Millions of people in the world suffer from insomnia. Especially those over 55 years of age, although it can be present in all ages. Stress, bad sleeping habits or nightly consumption of caffeine and alcohol are the causes. Magnesium appears as a possible natural solution to improve sleep.
Insomnia affects not only when you want to fall asleep, but also the next day and in the following days. It is possible to feel a constant tiredness that causes irritability and worsens work performance.
Magnesium is a mineral used for mild cases of insomnia. Although there is no unanimous scientific support regarding the treatment, there are indications of the beneficial effects of this element for the organism.
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How does insomnia appear?
Sleep disorders affect more than half of the population over 55 years of age. This does not exempt people of any age from suffering from insomnia. It is the difficulty in getting or maintaining rest and can occur in different ways.
On the one hand, in the short term (lasting a few days or weeks) it is associated with traumatic events. On the other hand, in the long term, it lasts for more than a month.
It is possible that initiating sleep is a problem, often taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. Frequent awakenings may also occur, i.e., we may not be able to stay asleep. Finally, some people wake up very early, before the recommended 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
Causes and effects on daily life
Insomnia may be due to multiple causes, ranging from a particular traumatic event to constant bad sleeping habits. Excessive nighttime eating also plays a role, as well as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol consumption. In older adults, the problem is related to memory loss and cognitive impairment.
The short- and medium-term effects affect the normal performance of daily activities. It can worsen work or school performance, reduce quick reactions when driving and cause a constant state of irritability and tiredness.
On the other hand, it may increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and anxiety disorders. So a state of chronic insomnia should be treated by a medical professional.
In mild cases, techniques such as bathing before bedtime and avoiding screens for at least an hour before going to bed can help. It is important to get into the habit of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
In addition, the importance of a healthy diet is proven to be important for the reconciliation of sleep. This includes the indicated intake of magnesium, an element present in many foods.
What is magnesium and what is it for?
Magnesium is a mineral that can influence sleep and is essential for human nutrition. It is involved in the functioning of the body through its action on various tissues. It participates in more than 300 chemical reactions, while its optimal levels are associated with the following:
- Protection of immune health.
- Regulation of blood sugar levels.
- Participation in energy production.
- Contribution to the nervous system and muscle development.
- Collaboration in bone development.
Consequences of low magnesium levels
A shortage of magnesium can alter the levels of melatonin, the hormone associated with sleep induction. It is for this reason that it is linked to the problem of insomnia.
Although not a common situation, low magnesium levels are also linked to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some heart diseases.
How does magnesium help with insomnia?
Magnesium is a tempting solution because it is affordable, natural and inexpensive. Doctors do not advise against it; some even recommend it as a supplement and many people report good results. The levels of this mineral are usually already sufficient in the organism, due to the fact that they are present in common foods.
These include green leafy vegetables, especially spinach and broccoli, legumes, nuts, bananas, yogurt and fish. It is also found in beverages such as coffee and water. However, the body does not produce magnesium naturally, so it must be ingested daily.
Some scientific studies indicated that the intake of this mineral in adults with severe insomnia problems improved their conditions at the moment of initiating sleep. But there is no conclusive evidence to prove it clearly.
Reasons for recommending magnesium
Many doctors choose to prescribe regulated doses of magnesium because it usually has no side effects on the body. Some people claim that it helps them with their insomnia problem and some scientific evidence supports this. Intake should not exceed 400 milligrams per day.
However, professionals suggest that it is best to incorporate it through food and a healthy diet. People with diabetes, digestive problems and older adults may have more difficulties with its intake. For this reason, there are supplements in pills, powder and even chewable tablets.
Contribution to the nervous system
Some effects of magnesium on the body have been proven, such as the improvement of the correct transmission of signals in the nervous system. This mineral binds to the neurotransmitters in charge of regulating activity, thus helping to produce calming and relaxing effects.
In that sense, many doctors advise it for people with anxiety problems and restless legs, that is, those who cannot stop moving their lower limbs. This is usually another of the causes that lead to insomnia.
Stress and anxiety
Low magnesium levels are associated with stress and anxiety, which would lead to a worse night’s sleep. To combat this, the intake of 200 to 400 milligrams per day is recommended.
In addition, magnesium helps to improve headaches and lower back pain. However, this should be carried out with a previous medical consultation, since excessive intake may cause diarrhea or nausea.
Magnesium plays an important role in the transit of certain proteins towards conversion into chemicals that generate sleep and relaxation. The mineral is associated with increased levels of dopamine, so it is often recommended to improve mood and combat symptoms of mild depression.
With respect to insomnia, its most important task is the regulation of melatonin, a hormone responsible for conducting sleep-wake cycles. That is why some physicians suggest magnesium as the mildest and most natural treatment for poor sleep.
Possible contraindications of magnesium for sleep problems
Despite being a natural mineral with few side effects, it is important to take into account certain contraindications and interactions. For example, antibiotics and muscle relaxants may alter its action if consumed in parallel with the mineral.
Prior consultation with a professional, who can adjust the doses if necessary, is recommended. Especially for people who are prescribed certain drugs or have any health condition.