How Can I Sleep Better?

Magnesium

For better sleep, magnesium is a vital, relaxing mineral that many of us are deficient of, partly because of over-farming. Yes, we should be able to get enough by consuming natural sources of magnesium such as dark leafy greens, grains, fruit, and beans. However, the soil is not as magnesium-rich as it used to be and therefore natural sources aren’t as rich in magnesium, despite farmers’ efforts.

In addition, some types of food processing lower magnesium levels substantially, such as when the magnesium-rich germ and bran are removed during grain refining.

How does magnesium affect sleep?

Magnesium deficiency causes restless legs, insomnia, and fatigue. Taking magnesium supplements can lower cortisol levels (the “stress hormone”) and calm you down, relax your muscles, and send you off to Snooze Land.

Who’s at a higher risk for magnesium deficiency?

Some people are at a higher risk of developing a magnesium deficiency, including those with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 2 diabetics, older adults, alcoholics, people taking certain antibiotics, diuretics, proton pump inhibitors for GERD/gastric reflux (e.g. Nexium, Prevacid), or oral bisphosphonates (e.g. Fosamax) for osteoporosis.

 

Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral and the body and is sometimes misunderstood. As Americans, it has been instilled into our brains that calcium is the “bone mineral.” However, it has so many other very important uses, including regulation of sleep. In addition, although dairy is rich in calcium, there are plenty of non-dairy sources, including dark leafy greens, green beans, and almonds.

How does calcium affect sleep?

Calcium is important in regulating sleep because it helps the brain use tryptophan to produce melatonin, a sleep inducer. This is why grandma was right when she said to have a warm glass of milk before bed time- because dairy products contain both tryptophan and calcium, which will send you nodding off to bed. However, some of us don’t get enough calcium in our diets, so taking a supplement isn’t a bad idea if you’re having a hard time getting a good night of sleep.

Who’s at higher risk for calcium deficiency?

Those at higher risk are older adults, especially post-menopausal women due to increased bone loss (this is where calcium is stored when it’s not needed elsewhere in the body) and decreased estrogen (which causes the body to absorb less calcium). Mainstream society like to say that vegetarians are at a higher risk for calcium deficiency, but that depends on individual diet. Think about all of the non-vegetarians who don’t consume dairy or eat many vegetables- aren’t there plenty of people like that? They probably outnumber vegetarians in the U.S., for we are unfortunately living in a junk food nation.

What to do, what to do!?

Obviously, the best way to get enough of each is through diet. However, if you’re struggling to sleep, starting off here with these two minerals might be your best bet.

It’s important to have a balance between these two vital minerals, and taking them together will give you the best results. There are plenty of over-the-counter options available, and some provide a combination of the calcium and magnesium.

Good night, sleep tight!

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