Magnesium: The Sleep Mineral

A desperate midnight internet search will bring up an endless list of sleep aids - dark curtains, white noise, and warm milk... avoid caffeine after noon and artificial light before bed… All of these tricks can help, but few are as powerful as magnesium.

This essential mineral is responsible for our health on many levels, but plays a key role in the function of GABA - a neurotransmitter needed by the brain to “switch off”. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, a magnesium deficiency could be the culprit.

Health Canada reports that at least 42.7% of Canadians are magnesium deficient, but the actual numbers are believed to be much higher, while a staggering 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient. Other indications of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps or tightness, eye twitching, anxiety, depression, PMS, heart palpitations, and circulatory problems, to name a few.  

Magnesium deficiency occurs as a result of diet and lifestyle factors, but is harder and harder to come by these days, as modern farming methods deplete nutrients and minerals from the soil and therefore, our food supply. (More on this below).

So how do you get more magnesium? Here are 3 options for increasing your intake:  

1. Magnesium-rich foods

Including magnesium-rich foods in your daily diet is a good start. Dark chocolate, leafy greens (especially spinach), pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews and brown rice all contain considerable levels.

However, magnesium content in our food, (like many other minerals and nutrients) has decreased significantly as a result of modern, mass farming practices. Considering that the magnesium content of common fruits, vegetables and nuts has decreased anywhere from 25-80% since the 1950s, supplementation is often necessary.

2. Magnesium supplements

The best, most assimilable forms of oral magnesium supplements are magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate. Most adults will benefit from 200-450 mg/day. Since magnesium can have laxative properties when taken in large doses, it is recommended to start at 200 mg and increase your dose as tolerated.                       

3. Magnesium oil

Research shows that magnesium is absorbed better through the skin than through digestion. For this reason, applying magnesium oil topically is considered the most effective form of supplementation. You can purchase this “oil” in spray form online or in most health stores. Be sure to follow application instructions carefully when you begin, as some people can experience an unpleasant tingling or irritation at first. This tends to dissipate as magnesium levels in the body increase.


Many people find that the simple act of taking magnesium daily is enough to fix even the most stubborn sleep problems, and fast. We hope it can do the same for you!

*Note: this article should not be used as a substitute for proper medical advice. Be sure to talk to a healthcare professional before starting any new supplementation protocol.

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