suppressing aldosterone production through diminished intracellular calcium mobilization.10
High levels of renin are critical for sparking and sustaining healthy sleep. One study demonstrated that the renin quantities lost during periods of sleep deprivation may once again be boosted upon recovery-sleep, which highlights the relevance of maintaining adequate amounts of renin for wholesome sleep.11 What all of this is getting at is that Mg may improve sleep quality by triggering the release of renin.
Magnesium Benefits & Uses for Sleep
For starters, Mg deficiencies have been shown to provoke anxiety and sleeping complications possibly as a consequence of disrupting the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis.12 On the flipside, keeping plenty of Mg around might just be able to minimize any sleep distress that anxiety might be causing.
A number of studies have demonstrated that less and poor quality sleep correlates with lower levels of Mg.15 The reverse looks to be true as well: higher levels of Mg enhance sleep quality, especially in situations following sleep deprivation.16
Taking this basis one step farther, certain investigations have dug deeper into understanding the influence of Mg on sleep patterns in the elderly since Mg levels naturally drop with age. It turns out that Mg supplementation seems to improve sleep quality while reducing sleep onset latency in the elderly, as the research section details below. The question, then, appears to be whether or not these effects translate to young and middle-aged adults and how potent standard dosages really are.
Magnesium & it’s various forms. Magnesium in its free element form is highly reactive and so is generally linked to one of its many ionic counterparts. Several Mg supplements are available, and the top options appear to be:
- Magnesium Chelate: Highly absorbable & natural. Mg is bound to a mixture of several amino acids, including arginine, lysine, and taurine.
- Magnesium Citrate: Mg attached to citric acid offers high bioavailability.
- Magnesium Chloride: Generally an oil applied to skin that is ideal for people who are unable to absorb Mg through their stomach.
Some other forms include Magnesium Glycinate, Magnesium Threonate, Magnesium Oxide, and Magnesium Sulfate, which are not absorbed nearly as well as the others.
Studies favor taking a Magnesium supplement in scenarios of Mg deficiency, such as old age, malabsorption, alcoholism, or diets low in Mg. The mineral seems to show promise as a sleep aid, and more research targeting adults without deficiencies would likely help verify the case.
In this randomized, placebo-controlled cohort investigation, 12 elders were given Mg(2+) in effervescent tablets at a total of 30 mmol each day for a period of 20 days. Sleep electroencephalograms (EEG) identified an increase in slow wave sleep (16.5 ± 20.4 min vs. 10.1 ± 15.4 min), renin (3.7 ± 2.3 ng/ml/min vs. 2.3 ± 1.0 ng/ml/min), aldosterone (3.6 ± 4.7 ng/ml/min vs. 1.1 ± 0.9 ng/ml/min). A significant decrease in cortisol (8.3 ± 2.4 pg/ml/min vs. 11.8 ± 3.8 pg/ml/min) was also noted.
- The study concluded that “Mg(2+) partially reverses sleep EEG and nocturnal neuroendocrine changes occurring during aging.”17
In this placebo-controlled, double-blind study, 100 adults over the age of 51 years were given 320 mg of magnesium citrate daily. Overall Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) scores improved from 10.4 to 6.6, which suggests enhanced sleep quality.
- The study concluded that “because dietary magnesium intake did not change during the experimental period, another factor, possibly a placebo effect, improved sleep quality.”18
In this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, 46 adults over the age of 65 years were given tablets of 414 mg of magnesium oxide daily over the course of 8 weeks. Based on questionnaires, sleep logs, and blood samples, magnesium users had significant increases in sleep time, sleep efficiency, and renin and melatonin concentrations, as well as decreases in insomnia, cortisol concentrations, and sleep onset latency.
- The study concluded that “supplementation of magnesium appears to improve subjective measures of insomnia such as ISI score, sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset latency, early morning awakening, and likewise, insomnia objective measures.”19
Dosage for Sleep
Magnesium may be taken as:
- A supplemental capsule, 200 – 800 mg
- A skin oil, Magnesium Chloride
- Vitamin B6 may help with nutrient absorption, including Mg
The best way to check magnesium levels is through a blood, saliva, or urine sample.
