Can Eating More Magnesium Improve Sleep & Memory?

by Dr. Carolyn Dean
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In a January,  2010 study, in “Neuron”, neuroscientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tsinghua University in Beijing found that increasing magnesium improves learning abilities, working memory, and short- and-long-term memory. The magnesium also helped improve performance on a battery of learning tests.
Both the brain and the heart are made-up of excitable tissues that give off electrical energy and both must have magnesium to properly function.
The brain is in a state of constant electrical activity. Brain cells are controlled by switches: some switches are turned on and some are turned off by neurotransmitters. The action of these neurotransmitters could not take place without calcium, magnesium and zinc, which play various roles in the response of the nerve cells to electrical stimulation.
As we get older we become more deficient in magnesium and therefore require more in our diet and in supplement form.
Not all forms of magnesium are easily absorbed by the body. One of the most absorb-able forms of nutritional magnesium is magnesium citrate powder which can be taken with hot or cold water and sipped throughout the day.
Lack of sleep does not allow the brain to repair and re-charge and lower stress levels. It increases daytime tiredness and reduces endurance and focus. Studies have shown sleep to improve learning, memory and creativity. Low grade chronic inflammation is connected to a whole slough of illnesses including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Research has shown that people who get about six or less hours of sleep a night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more so lack of sleep increases chronic inflammation and reduces health. Lack of sleep can increase your appetite and impede weight loss or dieting – when you are tired your hormones affecting appetite kick in and you feel more hungry. Lack of sleep can also increase cholesterol levels and negatively affect heart health.
Magnesium is known as the anti-stress, anti-anxiety mineral and is a natural sleep aid. Numerous studies* have shown its effectiveness in lowering anxiety and reducing stress levels as well as helping with deeper more restful sleep. This mineral has been depleted from our soils and foods due to modern farming methods and food processing. Over 75{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} of Americans do not get their recommended daily allowance of this mineral which is a co-factor in 700-800 enzyme reactions in the body.
A magnesium deficiency can magnify stress and anxiety making it harder to go to sleep and stay asleep. Serotonin, the feel good brain chemical that is boosted artificially by some medications, depends on magnesium for its production and function. Not all forms of magnesium are easily absorbed by the body. Magnesium citrate powder is a highly absorbable form that can be mixed with hot or cold water and sipped at work or at home throughout the day.

Here are a few Magnesium-Rich foods to add in to your diet today:

  • Raw Spinach

  • Pumpkin Seeds

  • Soy Beans

  • Figs


Other Notes for Sleeping Well:

Electrical appliances and electro-magnetic radiation in the bedroom is another factor to be aware of that makes falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult.  Keep these to a minimum, do not sleep next to your cell phone, computers, tv, etc.
Room temperature – 68 degrees is ideal, any warmer and it can disrupt sleep and make it harder to fall asleep..
Improving air quality in the bedroom by using an air filtration system or a humidifier.
Darkness of bedroom. The darker the better.
Eating before bedtime affects sleep quality, avoid sugar, alcohol and simple carbs, all of these affect sleep quality.
Exercise in the evening or before bedtime can also disrupt sleep, so try to exercise in the morning.


Dr. Carolyn Dean
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