Trouble Falling Asleep? Magnesium Can Help - Step To Health

Trouble Falling Asleep? Magnesium Can Help

Insomnia is a problem that affects many people and interferes with daily life. Among the measures that can be taken for mild cases, is the intake of magnesium.
Trouble Falling Asleep? Magnesium Can Help

Last update: 25 November, 2021

Millions of people around the world have trouble falling asleep, suffering from insomnia. This is especially the case in people over 55 years old, although it can occur in all ages. Stress, bad sleeping habits, or the consumption of caffeine and alcohol at night are often the causes. However, magnesium is a possible natural solution to improve your sleep.

Insomnia doesn’t only affect you when you want to fall asleep, but this also has implications for the following days. Constant tiredness causes irritability and can also worsen work performance.

Magnesium is a mineral that can be used for mild cases of insomnia. Although there’s no unanimous scientific support regarding the treatment, the beneficial effects of this element for the body are proven.

How does insomnia appear?

Sleep disorders affect more than half of the population over 55 years. However, this doesn’t mean that other age groups are exempt from suffering from it. The difficulty to get or maintain rest can occur in many different ways or for many reasons.

On the one hand, it can be associated with traumatic events in the short term (lasting a few days or weeks). However, when it’s due to other causes, it can last more than a month.

Trouble falling asleep can be a real problem, often taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. Other people may wake up frequently and may not be able to stay asleep. Finally, other people wake up a lot earlier than the recommended 7 or 8 hours of sleep.

Causes and effects on daily life

Insomnia can be due to multiple causes, ranging from a specific traumatic event to constant bad sleeping habits. Excessive nighttime eating also plays a role, as well as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol consumption. In older adults, the problem is related to memory loss and cognitive impairment.

The short and medium-term effects have consequences on our normal daily activities. It can worsen work or school performance, reduce quick reactions when driving and cause a constant state of irritability and tiredness.

On the other hand, it may increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and anxiety disorders. So, it’s clear that a state of chronic insomnia should be treated by a medical professional.

In mild cases, some techniques can help, such as bathing before bedtime and avoiding screens at least an hour before bedtime. It is important to get into the habit of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.

In addition, a healthy diet has been shown to be important for sleep. This includes the indicated intake of magnesium, an element present in many foods.

A woman with trouble falling asleep.
The causes behind insomnia are varied

That’s why an approach from different angles is advised.

What’s magnesium and how does it help us?

Magnesium is a mineral that can influence sleep and is essential for human nutrition. It’s involved in the functioning of the body through its action on various tissues. It’s involved in more than 300 chemical reactions, while its optimal levels are associated with the following:

  • Protection of immune health
  • Regulation of the amount of sugar in the blood
  • Participation in energy production
  • Contributions to the nervous system and muscle development
  • In the development of the bones

Consequences of low magnesium

A shortage of magnesium can alter the levels of melatonin, the hormone associated with sleep induction. This is why it’s linked to the problem of insomnia.

Although not a common occurrence, low magnesium levels are also linked to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and some heart diseases.

How does magnesium help with insomnia?

Magnesium is a tempting solution because it’s affordable, natural, and inexpensive. Doctors don’t advise against it; some even recommend it as a supplement, and many people report good results. The levels of this mineral are usually already sufficient in the body, because they’re present in common foods.

These include green leafy vegetables, especially spinach and broccoli, legumes, nuts, bananas, yogurt, and fish. It’s also found in beverages such as coffee and water. However, the body doesn’t produce magnesium naturally, so it must be ingested daily.

Some scientific studies showed that the intake of this mineral in adults with severe insomnia problems improved their conditions at the time of initiating sleep. However, there’s no conclusive evidence to clearly prove this.

Many doctors choose to prescribe regulated doses of magnesium because it does not usually have side effects on the body. Some people claim that it helps with their insomnia and some scientific evidence supports this. Intake should not exceed 400 milligrams per day.

However, professionals suggest that it’s best to incorporate it through food and a healthy diet. People with diabetes, digestive problems, and older adults may have more difficulty with their intake. For this reason, there are supplements in pill and powder form, and even chewable tablets.

Contribution to the nervous system

Some effects of magnesium in the body are proven, such as improving the proper transmission of signals in the nervous system. This mineral binds to neurotransmitters responsible for regulating the activity, so it helps to produce effects of calm and relaxation.

In that sense, many doctors advise it for people with anxiety problems and restless legs, i.e. those who can’t stop moving the lower extremities. This is usually another of the causes that lead to insomnia.

Stress and anxiety

Low levels of magnesium are associated with stress and anxiety, which would lead to a worse night’s sleep. To combat this, the intake of 200 to 400 milligrams per day is recommended.

In addition, magnesium helps to improve headaches and lower back pain. However, this should be carried out with prior medical consultation, since excessive intake can cause diarrhea or nausea.

A woman with trouble falling asleep.
Stress and anxiety make it difficult to fall asleep, as worries intensify at night.


Magnesium plays an important role in the transit of certain proteins that will convert into chemicals that generate sleep and relaxation. The mineral is associated with increased levels of dopamine, so it’s often recommended to improve mood and combat symptoms of mild depression.

With respect to insomnia, its most important task is the regulation of melatonin, a hormone responsible for conducting sleep-wake cycles. That’s why some doctors suggest magnesium as the mildest and most natural treatment for poor sleep.

Read more: about magnesium here: Magnesium, a Complete Mineral

Possible contraindications of magnesium for sleep problems

Despite being a natural mineral with few side effects, it’s important to take into account certain contraindications and interactions. For example, antibiotics and muscle relaxants may alter their action if consumed in parallel with the mineral.

Prior consultation with a professional is recommended, and they can adjust the doses if necessary. This is especially the case in people who already have prescribed drugs or who suffer from specific health conditions.

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