How often does a treatment for one problem lead to another problem? We suspect it may be more common than anyone could imagine. Who would guess that low magnesium levels resulting from a heartburn medication could lead to trouble sleeping? The connection is not obvious, but one reader reports this experience.
Too Little Magnesium May Lead to Trouble Sleeping:
Q. I had read that PPIs like the Nexium I take could lead to magnesium deficiency. Upon reading the symptoms, I recognized them in myself.
I started taking magnesium supplements and I am feeling and sleeping much better. In addition, I take naproxen occasionally for arthritis flare-ups, and those tend to be constipating. The magnesium helps with that and also prevents nighttime leg cramps. For me, taking the supplement has been a win-win situation.
PPIs Deplete Magnesium:
A. You are right that long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec) can deplete magnesium in the body (Janett et al, Gastroenterology Research and Practice, online May 4, 2015). Symptoms may include muscle weakness and cramps, numbness, fatigue, insomnia and abnormal eye movements called nystagmus.
Magnesium supplements may help some people who have trouble sleeping. A small controlled trial concluded that 500 mg of magnesium improved sleep in older people (Abbasi et al, Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, Dec. 2012).
Magnesium Contra Constipation:
Magnesium citrate, magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) and magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) are all used as laxatives. They can all combat constipation, and many magnesium supplements will do so as well. Consequently, response to the dose of these compounds or a magnesium supplement should be monitored closely. It you begin to have diarrhea, cut back on the quantity of magnesium you are taking.
A Word of Caution:
Be aware, however, that magnesium supplements are not appropriate for anyone with poor kidney function. If you would like to learn more about magnesium and many other nondrug approaches to overcoming insomnia, we offer our online resource Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep.