bottle of magnesium pills, magnesium to get to sleep, trouble sleeping

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.

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  1. William

    Why are there no replies to these questions?

  2. Marianne

    I’ve read where magnesium supplements may help with depression? Do you have any information on this? Thank you!

  3. Sara
    Tampa, FL

    I’ve been reading up on magnesium and have looked at the ingredients in my own supplements. I’ve come to the conclusion that most types of magnesium are poorly absorbed through the digestive system. From what I understand people are figuring out that magnesium chloride is the most absorbable form of magnesium, and people are using it topically, not internally. Magnesium flakes in a foot soak or regular bath before bedtime is apparently the best way to get magnesium for maximum absorption. It is called the “relaxation mineral”.

    Many oral magnesium supplements contain magnesium oxide, a cheap form of magnesium that is only 4% absorbable, and from what I have read, the best oral magnesium supplements are only 20% absorbable.

  4. laurie

    I have found taking Rainbow Lite calcium for bones works well. It is a combination of calcium, magnesium and vitamin d and enzymes. It actually helped with constipation.

  5. Joyce

    what is the best form of magnesium to take in order to counteract the side effects of acid reflux medication?

    Thank you for your time.

    St. Louis, MO

    Whenever I read about magnesium other than what’s in foods, it’s always the three types mentioned in your article for the most part. I very seldom read about magnesium chloride. I happened to come across it in liquid form being sold by one of the online vendors I use a few months after I had a hip replacement. I read that it helps with healing scars. But at my age for some reason I may wake during the night and can’t go back to sleep for two to three hours. Not to mention my foot & leg cramps. For me I found magnesium chloride flakes (much like epsom salt rocks) worked better for my cramps and the effects lasted for 4 to 5 days. Then also realized that I would sleep through the night, even after a potty run. I only soak my feet once or twice a week and get these benefits.

  7. Kenneth C.
    Overland, MO

    I have a friend who has been taking various medications for heartburn who was also suffering from numbness in his feet. At some point he starting taking magnesium supplements, and discovered that the numbness went away.

  8. Jean

    It is important to take useful types of magnesium. Magnesium oxide doesn’t absorb well and will cause diarrhea in large doses. Take the forms of gylcinate or citrate and not all at once. Two or three times a day with meals for best absorption. Read The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D.–an excellent book on all the great things this mineral can do for you. Enjoy!

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