Ingredient spotlight: Magnesium

Need a little help falling asleep at night? You’re not alone.

AAccording to Consumer Reports, an estimated 164 million Americans struggle with sleep at least once a week. Blame it on a hectic schedule, a racing mind, or poor sleep hygiene, a lack of quality sleep can leave you exhausted, stressed and unable to function at optimal capacity.

Waking up throughout the night, with the inability to easily fall back asleep, isn’t uncommon. A study published in Sleep Medicine reported that about a third of American adults wake up in the middle of the night at least three times per week and over 40 percent have a hard time falling back asleep.

If you spend most of your night staring at the ceiling or watching the hours slowly tick by on the clock instead of in a blissful state of slumber, you might need to check your magnesium levels. Low levels of magnesium are responsible for sleepless nights, more so than most of us realize. That’s because, according to Robin Reeves, Director, Wellness & Lifestyle at Echelon Spa in Boston, insomnia is one of the most common side effects of low magnesium levels. “We know the neurotransmitter GABA calms anxiety and stress in the brain when there is adequate magnesium. Some people may have a difficult time “turning off their brain” for sleep without proper magnesium intake.”

The multiple slumber benefits of magnesium are nothing new. The Journal of Research in Medical Sciences conducted a double-blind study to determine the effects of supplemental magnesium in elderly suffering from insomnia. Ultimately, the study concluded magnesium improves sleep efficiency, onset and time as well as improving renin, melatonin and cortisol levels.

“With the knowledge of magnesium improving the natural body levels of the sleep hormone melatonin, we can see how this mineral can improve our nightly Z’s. An essential role of magnesium is regulating nerve impulses and muscle contractions for an active or at rest body,” says Reeves. “With lower magnesium levels fatigue is a normal side effect however the production of cortisol increases limiting the body’s natural ability of efficient, restorative sleep.” But it’s not just melatonin levels that magnesium impacts. It also affects the body’s natural levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is responsible for increasing relaxation, decreasing stress and allowing for healthy, restful sleep to occur.

Magnesium-rich foods, like nuts and seeds and dark, leafy greens, as well as supplements like MindYourMind that are chock-full of the mineral are known to help ease sleep. “Food is always the best medicine and naturally helps to keep magnesium levels in check,” says Reeves.

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