Our favorite mineral is a regular wizard when it comes to relaxing the body and helping minimize our response to stressful stimuli. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that this wonder nutrient also has a phenomenal impact on sleep function and quality.
We often don’t consider just how crucial getting sufficient amounts of undisturbed, quality sleep is for overall health and well-being – the focus often being placed instead on diet and exercise. It’s certainly not new or shocking that a lack of sleep can lead to any number of mental health issues and even death, but sleep research over the last decade has been uncovering deeper connections to illness and disease than we’ve suspected in the past. Our brain is still quite an enigma in the grand scheme of things, but one thing is for sure, it’s ultimately in the driver’s seat of our biological processes. Lack of sleep equates to neglect… neglect of the most important organ in your body.
Can’t Sleep? Call Dr. Magnesium
One of the many benefits attributed to magnesium use is improved sleep – whether it be simply helping you stay asleep longer, fall asleep faster, or battle recurring bouts of insomnia. However we still receive the occasional request for reassurance, “Will using topical magnesium help me sleep?” Not wishing to exaggerate and create unreasonable expectations, I can still say, “Yes, magnesium will help you sleep.” That’s not to say that it will completely ‘heal’ whatever may be the underlying cause of your sleep issues – but its necessity for a good night’s sleep is so critical that it will most definitely provide a helping hand.
Many of our customers who originally sought out the magnesium strictly for supplementation purposes have found themselves on the receiving end of a sudden boost in sleep quality. We know this because of their spontaneous and, might I say, enthusiastic feedback detailing their surprise at this “side benefit.” Anecdotal, yes, but certainly no less applicable or genuine.
So, how exactly does magnesium help?
Although we’ve praised magnesium as an unending well of energy whose “zing” is far longer lasting than a cup of Joe, that same well of energy is responsible for helping the body transition into a restful state. Much like a parent will start preparing their child for bedtime with a bath, followed by slipping them into their pajamas, and then reading them a story, magnesium also helps trigger a sequence of events that begin a “wind down” of sorts in preparation for the coming hours of rejuvenating sleep.
As mentioned in previous blog posts, magnesium has its hand in virtually every nook and cranny when it comes to your body’s biological functions. In the case of sleep, it’s the primary ingredient in muscle relaxation, has a neuroprotective effect that is absolutely crucial to each and every stage of sleep, assists in slowing metabolic processes and lowering brain temperature as your body attempts to repair daily damage during sleep cycles, and helps regulate key hormones responsible for not only helping you fall asleep, but keeping you asleep.
Needless to say, magnesium has its hands full.
Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency
Unfortunately, since the overwhelming majority of our population is indeed deficient in magnesium, it’s almost easier to explain what happens without magnesium rather than with it. With insufficient amounts of magnesium available to carry out these functions, many of these processes become chaotic and fall apart leaving you scratching your head and wondering why you can’t fall asleep, or why you’re waking up repeatedly… or even why you feel like you didn’t sleep at all when you know you’ve been out for a full eight hours.
I’m sure we’ve all had the “why on earth am I so tired” moment (I know I have).
Studies have shown that without the neuroprotective actions of magnesium, sleep stages lose their harmonic order, becoming erratic and unpredictable in their occurrence. They’re called “stages” for a reason, and any deviation from their position in the sleep cycle can spell disaster. On top of that chaos, when that nerve-calming protection is absent, you instead have neuronal excitability and increased periods of wakefulness that are most commonly the result.
Another unfortunate consequence of a magnesium deficient state is the impaired biosynthesis and regulation of hormones such as melatonin. As melatonin is a fundamental sleep hormone, we don’t need Google Maps to jump from point A to point B to see how this might throw a wrench into any plans of beauty sleep. Needless to say, sufficient levels of magnesium are required to stimulate melatonin synthesis or else your sleep quality plummets.
There are, of course, other factors to consider such as aging. As we age, the production of certain hormones like melatonin see a steady decline bringing an additional complication to the mix. However, maintaining satisfactory levels of magnesium has been shown to reduce the severity of this decline, and in some cases help it level out or rise. In post-menopausal women, who have a higher incidence of deteriorating sleep quality, research has shown that by supplementing with magnesium not only were many menopausal symptoms reduced or alleviated, but quality of sleep was markedly improved as well.
Indirect Benefits of Magnesium for Sleep
There are numerous health issues that indirectly result in poor sleep that magnesium has been shown to help alleviate. One of such issues, for example, is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).
We’ll coast over the details of magnesium’s function in aiding these disorders, since this article is specifically about magnesium as it pertains to sleep. Let’s suffice it to say that on top of RLS, the list of issues is quite lengthy (See: 101 Uses for Magnesium), including sleep apnea, asthma, periodic limb movement during sleep, hot flashes (which, of course, can be listed under the menopause symptoms), leg cramps, migraine, and even digestive issues.
As I intimated earlier, it really depends on what specifically is causing your lack of satisfactory sleep that will determine how significantly magnesium will impact it. However, it is my educated belief that since magnesium is a core nutrient – a foundational nutrient – that many of these issues are ultimately caused by a deficiency in the first place. Just look at something like dehydration, which can lead to migraine, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, muscle cramping, and even sweating! When your body is deprived of something so very vital (like water), the deficit will literally be felt system-wide.
For additional information about magnesium, melatonin, and sleep, check out our blog post on the Ancient Minerals Goodnight Lotion.