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Having trouble sleeping? Magnesium might be the answer

Why magnesium can seriously support better sleep hygiene.

6 min read | June 12, 2022
Poor sleep might be because you had too much coffee; but for people with periods, a lot of sleep disturbances have to do with our cycles.

It’s 4am and you’ve woken up from your restful sleep three times to use the bathroom. Window open. Window closed. Covers on. Covers off. The Calm app plays the sweet lullaby that is Harry Styles’ voice in an attempt to drift you back to deep sleep. None of the sleep support is working. Sound familiar?

Sure, this poor sleep might be because you had too much coffee; but for people with periods, a lot of sleep disturbances have to do with our cycles. Because our menstrual and sleep cycles are connected. Cramping, tender skin, bloating and period anxiety (symptoms you might experience when you’re in your luteal phase) can really affect our healthy sleep cycle. But if you’re looking for menstrual products that can help with your period fatigue or sleep disturbances, think about magnesium for sleep. Here’s why magnesium is great for improving your sleep cycle.

Olivia Khoury, magnesium for sleep hygiene

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral that’s involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It’s important for brain, heart, muscle and nerve function, regulating blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as building bones (bones being the most important magnesium source in the body) and even DNA. 

How can it help with my deep sleep cycle?

Your brain and body need to feel relaxed in order for you to drift off into REM sleep. Magnesium absorption supports this relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Elemental magnesium does this by regulating neurotransmitters, sending signals through the nervous system and brain. Elemental Magnesium attaches itself to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, which is a neurotransmitter that helps reduce the activity of neurons in the nervous system. The essential mineral helps quieten the nervous system, preparing your body for a relaxed state. The essential mineral also regulates the melatonin levels, which helps control your REM sleep patterns.

How should I take magnesium?

Although our bodies naturally produce this nutrient, a magnesium supplement can help boost these sleep aid effects in the long term. You can also find magnesium in magnesium-rich food options including spinach, nuts and wholemeal bread – but the likelihood is that you’re not going to be chowing down on a spinach smoothie or nut butter toast before bed.

You can take small doses of magnesium glycinate (200mg) or magnesium citrate (200g) before you go to bed – just watch out for magnesium oxide. Magnesium oxide is a known stool softener (i.e. may cause diarrhea), so it’s *slightly* less helpful for getting a good night's sleep. 

But don’t just rely on a magnesium supplement

You can increase your natural magnesium levels throughout the day by eating magnesium-rich food like dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens), nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans. Sure, supplemental magnesium can help, but if you have challenging sleep hygiene, it probably won’t get any better. Try to avoid caffeine, limit screen time or try gentle movements or stretches for period cramps before bed for a good night's sleep.

Stretch exercises to soothe period pain
About Author

Your hormones can be complex and unpredictable. That’s why we’re here, on The Regular, to do what’s long overdue - to demystify what’s going on with our reproductive systems, our hormones and our whole cycle.

We’re here to support your day-to-day queries serving useful content that is uncomplicated and unbiased. No topic is too complicated or too specific for us to address/focus on.

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