Thursday, August 8, 2013

I couldn't sleep but now I can: Magnesium

You know that feeling, when you lay down, totally exhausted and then mind decides it's time to run a marathon 'till 4 in the morning? Or when you're laying in bed, nice and comfy and all of a sudden your body decides it needs to twitch out and you start flopping around the bed like a fish out of water? Or when you manage to go to sleep only to wake up two hours later? All of that, coupled with sleep apnea, have been my repertoire of nighttime fun for longer than I can remember. Never any energy in the day because I get no sleep at night.

I've tried prescription sleep aids, over the counter sleep aids, warm milk. I even resorted to drinking wine before bed. None of them really worked all that well. With the pills I always woke up feeling hung over.

So, I've known about melatonin for sleep for years, but never thought to take magnesium. That's for car rims, not to put in your body. After talking to several different people and having them suggest magnesium, I decided to try it. Specifically calcium/magnesium/zinc. I take it in the morning with my other vitamins and medications. I also take 3mg of melatonin about 2 hours before bed. And I sleep. I sleep well. I fall asleep and stay that way all night. So me being me, I got curious. And this is what I found.

Noticeable symptoms of a magnesium deficiency 

Restless legs syndrome
Inappropriate fatigue 
Muscle twitching 
Muscle pain and soreness
Shooting pains
Sound sensitivity
Light sensitivity
Delayed recovery from from exercise 

Magnesium deficiency may also be a complicating factor in:
Congestive heart failure
Increased risk of death from heart attack

  • The most prevalent sleep disorders:  abrupt awakening from sleep; jerking and other movements enough to awaken you; talking in your sleep; restless leg syndrome (RLS) may all be related to magnesium deficiency
  • Magnesium supplementation has been a proven natural sleep aid both by helping you stay asleep and to fall asleep faster

Magnesium apparently plays a key role in the regulation of sleep. Research has shown that even marginal magnesium deficiency can prevent the brain from settling down at night. One of the most absorbable forms of magnesium is magnesium citrate powder, available in health food stores. Try taking two doses, following label directions, a day, with the second dose right before bed. You can also get magnesium from food. Good sources include green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.

Response to Stress

Magnesium aids in calming the nerves and relaxing the muscles, which in turn can help individuals to fall asleep. Similarly, a deficiency of the mineral is sometimes responsible for the nervousness that prevents sleep. Magnesium deficiency hampers the ability of the body's motor nerves, which carry electrical impulses from the brain to the muscles to send the correct messages. Magnesium deficiency is common in the United States, usually due to insufficient dietary intake. Physical and emotional factors can complicate matters more by increasing depletion of the mineral through urinary excretion. Low magnesium levels can also cause the release of certain stress hormones in the body, particularly high levels of norepinephrine, which increase under stress. When a person feels stressed, hormones signal cells to release magnesium into the blood. From there, the mineral is excreted in urine. The more stressed a person becomes the more magnesium is lost from the body. Sleep deprivation itself is a chronic stressor that can lower magnesium levels.

Calms Nerve Activity

Lack of magnesium can cause leg cramps or restless leg syndrome, disrupting restful sleep. Loss of sleep or poor quality sleep over time has been associated with high blood pressure. Results of a study published in the June 2009 issue of the journal of "Archives of Internal Medicine" reports that there may be a link between sleep deprivation and hypertension. Magnesium suppresses the release of catecholamines, which stimulate activity in the sympathetic nerves. Increasing dietary intake of magnesium may also help to regulate blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health, research suggests that eating more fruit and vegetables and low fat dairy foods rich in magnesium may help to lower blood pressure. When the body is relaxed you sleep better. Food sources naturally rich in magnesium include wheat bran, blackstrap molasses, lima beans, kidney beans, broccoli, spinach and nuts, including almonds, cashews and hazel nuts. If you take magnesium supplements to help you sleep, take tablets about 45 minutes before going to bed. Check with your doctor as to how many milligrams you should take on a daily basis.

Read more:

Insomnia: Studies Confirm Calcium And Magnesium Effective

Main Category: Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia
Article Date: 08 Sep 2009 - 0:00 PDT

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), almost six out of ten Americans report having insomnia and sleep problems at least a few nights a week. Insomnia is defined as "An inability to fall asleep or remain asleep long enough to feel rested, especially when the problem continues over time." In an effort to combat this, as many as 25 percent of the people in the United States use medications to help them sleep.

Most sleeping pills, especially when taken over long periods of time, can have multiple side effects. The drugs stay in the bloodstream, give a hangover effect the next day and beyond, and can increase the risk of car and work accidents. They also impair memory and performance on the job and at home.

From a nutritional perspective, several research studies have shown certain minerals to be effective natural sleep aids that help people fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. James F. Balch, M.D., author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, writes: "A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep."

Calcium is directly related to our cycles of sleep. In one study, published in the European Neurology Journal, researchers found that calcium levels in the body are higher during some of the deepest levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. The study concluded that disturbances in sleep, especially the absence of REM deep sleep or disturbed REM sleep, are related to a calcium deficiency. Restoration to the normal course of sleep was achieved following the normalization of the blood calcium level.

William Sears, M.D. writes: "Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods."

In magnesium deficiency, chronic insomnia is one of the main, central symptoms. Sleep is usually agitated with frequent nighttime awakenings. On the other hand, a high magnesium, low aluminum diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. This was proven in a study done by James Penland at the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota. The study was titled "Effects of trace element nutrition on sleep patterns in adult women." It's important to note that a balanced ratio of calcium and magnesium is important to overall health, and these two minerals should be taken together for best results.

If you don't want to supplement and simply want to acquire magnesium through food sources, here are a few foods that can relieve you of any magnesium deficiency symptoms:
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Black beans
  • Cashews
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Okra

Read more:
 Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulates the sleep/wake cycle, an internal pacemaker that regulates the timing and our drive for sleep in humans. It causes drowsiness, lowers body temperature, slows metabolic functions, and puts the body into sleep mode.

 Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in all animals, including humans. Is released in your body during the night when it is dark and dissipates as your body prepares to awaken. It is regularly used as a sleep aid by people who are suffering from jet lag and sleep safely and reliably. A dosage of 1 to 5 milligrams is considered safe and effective to help with sleep. The most common side effects are vivid dreams and a mild headache the next morning.

Research on melatonin in people with insomnia is mixed. One study showed that taking melatonin restored and improved sleep in people with insomnia. Other studies show that melatonin does not help people with insomnia stay asleep. Melatonin is not regulated by the FDA and can have problems with purity. It is only advised for people with circadian rhythm issues, and it should never be given to children or taken by someone on other medications. You should only use melatonin under close supervision by a doctor.

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