Insomnia is one of the most common sleep problems people face today. A whopping 40% of adults say that they have trouble getting to sleep at night. It’s no wonder so many of us turn to chemically-derived sleep aides to try to help us fall asleep, but there’s a single mineral which our bodies need anyhow that can make insomnia a thing of the past – miraculous magnesium!
If warm milk and late night movies still don’t do the trick for you, you may need a dose of magnesium to help you drift off into dreamland.
As it turns out, most of us are deficient in this important mineral, responsible for over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body. Some estimates suggest that we around 50 percent short the magnesium we truly need for our bodies to do important tasks like support muscle and nerve functioning, help provide the body energy through glucose production, synthesize DNA, regulate our blood pressure, support every single organ in our body, and yes, help us get to sleep!
The Modern Lifestyle if Robbing us of Magnesium
What’s worse – most of our modern lifestyle choices contribute to depleted magnesium levels. For instance:
- This mineral is widely available in many foods like almonds, spinach, black beans, and peanuts, but when we eat refined sugar magnesium is quickly leeched from our bodies. Not only does magnesium play a vital role in keeping our blood sugar levels balanced, but when we eat a lot of sugar or refined carbs, and induce elevated insulin levels, this increases the secretion of magnesium by the kidneys. This then inhibits its reabsorption (a similar process that leads to calcium secretion) that causes our bodies to guzzle down all its magnesium reserves.
- Stress depletes our magnesium levels too, and in an oddly parallel relationship – magnesium lowers stress! Magnesium supports our adrenal glands – important glands that control the regulation of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. A strain on the adrenal glands causes a strain on our magnesium-dependent energy system. This then causes low energy, listlessness, fatigue, and even depression. It can also cause stress hormones and anxiety to get the best of us, making it more difficult to turn off that to-do list running in our brains when we want to sleep at night. Magnesium is essentially the anti-stress mineral. Without it we’ll be anxious and moody, and our sleep cycles will suffer, too.
- Alcohol consumption depletes our magnesium levels. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that alcoholics may get as much as half of their calories from alcohol. Most alcohol consumption, barring red wine ingestion offers no nutrients. This habit also negatively affects digestion, as well as the body’s use and storage of nutrients. Drinking alcohol decreases the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, thus interfering with the breakdown of nutrients into molecules the body can use. Alcohol also damages the stomach and intestinal lining, which hampers or prevents the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream – including much-needed magnesium.
- Prescription and over the counter medications can inhibit the production and reabsorption of magnesium, leading to magnesium deficiency. These drugs include:
- Acid Blockers such as Cimetidine (Tagamet) and Esomeprazole (Nexium)
- Antacids Aluminum and magnesium hydroxide (Maalox, Mylanta)
- Aluminum carbonate gel (Basaljel)
- Antibiotics like Amoxicillin or Azithromycin (Z-Pak)
- Antiviral Agents
- Blood Pressure Medicines
- Corticosteroids, and more
No wonder we can’t get to sleep at night! The very tools we use to try to sleep better, like a night cap, or raid the fridge for a late-night binge in the kitchen, are often depleting our magnesium levels even further.
How to Reverse a Magnesium Deficiency ASAP
You can just assume that you have a magnesium deficiency, which is highly likely based on the information listed above, or you can find out for sure by ordering the MagRBC blood test (available from Request a Test). This simple test costs $49 and you’ll usually have results emailed to you within 72 hours.
Once you’ve had your magnesium levels clinically tested (or you just assume they are low because you are stressed and consistently suffer from insomnia) there are several things you can do to reverse depleted magnesium reserves:
- Start with your diet. Eat as many magnesium-rich foods as possible. Add dark chocolate (80% cacao or more), sea kelp, oysters, leafy greens, buckwheat millet, nuts, and seeds. These all contain trace amounts of magnesium that can really add up. They also offer whole-food nutrition that your body can benefit from otherwise.
- Soak in Epsom Salt Magnesium Baths. Add ½ cup of baking soda and a cup of Epson salts with magnesium to your bath water every night for a week and soak in the solution. Your skin will absorb the mineral.
- Take a highly bio-available magnesium supplement every single day. Add a B6 supplement as well, because this helps the body absorb magnesium more readily. You can start with a 400 mg dose and slowly increase it up to 750 to 800 mgs. (A boron supplement can also help because it aids in keeping the magnesium inside the cells.)
- Lower stress. Magnesium supplementation will help reduce stress, but reducing stress with meditation, yoga, walks in nature, or taking deep breathes, can also help the body retain its magnesium stores.
- Reduce sugar. The less refined sugar you eat, the less magnesium your body must deplete from cells to digest the sugar you just ate.
- Get moving. Exercise aids digestion and helps move nutrient-rich blood through the body, helping move magnesium where it is needed the most.
Magnesium has been called the master mineral for a good reason. It helps more than 100 trillion cells in your body operate the way they should – AND, it can help you get a good night’s sleep so that the stress-sleeplessness cycle no longer continues.