Feeling tired today? You’re not alone. Only 32% of us get seven hours sleep a night, 49% of us don’t feel like we get enough sleep, and that’s only a few of the worrying findings from a government sleep study.
But why don’t we get enough sleep? Is it the post-pandemic worry? Is it that there’s just too much good TV to catch up on? Or are we all just drinking too much coffee?
Well, none of those things are helping very much at all, but it turns out there could be another reason. Some scientists reckon that it’s all down to a certain mineral in our diet. One that we’re not getting enough of.
Why do our bodies need magnesium?
Magnesium’s an essential mineral that’s vital to the way our bodies work and function. It’s an electrolyte, and it helps us create proteins, bones and DNA, maintain blood sugar and blood pressure, and regulate things like muscles, nerves and our hearts.
So it’s pretty important. Our bodies seem to need magnesium for a lot of things, none of which seem optional.
But along with making sure our hearts are pumping our blood correctly and making sure we have bones and muscles, magnesium plays a significant role in our daily rhythms - especially when it comes to sleep.
How does magnesium help us sleep?
As we age, the amount of sleep we need - or think we need - changes. Compare a newborn sleeping most of the day, to a five year old bouncing around the house at 6am, to a teenager trying to sleep in until noon, to a 20-something getting by on six hours a night. We all need different amounts of sleep.
So it’s not like our brains are hard-wired to sleep 8 hours a night, come what may. We have to be flexible. Change our routines as we become adults and as we age. And maintaining those flexible regimes needs a lot of - you guessed it - magnesium.
Studies suggest that healthy magnesium levels help us develop healthy sleep cycles as children, while lower magnesium levels can make us more at risk insomnia as adults.
One study, quoted by The Sleep Foundation, found that boosting magnesium levels by 500mg per day for eight weeks helped adults fall asleep quickly, and stay asleep until morning.
Where can we get extra magnesium?
So if 500mg of magnesium is the key to a good night’s sleep, where can we get it?
Let’s look at the options:
- Dark chocolate - there’s 65mg of magnesium in a 28g serving of dark chocolate, so wolfing down 215g of it will get you to the 500mg mark. That’s five regular sized bars, for reference.
- Avocados - 58mg of magnesium per medium avocado means you’ll only need to eat eight and a bit of them. That’s a lot of guacamole to chew through!
- Cashews - now we’re talking. 28g of cashews deliver 83mg of magnesium. Six servings of nuts a day will get you there. That’s still a fairly big ask though, given that you’ll need around 800 calories worth of nuts a day.
- Black beans - You only need to eat three tins of black beans to get all your magnesium for the day in, so that’s something. We just can’t be sure what that’ll do to your digestion.
If you’re tired and want to sleep more easily, magnesium could be the answer. But that doesn’t mean you have to gulp down a bean, cashew and dark chocolate smoothie every day.
Our daily magnesium and B6 supplement contains 375mg of magnesium and a portion of energy-boosting vitamin B6 each day, meaning you’re only a few nuts, a portion of legumes and a square of dark chocolate away from hitting the magic mark.
You’ll be well rested, and find it easier to maintain a balanced diet. Much easier than you would trying to take down three tins of beans every lunchtime!