If you’re having trouble falling asleep or tossing and turning through the night, you’re certainly not alone. It’s estimated that more than half of Australian adults experience trouble falling or staying asleep, at least three or more times a week.1 Waking up regularly throughout the night and not getting the resting hours your body needs can do more than affect how you feel the following day. In the long term, poor sleep can have many implications for your health and wellbeing. Research suggests that it can even accelerate the aging process.2 There are many factors that can cause poor quality sleep and a newly published Australian study suggests that magnesium levels could be one of them.2 The researchers examined the relationship between low magnesium levels and sleep and the effect both can have on age-related changes, with interesting results.
Key study insights2
The study was carried out in 172 healthy older adults (aged 50+) in South Australia. Plasma micronutrients including magnesium were measured and investigators observed that magnesium levels were significantly lower in those who reported getting fewer than 7 hours sleep a night. This suggests that inadequate magnesium levels may have a negative impact on sleep. Lymphocyte telomere length was also measured and found to be significantly shorter in those who were low in magnesium and slept less than 7 hours. Telomere shortening or loss is one of the fundamental indicators of aging and is caused by DNA damage or stress. Sleep deprivation can increase damage of DNA.3 One of the many tasks of magnesium in the body involves DNA replication and DNA repair and might have a protective effect on telomere length and therefore the aging process. On the flipside, magnesium deficiency can affect DNA integrity and the maintenance of telomeres. The study also found an association between magnesium deficiency and elevated homocysteine, which can further affect sleep duration and telomere length.
When it comes to its role in sleep, magnesium is a powerhouse. It’s needed for the synthesis of melatonin, a key hormone involved in the body’s sleep-wake cycle and might specifically help with the initiation of sleep and improve sleep quality. Magnesium also plays a role in nervous system function and a healthy stress response and stress might be what’s keeping you from sleeping well.
So what does this all mean for me?
If you’re having trouble falling asleep or getting a restorative good night’s sleep, it might be worthwhile looking at your magnesium intake. Magnesium is available in a wide range of foods including green leafy vegetables such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, soymilk, rolled oats and avocado.4 Unfortunately, it is estimated that one in three people are not meeting their adequate daily intake through their diet alone,5 so it might be necessary to add supplementation to your routine. Taking an evidence-based, high quality magnesium supplement like Meta Mag® with additional sleep ingredients, might help to calm the mind and relax the body in preparation for sleep and help to support healthy sleeping patterns. With more promising research like this study, making sure you have adequate magnesium levels and improving the quality of your sleep might inadvertently help turn back the clock.
- Reynolds A et al, 2019, Chronic insomnia disorder in Australia, Sleep Health Foundation, viewed 2 March 2023, <https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/Special_Reports/SHF_Insomnia_Report_2019_Final_SHFlogo.pdf>
- Dhillon V, 2023, ‘Low Magnesium in Conjunction with High Homocysteine and Less Sleep Accelerates Telomere Attrition in Healthy Elderly Australian’, Int J Mol Sci, vol 24, no 2, p 982
- Carroll, J, 2016, ‘Insomnia and Telomere Length in Older Adults, Sleep, vol 39 pp 559–564
- Health Direct, 2021, Foods high in magnesium, viewed 2 March 2023, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/foods-high-in-magnesium
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015, Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12, viewed 2 March 2023, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/australian-health-survey-usual-nutrient-intakes/latest-release