Have you seen warnings that too little sleep will ruin your health? Sleep deprivation keeps the brain from functioning optimally (Slama et al, Sleep, Dec. 2017). It can also lead to insulin resistance and high blood pressure. This message can be frustrating, however, for those with chronic insomnia. Just how do you get the sleep you need? Could magnesium help you sleep? One reader expressed the desperation of many:
Seeking a Good Night’s Sleep:
Q. Every time I read that sleep is essential for good health I want to scream. I would love a good night’s sleep because I know it would boost my immune system and help me control my weight as well as improve my outlook and my memory. I worry that my chronic insomnia is making my allergies, high blood pressure and depression worse.
No matter what I try, though, nothing works. That includes sleeping pills, herbs and melatonin. Is there anything that can help me get a few hours of decent sleep?
Medicines That May Contribute to Insomnia:
A. If you take medications for hypertension, allergies or depression, it is possible that these drugs could be contributing to your insomnia. Many medications, including beta blockers like atenolol and metoprolol, can interfere with sleep quality. So can antidepressants such as fluoxetine and sertraline or decongestants like pseudoephedrine. Such drugs could be keeping you awake. Even an eyedrop like timolol might interfere with sleep.
We have a list of medications that cause insomnia in our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. This online resource offers suggestions such as foods that might help you feel drowsy and sleep routines (like a hot bath before bed) that can ease your way to slumber.
Will Magnesium Help You Sleep?
Some people tell us that 250 to 500 mg of magnesium at bedtime helps them. Others find relaxation tapes allow them to ease into sleep. You may also want to listen to our interviews with Dr. Lawrence Kline and Dr. Matthew Edlund about solving the sleep dilemma. The doctors discuss natural ways to get the sleep you need.
Could Magnesium Help You Sleep Too?
Q. My doctor recommended magnesium glycinate for the positive effects of sleeping better without much laxative effect. I believe that it is working for me: better sleep without diarrhea.
A. There is some data to support the use of magnesium supplements for insomnia (Abbasi et al, Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, Dec. 2012). As many as two-thirds of the people in North America and Europe may not be meeting their magnesium need through their diets (Schwalfenberg & Genuis, Scientifica, online Sep. 28, 2017). That might be in part because people are not eating much of the best dietary sources like green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains.
Does Magnesium Have Downsides?
One of the most common complaints associated with this approach is the laxative effect of magnesium. We’re glad the magnesium glycinate your physician recommended is working without causing this complication.
There is one other important caution. People with impaired kidney function should avoid magnesium supplements of all types. Their kidneys will not be capable of maintaining the appropriate balance.
Other Readers Report Their Experience:
A number of other readers have struggled with insomnia.
“What form of magnesium is best for insomnia? There are so many and I find it confusing. Thanks for your help.”
We hope that she will find magnesium glycinate is helpful.
Gin suggested a recipe with several ingredients:
“Try this cocktail:
450mg valerian root
200 mcg selenium
3mg melatonin (though I prefer the 2.5mg sub-lingual-faster acting)
“I’ve been an insomniac since my open-heart, mitral valve repair in 2007. My son told me to try the above, since it worked for him. I am sleeping like a baby once again. Even when I wake @ 3-to-pee, I go right back to sleep…amazing!”
CF, on the other hand, has a very simple remedy:
“All that’s needed is a double tea bag cup of chamomile tea…you’ll be knocked out for the night. Works every time.”
Both PJM and Luci P report that re-aligning the bed to the East-West axis instead of North-South made a difference for them. We have no idea why this worked for them, and we are pretty sure that there are no placebo-controlled trials of this approach. On the other hand, it is not likely to produce any side effects.