When you think of minerals for sleep, you might think of calcium. Milk contains trypotophan, a precursor to melatonin, best known as a sleep-inducing hormone. That’s why dairy or calcium is often recommended for sleeplessness.
But more calcium is not nature’s best remedy: hold the 1% and the steamer. Without enough magnesium, calcium can aggravate insomnia.
It’s All About Balance
In the nervous system, magnesium and calcium perform reverse functions. Calcium’s role is to stimulate nerves, exciting adrenaline and contracting muscles. Magnesium slows the nervous impulse, downgrades adrenaline and relaxes muscles. Magnesium is also essential for activating melatonin.
A research project at the United States Department of Agriculture studied subjects at rest and found that “a diet inadequate in magnesium caused changes in brain waves–electrical activity in the brain”(1).
There’s a growing body of evidence that magnesium deficiency is a cause of sleep disturbances, including agitated sleep and frequent waking.
Typically, our diets are heavily skewed in favour of calcium. Collectively, we eat more dairy products than magnesium-rich plant foods, and our packaged foods are often fortified with calcium, too. The average North American consumes five to fifteen times more calcium than magnesium.(2)
No wonder so many people struggle with poor sleep!
What should the idea ratio of calcium to magnesium be? Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND argues it should be 1:1. While bones require two times more calcium than magnesium, the heart, brain and muscles require these minerals in the opposite proportion.(2)
Get More Magnesium for Better Sleep
To boost your daily intake, look to dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Try spinach salad with pumpkin seeds and avocado; toss a bulgur tabouli salad with chick peas.
Even with a perfect diet, it can be tough to get enough magnesium every day…And you do need it every day. Magnesium, unlike calcium, doesn’t build up in the tissues. It’s excreted about every 12 hours. So make getting enough a daily habit.
Natural Calm is a fast-acting, great-tasting solution to magnesium deficiency. Take it half an hour before bed to wind down the nervous system, relax muscles and to activate your body’s natural melatonin.
Look out for our soon-to-be-launched sleep-specific product. Natural Calm “Calmful Sleep” is a naturally relaxing nighttime drink made from a combination of our proprietary magnesium citrate, together with other natural sleep-promoting ingredients. Developed by Natural Vitality, Calmful Sleep hits Canadian shelves this spring.
Get excited! (But not so excited that you can’t sleep.)
1. Lukaski, Henry C. and Penland, James G. Functional Changes Appropriate for Determining Mineral Element Requirements1,2. U.S. Department of Agriculture,4 Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center. Accessed at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hank_Lukaski/publication/14392932_Functional_changes_appropriate_for_determining_mineral_element_requirements/links/09e41510ae00c0d12f000000.pdf
2. Dean, Carolyn M.D., N.D. The Magnesium Miracle. Ballantine Books, New York, NY. 2014.