Sleep loss can be a tricky condition to unpick because numerous factors can disrupt your sleep-cycle, such as erratic work patterns and complex psychological problems. As a result, it can often feel like you are at the foot of a very high mountain, but luckily, you do not have to address the root cause to correct sleep loss. In fact, making even small adjustments to your lifestyle can send you off to sleep.
Taking magnesium supplements is one simple solution that is gaining increasing traction.
As Harley Street Nutritionist, Kim Pearson, explains: “Magnesium is particularly important for sleep and studies suggest that suboptimal levels can interfere with sleep quality and promote insomnia.”
According to Pearson, there are three reasons why supplementing magnesium could be the key to achieving good quality sleep naturally.
It helps you relax
Pearson explains: “An overactive brain is a common culprit when it comes to keeping us up all night.
“Supplementing magnesium could aid the relaxation process by regulating the parasympathetic nervous system, or in other words, your calm centre.”
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According to Pearson, magnesium also acts as a calcium blocker, which provides sleep-inducing benefits because a build-up of calcium in the muscles can lead to contractions or twitches which can impact your sleep.
“In fact, magnesium deficiency can cause muscle pain and even spasms,” she adds.
It helps regulate sleep quality
Magnesium may impact neurotransmitters, sending signals throughout the nervous system to help quieten down nerve activity and this can help you to achieve a restful night with a deeper sleep, says Pearson.
Supporting the claim, in one study of older adults with insomnia, those who supplemented with magnesium had a better quality of sleep than those who did not.
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The researchers attributed this to the mineral’s effect on calming the nervous system and allowing for a more restful night’s sleep.
It can support mental health
Suffering from anxiety or depression can undermine your ability to unwind and get to sleep.
“Magnesium deficiency has been associated with the increased likelihood of anxiety and depression, with some studies suggesting that the mineral may help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and enhance conventional treatments,” explains Pearson.
In fact, as Pearson explains, one study investigating the use of magnesium in treatment-resistant depression concluded that since inadequate brain magnesium appears to reduce serotonin levels, and since anti-depressants have been shown to have the action of raising brain magnesium, it can be logically deduced that magnesium treatment will be beneficial for nearly all depressives.
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How to take magnesium
According to Pearson, taking a warm bath with magnesium flakes or massaging your skin with a magnesium body oil or lotion before bed are great ways to top-up your levels of this sleep-boosting supplement.
Magnesium is also found in a number of foods, including:
- Green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach and kale)
- Fruit (figs, avocado, banana and raspberries)
- Nuts and seeds.
- Legumes (black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans)
- Vegetables (peas, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, artichokes, asparagus, brussels sprouts)
Others ways to encourage sleep
In addition to making dietary tweaks, creating a sleep-friendly environment is also important.
Experts claim there’s a strong association in people’s minds between sleep and the bedroom.
As the NHS points out, certain things weaken that association, however, such as TVs and other electronic gadgets, light, noise, and a bad mattress or bed.
How can you optimise your bedroom for sleep?
“Keep your bedroom just for sleep and sex (or masturbation). Unlike most vigorous physical activity, sex makes us sleepy. This has evolved in humans over thousands of years,” advises the NHS.
Your bedroom also ideally needs to be dark, quiet, tidy and be kept at a temperature of between 18C and 24C, notes the health site.
It adds: “Fit some thick curtains if you do not have any. If you’re disturbed by noise, consider investing in double glazing or, for a cheaper option, use earplugs.”