Could Magnesium Be The Secret to Solving Sleep problems?

Looking up ‘sleep problems’ on Google yields millions of results, many of which tell you that the reason you can’t seem to drop off at the end of the day might be scarier than you’d imagined. But one surprisingly common cause of sleepless nights is rarely mentioned - magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is probably one of the most underused supplements, and not just for athletes. Some research indicates that as many as 80% of people living in the US might be deficient in magnesium in some way and it’s reasonable to assume the figures could be similarly high in the UK.

Magnesium is one of the most important elements in human biology - it’s required for the catalytic action of over 300 enzymes in our bodies, helps turn the food we eat into energy, and it makes sure the parathyroid glands which pump out hormones function normally. But of the many benefits magnesium provides its role in getting you a good night’s sleep is often overlooked, yet sleep problems tend to compound other health problems and interfere with your ability to function normally.

Inhibitory neurotransmitters are little pieces of chemical information that don’t stimulate the brain and GABA is the primary one. It’s effects are similar to something like valium and activating the GABA receptors reduces anxiety and stress and helps the brain switch off to go to sleep. Magnesium is important for the proper function of these receptors, so people who aren’t consuming enough through their diet might find they really struggle to shut off their thoughts when they’re trying to fall asleep.

People who are under a lot of stress can often deplete their body’s magnesium reserves faster as stress hormones like cortisol cause the body to release magnesium into the blood where it is eventually excreted in urine. This can cause an unfortunate feedback loop where low magnesium levels cause more stress hormones to be released which in turn causes the body to release more magnesium.

Whether you’re in the run up to a big event, working out to improve yourself, or just trying to keep up at work, the amount of stress we place on ourselves seems as if it gets greater all the time. If you feel like your sleep has been affected, magnesium might just be the cure you weren’t expecting.