Magnesium and Melatonin
Magnesium regulates both neurotransmitters and melatonin. Neurotransmitters relay messages between your brain and your nervous system, and your melatonin levels control your sleep-wake cycles. Researchers have found that melatonin and magnesium levels correlate in the body. Those with depleted levels experience poorer sleep, and vice versa. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that, like melatonin, magnesium is tied to your circadian rhythms.
You’ve probably heard of taking melatonin for sleep before. This explains why magnesium can be another alternative.
Magnesium and the Nervous System
Beyond its connection with melatonin and the sleep-wake cycle, magnesium also helps calm your nervous system by binding to GABA receptors. These neurotransmitters reduce nerve activity, calming your nervous system in preparation for sleep. Increasing your GABA levels promotes relaxation (in fact, this is why sleeping pills like Zolpidem (Ambien) use them).
Because it has a calming effect on the nervous system, recent studies suggest magnesium may also help treat any underlying depression and anxiety that’s contributing to an individual’s insomnia.
Magnesium Deficiency and Sleep Problems
Some people are prone to magnesium deficiency, including those with diabetes, alcohol addiction, GI diseases, ADHD, and older adults. These individuals especially can benefit from supplemental magnesium.
Without sufficient magnesium levels, your body is likely to experience disturbed sleep and insomnia. A study of mice who were kept on a magnesium-deficient diet experienced disturbed sleep with more frequent awakenings.
However, it is possible to have too much magnesium, as well. Whether you have too much or too little magnesium, you can expect sleep problems, according to a 2001 study. For good sleep, it’s important to find the right balance of magnesium.
Beyond helping you fall asleep initially, optimal magnesium levels also improve the quality of your sleep, according to two separate studies of older adults in 2011 and 2012. In both studies, the adults who took magnesium experienced better quality sleep than those who took a placebo.