If you find yourself tossing and turning as you try and get to sleep at night, then no doubt you would love it if there were a simple solution to your sleeping problems that could help to knock you out and give you a deep and restorative night.
And there’s a good chance that you have tried various different solutions already. Maybe you’ve tried blackout curtains, relaxing music, melatonin… maybe none of them have worked or maybe they just don’t fit with your lifestyle.
But here’s one more to try that a lot of people find to be highly effective and which has very few downsides. We’re talking about magnesium supplementation – a method that some find more useful than melatonin and which I can personally vouch for. Let me tell you, when I supplement with magnesium for sleep I find that I can barely keep my eyes open half an hour later and that I sleep much more deeply as a result. Let’s take a look at why this works and at how you can go about getting the best results with it.
Magnesium is of course a mineral that is commonly found in a range of different foods and that has powerful, synergistic effects with calcium when it comes to strengthening the bones.
But while magnesium helps calcium get in to your bones, it actually helps to remove calcium from your muscles. This allows it to act as a powerful muscle relaxant, so that you’ll find it easier to get comfy and then to drift off into a deep sleep.
At the same time though, magnesium is also responsible for getting us into a sleepy and dopey state just before we drift off. In fact, that’s the reason that warm milk is so commonly associated with going to bed. Milk contains a lot of magnesium and this helps to make us sleepier and more ready to turn in.
In fact, magnesium is so important in this regard, that a magnesium deficit might be the reason that you’re struggling to get to sleep in the first place! Many of us eat diets that are low in magnesium, while drinks like coffees and colas actually reduce the amount of magnesium in our diets.
Magnesium has a ton of other benefits too. For one, it is required by the glands in order to begin the production of testosterone. And because deep sleep is required for maximal testosterone production, this makes it a powerful supplements for athletes wanting to increase their levels of the male hormone. ‘ZMA’ is a supplement that contains magnesium and zinc and which many bodybuilders will take just before bed!
Okay, so how do you take magnesium and what do you need to do to get the best results?
First of all, know that the RDA (minimum daily requirement) is thought to be around 300mg (though most of us get under 200mg). Many people can consume considerably more – up to 1,000mg. Don’t go too much higher than this though, as the side effects associated with overdose include diarrhea and stomach discomfort.
When you take magnesium, you’ll find that it comes in a variety of different form factors. As mentioned, magnesium can often be found along with zinc in the form of ZMA and this is very popular for boosting sleep and ‘brain plasticity’.
Otherwise, some of the more ‘absorbable’ forms of magnesium include magnesium citrate, glycinate, taurate and aspartate. On the flipside, magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate and oxide are less available for the body and you won’t get as much benefit from them. Try to avoid these even though they are cheaper as you might not feel the benefits.
But relatively new research suggests that magnesium l-threonate might be even more potent when it comes to improving sleep and boosting neuroplasticity. It turns out that magnesium l-threonate is not only more effective at getting absorbed than other forms but might be specifically more effective in the brain. What’s more, is that studies show that this specific form of magnesium can form the NMDA receptor signalling pathway in order to improve synapse plasticity and prevent plaquing (which is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s). This form of magnesium also makes it into the hippocampus which is our ‘memory center’. This is important as it can help to improve recall in those with memory deficits and probably in healthy patients too. Through these methods it appears to improve brain function and ‘restorative sleep’ in particular.
Keep in mind though that there is at least one major downside of magnesium threonate and that is that it is the most expensive of the various forms of magnesium. It’s also rather hard to come by, which means you might struggle to find a good source at a reasonable price.
Whichever form of magnesium you go for though, you’re likely to find that this is a good option for anyone wanting to improve their ability to sleep, while also boosting their brain power and their general well-being.
And did you know that over 200 medications actually block our absorption of magnesium? This is just another reason that so much of the world is deficient right now. Alcohol is also known to reduce magnesium.
The alternatives really aren’t great either. While melatonin can be effective at improving sleep, it actually has a ton of unwanted side effects including vasoconstriction of the brain, shrinkage of thymus gland, shrinkage of sex organs, accelerated heart rate, increased stress, addiction and inhibited fertility!
Of course there are a number of other things you can do to enhance sleep and these should all be used in conjunction with magnesium. Getting lots of exercise and fresh air is important for instance, as is trying to keep a calm mind (maybe even using CBT) and keeping your room dark, comfortable and at the perfect temperature. Keep experimenting and tweaking with different strategies and see what works for you!