There are a number of effective sleep promoting nutrients that support and enhance sleep and relaxation. Calming minerals – magnesium and calcium are my top 2 sleep promoting nutrients that are highly effective, relatively safe, and readily available for purchase over the counter from chemists, health food shops or online. Quality of theses minerals, when supplemented, is the key to getting good results with alleviating insomnia, sleep difficulties or waking up during the night.
Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and a potent inducer of deeper sleep. Most people with adrenal fatigue are deficient in magnesium as it’s rapidly used by the body under stress. Circadian rhythms dysregulation also increases magnesium excretion, leading to deficiency.
From my clinical experience, almost everyone needs more magnesium nowadays as our demanding and busy jobs, inadequate nutrition, and compromised lifestyle all contribute to feeling stressed or overwhelmed. That’s why magnesium is usually my first suggestion for clients with sleep difficulties. Take this magnesium deficiency quiz to gauge your current magnesium levels.
Unfortunately, the levels of magnesium in the body are hard to measure and there are no highly reliable tests at present. Signs and symptoms are the most revealing factors of overall magnesium status. Sleep-related magnesium deficiency can manifest as:
- Insomnia – it’s one of the main symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium supplementation has shown positive results in insomnia in a number of studies.
- Agitated sleep, with frequent episodes of waking up during the night.
- Waking up early in the morning with an inability to go back to sleep.
- Restlessness, anxiety and depression.
- Tight muscles and an inability to relax the body and mind.
The best forms of magnesium to help with sleep are magnesium glycinate or bisglacinate (glycine increases magnesium absorption and is also calming itself), citrate (also helps with constipation) and orotate. Formulations that contain a mix of all three forms are also quite effective.
Current Australian and U.S. recommended daily allowances (RDA) of magnesium for adults are 400 mg – 420 mg/day for men, and 310 mg – 320 mg/day for women (higher for women who are pregnant or lactating). However, in clinical practice often these intake levels (from diet and supplementation combined) are not sufficient to alleviate sleep difficulties or help with adrenal dysfunction. Therefore, I often double the intake for a period of time to address the deficiency and then lower the dose to maintain the levels.
In addition to supplementation, it’s very important to consume plenty of foods rich in magnesium such as dark leafy greens (very good sources), bananas, nuts (especially almonds), seeds, citrus fruit, ripe tomatoes, cacao and dark chocolate, and whole grains such as rye, barley, quinoa (if tolerated).
- Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should only take magnesium or any dietary supplements under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider. Check the list of contraindicated medications when taking magnesium supplements here.
- Since magnesium is excreted by the kidneys, people with heart or kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements without supervision. Kidney disorders are known to cause magnesium imbalances, as either too much or too little magnesium is excreted.
Calcium is an important sleep promoting nutrient as it’s necessary for reaching deep sleep cycles, and for the brain to produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Calcium works together with magnesium to relax muscles and is sedating to the nerves, therefore it’s often taken at bedtime to induce sleep.
Current Australian and U.S. recommended daily allowances (RDA) for adults are 1,000 mg – 1,300 mg for men and 1,000 mg – 1,300 mg for women (higher for women who are pregnant or lactating). The best and safest sources of calcium come from the foods you eat.
It’s important to note that a balanced ratio of calcium and magnesium in the body is essential to overall health, and that these two minerals should be taken together in a 2:1 ratio (twice as much calcium as magnesium) for best results.
Dairy products (if tolerated), seeds (sesame seeds are high in calcium), bony fish, nuts, legumes and whole grains. For detailed information please check out my free e-book Calcium: best sources of calcium on a dairy-free diet – a detailed guide with recipes.
Foods high in calcium help to boost melatonin levels and thus further support better sleep and rest.
Important: proper calcium absorption from all sources requires the presence of sufficient vitamin D, parathyroid hormone, and small amounts of fat. Therefore any deficiencies or imbalances of these factors will impact calcium levels. Check your vitamin D levels now by completing this self-assessment questionnaire.
Magnesium and calcium are essential minerals for the body to function well and for us to be healthy and well. These are also important sleep promoting nutrients that are often effectively applied to resolve insomnia and other sleep imbalances. The minerals are found abundantly in many foods but they are often needed to be taken as supplements as well to address more severe sleep issues.
In my next post, I’ll discuss more of the sleep promoting nutrients including inositol and L-theanine. Stay tuned or even better – subscribe to my blog, see the form below. Thank you!
Sleep Better Tonight Blueprint
If you’re currently suffering from insomnia and/or sleep difficulties, especially if they are related to adrenal fatigue, chronic tiredness, sleep disruptions or insomnia, this sleep blueprint will provide you with the tools to sleep better.
When I was experiencing my own significant sleep problems while suffering from severe adrenal fatigue, I spent time researching and applying various remedies and healing strategies. Since then I’ve helped many of my clients to sleep well again, utilising the following three keys outlined in this step by step guide:
Your benefits of applying the 3 Keys will include:
- Sounder and uninterrupted sleep, feeling rested and relaxed
- Increased energy and vitality, feeling refreshed and invigorated
- Clearer thinking, feeling calmer and less stressed
- 10+ best foods that really help with sleeping longer and deeper, including foods containing sleep inducing melatonin and serotonin, plus recipes
- Top 4 most effective sleep-promoting nutrients (minerals and other natural compounds) that you can get over the counter, including their food sources and dose guidelines
- Top 6 vital nutrition tips to ensure you sleep better
- Top 5 bedtime snack suggestions
- A step-by-step sleep patterns reset methods and tips
- Adrenal fatigue and sleep issues connection
Let’s get you the sound sleep you need and deserve!
Get the Sleep Blueprint here:
Please leave your thoughts and insights by commenting below – but please remember, I can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure you focus on sharing your health journey, valuable tips and what you’ve experienced and learnt so far. What’s your top 2 sleep promoting nutrients?
Adrenal and Gut Health Expert
Naturopath Herbalist Nutritionist
Check out other posts here:
- Wake up at the same time every night? Read on!
- Sleep better tonight – Nutrition for better sleep and insomnia (part 1)
- Sleep Better Tonight eBook: how to sleep easier, longer and wake up rested and refreshed
- Low vitamin D – what you need to know to achieve and maintain high levels
Sharing is caring! Spread the word to family and friends – share this post!