Supplements in Review Says
- Magnesium, 400 mg
We recommend Magnesium supplements for people who have low levels. Maintaining healthy levels of Magnesium is absolutely critical for effective sleep, which is why we highly recommend Magnesium supplements for people who have unnaturally low levels, including the elderly. For those who already have and regularly intake steady amounts of Mg, supplements may be used to facilitate sleep by calming the body.
Try Magnesium as a citrate or chelate for sleep. While Magnesium comes in a ton of different forms, we suggest trying Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Chelate as a standardized capsule at roughly 400 mg for optimal sleep enhancement.
- Elin RJ. Assessment of magnesium status for diagnosis and therapy. Magnes Res.2010 Dec;23(4):S194-8. ↩
- Ayuk J, Gittoes NJ. Contemporary view of the clinical relevance of magnesium homeostasis. Annals of Clinical Biochemistry. 2004 Mar;51(2):179-88. ↩
- Szent-Gyorgy AG. Calcium regulation of muscle contraction. Biophys J. 1975 Jul; 15(7): 707-23. ↩
- R Swaminathan. Magnesium Metabolism and its Disorders. Clin Biochem Rev. 2003 May;24(2):47-66. ↩
- Crosby V, Wilcock A, et al. The safety and efficacy of a single dose (500 mg or 1 g) of intravenous magnesium sulfate in neuropathic pain poorly responsive to strong opioid analgesics in patients with cancer. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2000 Jan;19(1):35-9. ↩
- Grady EF, Bohm SK, et al. Turning off the signal: mechanisms that attenuate signaling by G protein-coupled receptors. Am J Physiol. 1997;273(3 Pt 1):G586-601. ↩
- McDermott CM, LaHoste GJ, et al. Sleep deprivation causes behavioral, synaptic, and membrane excitability alterations in hippocampal neurons. J Neurosci. 2003;23(29):9687-95. ↩
- Moykkynen T, Uusi-Oukari M, et al. Magnesium potentiation of the function of native and recombinant GABA(A) receptors. Neuroreport. 2001 Jul 20;12(10):2175-9. ↩
- Gottesmann C. GABA mechanisms and sleep. Neuroscience. 2002;111(2):231-9. ↩
- Ichihara A, Suzuki H, et al. Effects of magnesium on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in human subjects. J Lab Clin Med. 1993 Oct;122(4):432-40. ↩
- Murck H, Uhr M, et al. Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, HPA-axis and sleep-EEG changes in unmedicated patients with depression after total sleep deprivation. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2006 Jan;39(1):23-9. ↩
- Sartori SB, Whittle N, et al. Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology. 2012 Jan;62(1):304-12. ↩
- Morrison AP, Hunter JM, et al. Effect of intrathecal magnesium in the presence or absence of local anaesthetic with and without lipophilic opioids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Anaesth. 2013 May;110(5):702-12. ↩
- El-Kerdawy H. Analgesic requirements for patients undergoing lower extremity orthopedic surgery–the effect of combined spinal and epidural magnesium. Middle East J Anaesthesiol. 2008 Jun;19(5):1013-25. ↩
- Omiya K, Akashi YJ, et al. Heart-rate response to sympathetic nervous stimulation, exercise, and magnesium concentration in various sleep conditions. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.2009 Apr;19(2):127-35. ↩
- Chollet D, Franken P, et al. Blood and brain magnesium in inbred mice and their correlation with sleep quality. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2000 Dec;279(6):R2173-8. ↩
- Held K, Antonijevic IA, et al. Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2002 Jul;35(4):135-43. ↩
- Nielsen FH, Johnson LK, et al. Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep. Magnes Res. 2010 Dec;23(4):158-68. ↩
- Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012 Dec;17(12):1161-9. ↩
- Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, et al. The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Jan;59(1):82-90. ↩